Tag Archives: faithfulness

God’s got it covered

17 Apr

Rejection, betrayal are the two greatest fears women have. And you have had to deal with both. So many women can identify with you, including me (Let’s have coffee one day and I’ll spill the beans) But this didn’t sneak up on God; He has a plan for your future – I am living proof.

That’s a comment I read on a blog post over at (in)Courage. And it fell into place for me today.

At the moment, what’s on is probably what most other people might not recognise as major in my life. But everyone near me and/or who hear my daily outpourings are generally bringing me flowers and chocolate and little notes. My colleagues too – and one of them has had to go be with her family in London. The rest of us don’t have that luxury. But we get chocolates and visits and all that.

Oxford exams are really that big. Exams generally are a pretty big deal, being Asian and all…

Digression: In some parts of Asia, the suicide rates spike up in April and I have research to prove it. Still, taking as I do, my identity in Christ rather than cultural boundaries, I’m very grateful for my relationship with him and with the family I do have!

In addition though, I’ve had a student affairs spike. I’ve also had to negotiate a petty crime, and its fallout in the community. Plus a couple of personal hiccups as you’ve probably figured from that last post of mine 😉 For the record though, I haven’t had personal betrayal – no, not that.

And yesterday, God gave me a much-needed ‘moment’. I called a friend and prayed with her. And she kinda demurred at the prayer… This is a friend with whom I went to church, and we’ve been to a fairly charismatic (you know, pentecostal but not Pentecostal and a fairly traditional Anglican/Presbyterian church together. We’ve been in small group together. We’ve known each other for nearly seven years now. We’ve travelled together, visited each other’s homes. Um, you would assume that we’d be free to pray with each other. But I knew that she wouldn’t actually be so free to pray out loud, even with her family. She told me yesterday that I was important to her and the least she could do is take a day off and buy me lunch – in another city! I’d depend on her to listen in my horrible moments too. But all of this friendship-boasting to show that – no, it wasn’t the easiest thing to pray together.

But hey, I was feeling pretty selfish. So I got online, grabbed a hold of her and said she had to pray with me. That she had to try, and that doing it out loud was a token to ME not even to God, and that He knew her silent prayer but I didn’t. I was at a point of need. So could we please do that? You know – you get the point. I repeat myself generally, but I think this time you got it.

I wanted her to be there and.to.pray.with.me. It wasn’t a major thing. But it was something I didn’t want to do without – the beauty of communion and shared love for Jesus, the vocalising of trust in His provision.

Still I didn’t think it was such a big deal. I thought she’d stumble and pray but she’d pray and I’d have my… silly little token.

Actually, she didn’t stumble. I prayed. She prayed.

Then she said this:

I think you’ll appreciate a random of sequence of events without which this might not have happened.

And the story was this. Over the weekend, her boyfriend had told her she needed to practice to pray out loud. I mean – we all know she doesn’t. We all know she loves God. So then she was amused and didn’t understand and she probably rolled her eyes at the boy. But he made her practice AND pray about it and then said ‘You never know when you might need it.’

And there I was the next day – I wouldn’t have really grabbed a hold of anyone else, and said friend might well have said no, if she hadn’t been made to think about it and consider it necessary. And God showed her how he’d got me covered. And he showed me how he’d got her covered.

And that brings me back to that comment. While facing rejection, fearing it, or uncertainty or betrayal or hurt or simply even just the unknown – I’ve got to know this…

It didn’t sneak up on God.

And now, I’m sitting here thinking how un-random life is in some ways. How very God-like life plays itself out. And how, in a time I needed Him, He put a hand on my shoulder and said ‘I’m watching. I’ve got you covered.’

Shoqed.

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All other ground…

14 Apr

Muddy Waters are Distracting

In everything that flows,

melts, melds into liquid

cocktail mockers, I am

that stone

the river flows over

around,

touching, flirting

with what is left

above ground.

I forget

the ground

immovable holds me still.

Communication in the Bible

22 Mar

I’m trying to find what the Bible says on communication.

I know the emphasis on being slow to anger, and gentle in response to a tell-off. All of that. But I’m looking specifically for how to be open, how to talk to each other, social norms.

I know I’m kinda shooting myself in the foot here. The Bible doesn’t do ‘social norms’. It merely says Be imitators of God.

But if you have an idea of what the Bible might say for how to un-hurt a friend (small or big!), how to be genuine in your care for the other in the way that you talk to them…

We have common sense. Here’s some of mine:

Listen to people. Really listen to them.

Honour their commitment.

Be grateful that they want to spend time with you.

Consider their emotions, anticipate their feelings.

Look for detail – in their reactions and in yours!

And there’s a lot online about how to be friends, how to be a couple, how to be leaders… Especially a lot on dating and marriage from the Christian net circles 😉 Like:

Loving one’s spouse according to the Scriptures involves four elements: 1. A genuine care and concern resulting in self-sacrificial attitudes and actions to meet the needs of your spouse 2. A commitment to fulfill your God-ordained marriage responsibility to your wife or husband 3. A romantic and sexual desire and attraction 4. A commitment to separate oneself from others of the opposite sex for exclusive and permanent romantic and physical intimacy. 

– Ron Jones at the Titus Institute.

But remind me of your favourite verses in the Bible that deal with those things? Or stories in the Bible that allow us to “be imitators”? All those relationships, please! Thanks!

Still crazy

20 Mar

Sometimes I leave home and there is this funny feeling that I’ve forgotten something.

And it’s really hard to put my finger on what. So I walk through the hallway a couple of times, trying different doors, looking busy. When I’m struggling to remember, I can’t really do much else.

I forgot something today.


I forgot about being in love. Like – if someone asked you – you couldn’t really find a moment in your day when you haven’t been thinking about him. Checking your phone, checking your latest letter. I forget how perfectly he understands and I know it when we’re together. How my heart slumps down in relief like a body after a marathon because I know he’s got me covered.

You know when people are in love. Right? And I flatter myself I can tell when it’s real.

And I wonder if they hear it – this sigh of relief when I’m home not because I have a comfy, worn down, old armchair, or because I have my mug and coffee, or even murukku in it. But because I can hear his voice over my shoulder, by my side, and it doesn’t startle me. It’s old, familiar, loved.

It’s gentle.

A while ago, I wrote this and it turned out to be my most popular post. I called it crazy that I forget about this man who would and did give his life for me, this God who gave me life. I forget.

What makes me cry?

Looking at love.

What’re you looking at?

17 Mar

I listened to Steve Farrar on this through a student’s Facebook post. And I was completely convicted by his three reasons for how often people fall into sexual immorality (yes, the Biblical meaning of this word).

Before I go on, I have to say – I do not know Steve Farrar, and in fact, this is the first time I’ve heard of him. I am not surprised as his mission is to “raise up men to Biblical masculinity” (thanks, Google). Or in his own words his mission is ‘Don’t screw up’. And I also feel obliged to point that I still cringe at the words ‘Biblical masculinity’ as if God designed a set of codes for how manly or how womanly one can be. He made us man and woman. And that suffices for me. No trying to be…

In fact, Farrar was mainly talking to them. And it convicted me. For both the kind of temptation he was talking about, as well as the general moral shortcuts he referred to.

In a nutshell, he pointed out that the people in his experience who have ended up in this quagmire have been people who have fallen out of touch with the word of God. That’s number one. And the word of God is the Bible.

It’s been a while since my Bibles have fallen apart. I remember the first two – I was racked with guilt that I let the pages go that far… But I couldn’t imagine how not to. But now… my Bibles are pretty. It might have something to do with internet reading instead of print reading. True. But I suspect I can still do more about that.

And then number two. He said most of those men were liars. I think you can lie by omission too. And this kinda convicted me. It doesn’t start with a conscious decision to lie when you’re mid-life. Did I lie in school? No. But college – yes. In social circles – yes. Simple things.

Are you going to come see us like you promised? – No, sorry, I have unexpected work at my job. —> But I didn’t. What I had was a volatile situation with a friend.

Why are you walking this side of the library? (Catholic schools/colleges in India and irrational top-down discipline). Oh, sorry – I didn’t know I couldn’t. –> But I did.

And he brought that down to a lack of accountability. It’s easy to feel that you have the right to choose where to be, to choose what to do. But after a point, you don’t feel like you owe anyone anything even in your closest relationships. And your closest relationship is God. I used to tell myself for a long time that I would not do anything I couldn’t tell my parents about. I’m… 27. And I think I’m heading back to that rule or some semblance of it. (My parents are in a different country, and sometimes might not understand what I’m telling them. But at least I’m going to have to see myself able to tell.)

Number three was something I feel so strongly about with so many of my young-ish friends in leadership and myself. Counselling someone of the opposite sex on your own. I am a pretty blocked-up-heart person. You can’t touch me if God doesn’t do some touching of his own first. And I mean in the emotional sense. Yet I know and I can feel myself feeling this! When I am on my own with someone, and they happen to confess how they feel about their own relationships or they happen to talk about loneliness or they open up to me and look at me with something like hope in their eyes – look, that’s powerful. They’re looking at me like I’m bringing hope. And of course, I warm up to them. And it’s fairly certain they warm up to you too. Which is fine.

But I, me myself – the me unit is often alone too, cries over relationships too in joy or sadness, longs for some things too, misses home too, LOVES hope too. And you put that together, and you have yourself one pretty explosive pot.

I analyse these things – analyse my emotions, everyone else’s wonder why. And that’s why I said I could feel myself feeling… Part of the reason for this is an ongoing conversation with God. But what happens when I forget that conversation?

Steve Farrar had 4 practical suggestions – stay in the Word, stay close to a friend, stay away from the women you’re not married to (his choice of genders), and stay alert. Agreed.

But I have one suggestion. And I argue that it is just as practical. It is also the title of his sermon.

Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Amen.

If worship were sweet oil

27 Jan

I give you my worship, I pour it out upon you like an alabaster flask of precious essence. And then – I’m afraid of being empty. I’m empty in myself.

Lord, may your Spirit be the one that conceives my worship, leads me to you. May my words and my songs and my worship never be without your Spirit in me, the essence, the fragrance that carries it on the air and the object of my praise.

Because words are inadequate

17 Dec

Baby, is it cold outside or what! And I think I’m in one of those writing phases of my worship time. So here I am, listening to my own cheesy music, and hugging a malleable pillow that can be pummelled into whatever I want it to be… and writing. These are what I think I will call fluffy times! These times, I can’t seem to find the words when I speak. I just want to be quiet and rest on my Dad’s shoulder. I want to think but it’s too much effort to talk. Somehow though, I can write.

80% live below the poverty line in India. That’s what the World Bank says. The government in India think it’s nearer 25% though…

31 million kids are out of school in Sub-Sahara. That’s what the UN decided this September. That’s half the kids out of school anywhere in the world this Christmas.

Today one qualified teacher made the night-life in a certain city his deciding factor for a job – it was a developing nation.

In a school I know of, one teacher was told last year that her daughter could not come to the crèche in school. But another teacher (who is lovely and probably has no idea) brings hers everyday. The administration has different policies for different nationalities and ethnicities.

My favourite in one school asked me which exciting destinations I had chosen for winter break. My favourite in another wanted to know if people had homes outside his country and how they looked.

In one of the schools I work in, they said no ‘Christmas’ because it has Christ in it. That didn’t happen anyway in the classes I went to. Parents told the old story in read-alouds and Charlie Brown told it in his own inimitable way. He did get some help from here. And the kids told it too – you couldn’t stop them.

And maybe that’s why I cannot write. Because in all our brokenness, God is so beautiful you cannot stop him. Immeasurable, immortal, invisible God, yet so visible in our weakness, he makes my insides melt when he chooses to reveal himself :). I think we all die a little every time we come into the mind-blowing presence of God. It’s probably why those old sacrifices were made – the world must die in the fire before the Father will truly take His place. And so, I am just a little bit bereft of speech, a little less in possession of my faculties before the beauty of this God. He is beautiful and I am overwhelmed by awe. He heard the kids that I heard today. Maybe he smiled some at those UN summits and maybe he wept some. And he allows us to touch him in the beauty and the pain. So yes – I am in awe. And grateful that I am left to write.

To say that this God is my God.

Dad’s on my case

15 Dec

I have had a special-feelingy day today. All delicious, like walking on crisp autumn leaves in a yellow light, or triple chocolate cookies with marshmallows and Starbucks coffee. I think it was because I went to sleep being held by my Dad. The other one. The one who gave his Son.

I noticed when a pastor in a church we sometimes visit suggested that we worship and acknowledge the presence of the Lord, like we do for our earthly fathers. Perhaps it’s the conventional Indian way of filial relating… What this pastor said was that we hardly ever say ‘Hey, good morning’ on our way out to our Dads. We made sure we went to him, stood before him and respected him… and then said good morning. Maybe my own dad has missed this all his years. But growing up as I did, in the context that I did, it was hard to imagine a dad to laugh with. It was hard to imagine rushing to tell my dad the funny line of the day or to tell my dad just what I heard on the playground… My mum filled those positions of listener and friend and most trusted confidante. My dad, now, I think is a wonderful man who is full of single-minded allegiance to that beautiful gospel that has saved us. He was often proud of my achievements outside the home – school, work, college. He would show me off to his friends.

I was never comfortable with it, but I did appreciate his taking pride in my activities. However, there were so many things I did that my father never understood why I liked in the first place. My most enduring impression of our relationship and my childhood is, I think, a feeling of inadequacy. The things I did do could always do with room for improvement. But for a child, without the appreciation that I think I craved, a relentless push towards correction and betterment often becomes faith-destroying. I think I only saw the criticism. I don’t know if there was anything else. I’m sure there was. And I know there was love. Yet, there’s always been distance between my dad and me. While that hurts me, I am not sure I would change that. The distance is not enmity. There is so much love.

I longed to talk to my Dad, try out new words on him, discover my confidence in conversation with him, earn his approval. But I still longed for him to give me it without wanting me to be different. When I found Christ, it blew my mind. My Dad actually did do all that!

Still over the passage of years, my habit of inadequacy will catch up with me and I find myself forgetting just how much Dad wants to talk to me. Just how much he’s longing for me to come and snuggle beside him. I’m surprised to realise it’s he who tells me he wants time with me… I often forget my love. And really, I know it’s I who want – no, need this time with him. But God? Letting himself need me? Pshaw.

And I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Who is my God? Who is my Father? Few sermons stand out to you years after they have been delivered. This was about fifteen years ago. And I still remember this man preaching on the father love of God. He said we forget that he’s our father. There was something about the way he spoke of it which made it so real to me. And created a hunger in me for it that I still remember. He told us to remember what a loving Dad we have in our Lord, to crawl up to him like a little child, to forget our prayer lists and our verses for memory, our notations and our to-do list, to forget even the things we rush around doing for him as if that earns us the relationship we already have… and to curl up in his lap, climb up and hold on tight and just let him put you to sleep.

The memories I hold so precious are the few memories of my dad being comforting or, once, apologising because he did love me. But recently I’ve also been reading Crazy Love which is a wonderful book. There are videos which accompany each chapter in the books. And watching this father in action broke my heart into mouldable vulnerability last night. What blew me was the way he smiles in obvious delight when his son arrives or takes advantage of his dad. It’s as if he’s discovered something absolutely delightful and it’s never going to get old. It’s as if everything that little boy is saying is hilarious, insightful and all he wants to hear.

And suddenly it was as if God was saying: Will you never know how much I love you?

I look at you and I see me. That’s my baby, I made her in her mother’s womb, she even looks like me. This is the girl who holds my heart in her fingers. Because I’m letting her in. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of you and long to share a smile with you. And everything you think (which I can hear, by the way) is just what I want to hear all about. I think those are the most amazing, insightful, funny and beautiful words I could ever hear because they are you. They’re about you. And you. You are who I want.

So I went to sleep in my Dad’s arms tonight. And he reminded me of Jeremiah 1. Not only in confidence, in the quiet of my room but also through the family birthday card and through Crazy Love. And in a million other ways, Dad’s on my case. And he’s got it covered.

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