Writing into Deeper Waters

Writing into Deeper Waters

Three and a half years back, when I first moved out of Bangalore, I had a desire deep within me to be used by God in some specific way. As I prayed about it, I always assumed it would be something to do with music or maybe engineering (lol).

At that point of time, I had zero interest in reading – whether it was books, newspapers, blogs – the idea of reading simply did not speak to my heart. I was completely indifferent to it.

And then one day, as I sat on the floor staring at the burnt chappati that I had just cooked, an idea flashed to my mind – an idea for a story about a cook who wasn’t really a cook, a story without a very happy ending. Quickly, I wrote some words down and sent it to a couple of my friends who were really creeped out by it; and that was the reaction I had been looking for. Immediately, I began to write more – about murders, eerie voices and ghosts. Some of my friends loved it! (some, not so much)

I began to fall in love with writing these stories with plot twists. Ideas just seemed to come and I was on a high…

Until one day, I had an idea to write a similiar story. Except, this time, it wasn’t going to be a horrifying ending. I don’t think I planned on making it a happy ending either, but I just felt like I needed to write about it. It wasn’t a new story at all. It was the story of a little boy who I had heard about many times and I decided to get into his shoes and write about his day (You can actually check it out here – http://www.aweandwonder.in/the-lunchbox/)

And that is just what I did. When I shared it, there was suddenly a new kind of high in me. I loved watching people respond to my posts, but for the first time, I loved the way I responded to my writing of the post in a whole different way.

I suddenly realized that a prayer had been answered and how.. God wanted to use a guy – who truly has no idea what readers like – who has no idea what writing is all about – to write for His glory.

For the past year, that’s what my girlfriend, Prema, and I have hoped to do on our blog. We’ve written testimonies of people and wept over them. We’ve written stories and posts that have been impressed on our hearts and we have an amazing friend, Luke Alfred, who translated them into decent English.

Today, after praying about it, we’ve decided to move all our posts to a website – www.aweandwonder.in

We hope this space inspires and blesses you. We hope it makes you dig deep. You may see yourself in a lot of the stories, but the whole point of this is that we grow smaller as we grow closer to Jesus. The whole point is that we would take our rightful place in the story and realise : it’s not about us. We get to be in the story but we have to get out of our own way.

This story is about Him…

We pray this corner of ours sets you to dig deeper, get to the root of stuff you’ve been dealing with, ask questions and ultimately know God better.

And as we do that, we ask that you will pray for us as well.

 

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“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10

 

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Walking on dirt

Walking on dirt

Once a week, our group of around fifteen people meet up to worship in song and study the Bible for an hour or two.

This being Holy Week, we decided to walk through the things that Jesus did in the final few days before his death on Good Friday.

We felt that God was leading us to take part in the beautifully humble act of washing each other’s feet. I was quite excited about it, until it was decided that I would be the first person to have his feet washed, and that it would be the senior most person who would do the washing.

Immediately, like Peter, I realized this was going to be very weird. All my arguments and explanations on why I shouldn’t be first fell on deaf ears. So I sat on the chair and watched, squirming and awkward, as she carried the jug of water to me, bent down and began to wash my feet. It wasn’t perfunctory or half-hearted, she rubbed hard and got all the dirt and grime off them, with water being poured continuously. When she was done, she picked up a towel, and dried them completely. I stood up, and following Jesus’ command, bent down and began to wash the feet of the person next to me.

And so, the cycle continued – all of us washing each other’s feet, one after the other- until all were washed and all had washed. It was a beautiful moment for all of us. Some of us began to weep, overwhelmed by the love and humility in this powerful act. Some were awestruck by how the King of the universe could do this to His servants the night before He died, including the one who would betray Him, the one who would deny Him, and the ones who would run away at the first sight of trouble as well.

While we were lost in the moment, I decided to step into another room to get some paper and pens – just in case anyone would like to write or draw something. Just as I stepped into the room, I suddenly became aware of something – the floor in this room was dirty. Suddenly, I could feel the dirt cling to the bottom of my feet. I couldn’t see it, but I felt what it was doing to me. I felt it trying to undo what had just happened, trying to undo the cleansing of my feet. And suddenly, I did not want to be there anymore. Everything within me wanted to leave that room. And I realized that the only reason I felt this way was because I knew that someone I looked up to, someone who was so much wiser and more respected in society than me, chose to be humble, bow down to the lowest part of my body and wash my dirty feet. Though it didn’t seem like much, I knew that there was a price that had been paid. And all of a sudden, everything within me was screaming against taking that truth for granted.

Jesus said, “Whoever has already bathed needs only to wash his feet, and he will be completely clean”. Jesus not only washed His disciples feet, but also bathed them – bathed all of us – when He chose to die a terrible death upon that Cross. He took our place and His blood cleansed all of us who believe, so that we may be forgiven.

Yet, I realized that there was more to it than just that. The Power of the Cross is not just in the forgiveness of sins, but also in realizing the price that was paid on that dark day at Calvary. It’s in repentance. It’s in realizing what He has done, and letting that realization – that power – cause everything within us to look at sin and scream, “I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to sin anymore. Not after I know the price that was paid for me”. When you understand that Holy Blood was shed for you, that the skin of the Creator of it all was torn for you, that His face was spat on for your sake, and that His hands – the hands that washed your feet – had nails hammered through them for you, you will want to stop saying or doing anything that would lead to an undoing of His work in your life…

That’s the power of the Cross!

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Read more posts like this at http://www.aweandwonder.in

The four year old who ruined us

The four year old who ruined us

Over the past couple of months, through Little More Love, some of us have had the amazing opportunity to visit the kids at Kidwai Hospital. These children suffer from cancer, and through a project called Lifeline, we hope to help them and their families in the little ways that we can.

A couple of weekends back, we planned a visit to the hospital again, to organize a little coloring and sketching activity for the kids there. We were quite excited because honestly, these little ones have got so much energy and are so full of life, that they make you forget that they’re actually suffering. Every time we’ve been to the hospital, we have left carrying their energy with us. Spending time with them has been a true joy, which is why we were looking forward to meeting them; and we were prepared : –

  • Color pencils – check
  • Drawing sheets – check
  • Guitar – check
  • A good night’s sleep – check

But no amount of preparation would’ve helped us for what we were going to see that day. As we arrived at the hospital, we were asked to sing for a patient – a little boy who had been diagnosed with cancer four months back, and who, while suffering immensely, had touched the lives of many who had visited him.

We were told his parents were devastated that he was dying, and we were asked not to cry in their presence. And so we walked to his room, armed with a guitar and a few hymns and songs of encouragement.

As we entered the room, we saw the mother’s boy, carrying him out of the shower. We could only see his back, as we heard the sound of struggled breathing coming from his mouth.

And then she turned, and we saw him – four-year-old Nithilan

Nithilan had a tumor growing on his face. It had grown through his eyes and ears, blinding him, and had caused him to go deaf in one ear. The tumor had covered his nostrils, and half his mouth, making breathing nearly an impossible task. His face was completely disfigured.

We stood speechless. None of us were prepared for this. I glanced at my teammates and I could see them struggle to hold back their tears. It was horrible!

We did what we had come to do – we sang, and we smiled, or at least tried to, and we prayed over the little boy.

He responded with a little noise of acknowledgment.

We found out that since he had been disfigured, his parents’ families had also disowned them, and they were now looking for a place to stay, as the hospital, who said that nothing can be done, had also asked them to leave. The parents cried, and there was nothing we could say.

None of us walked out of that room the same.

I remember going home and just sobbing, and I’m sure that’s what my teammates did too. Throughout the week, the team members sent messages asking how he is. Finally, one of them decided that we just had to see him again.

The following week, despite being a working day, we made a plan to visit him.. But just like when we first so Nithilan, none of us were prepared…

 

Nithilan passed away that afternoon.

I’m not quite sure how it happened.  One of the team members called me to tell me, and when she couldn’t find the strength to do it on the phone, she sent a text.

We were hit bad. Some of us blamed God. Others couldn’t help but question His existence. We were all shattered.

I honestly can’t even figure out why I’m writing all this down right now. Maybe it’s a release, I don’t know.

 

All I know is that there is so much we don’t understand. There’s pain and suffering all around us, and it just seems like it’s so unfair, because it seems unexplainable.

It’s horrible when we have to see a four year old suffer – unable to see or hear or breath when he has done nothing to deserve it.

 

Why did he have to suffer? What did he do to deserve it?

It’s times like these that I wish I had some answers. I wish I had some words to give – to his family, to my team, or even to myself.

But it’s also times like these that I remember why the team exists. Why we – you, me, all of us, were called.

This world is a dark place. It’s not for us to decide where darkness strikes and why. But it is up to us to be a light in this broken world – to reach out to those who suffer, and pour out love. To encourage them with words and hugs and actions, and when we just can’t find the right words or actions to do that, to simply weep with them.

This is our calling – to step out of our diluted lives, and become salt and light.

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“Carry each others’ burdens., and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ” – Galatians 6:2

 

 

Asking for more presents…

Asking for more presents…

Last week, I turned 25, and I have never celebrated a birthday for this long before. A full two weeks packed with a visit to an amusement park, a ball, a surprise lunch and an amazing dinner with some incredibly special people in my life.

Oh, and did I mention the presents? (Woohoo) And I loved every one of them, which included a new phone and a badge that says “I’m a punny guy.”

Yet, here I am, asking for more…

Ever since I’ve learnt about the power of prayer, I’ve loved praying for people. There’s a special joy that comes with lifting someone up in prayer and watching God work on it. I’ve always enjoyed it when somebody’s come back to me telling me what God has done for them after praying for something.

One of the biggest prayer warriors in the Bible was the Apostle Paul. Paul prayed for his people constantly, and his heart for them can be clearly seen in his epistles.

In one of them, he writes to the church in Ephesus, telling them to put on the armor of God –

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:14-17

I’ve always thought this was awesome, and that this was enough; that if I put this armour on, I can stand strong and keep lifting people up in prayer; that this is all there is to living the way God wants us to.

But Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say –

 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” – Ephesians 6:18

And this is where I’m going, “Yeah Paul, preach it! Tell everyone to pray”

And Paul doesn’t stop there either. The Apostle Paul, who’s probably living the most righteous and God – pleasing life at this moment, who I thought had got life figured out and doesn’t need anyone’s advice or help, goes on to say this –

“Pray also for me…..” – Ephesians 6:19a

You see, for a long while now, I’ve thought that all I need to do is pray for others, especially when they’re going through difficult circumstances, but when it came to my circumstances, I believed it would be best to keep it between me and God. I thought it would be a burden on people if I asked them to pray for me, and that it might be selfish.

How wrong I was!

In a world that screams ‘be independent! Do not rely on anyone else’, I learnt that God cares deeply, not just about our vertical relationship with Him, but also our horizontal relationship with people.

We’re not meant to face our battles alone. God works through prayers, and when we don’t have the strength to pray, He lets us rely on the prayers of others.

I thought asking for prayers all the time would be selfish, but I now realize that not asking for them would be to consider myself not one of the ‘Lord’s people’ who Paul is asking his readers to pray for, which would be utterly foolish pride on my part.

Paul knew that, and that is why he wrote, in continuation to his plea for the church folk to put on the armor of God – ““pray all the time, and pray also for me”

So here I am, writing this, asking for this one thing, and promising you that I will give it back to you – your prayers.

If you’ve got prayer requests, you can let me know by clicking here (anonymously if you wish)

 

 

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“Brethren, pray for us” – 1 Thessalonians 5;25

 

My last lesson before turning 25

It’s been a long day!

I woke up quite late today. I didn’t have much to do in the morning and I decided to spend my time the best way I could – by sleeping. So yes, I woke up quite late.

I had my quite time with God, got ready and headed out. There’s an Executive Programme being organized by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and I have been given the responsibility of coordinating the worship music teams that are going to lead the attendees into worship at the start of each day.

In addition to that, I had the beautiful privilege to be part of one of those teams.

Our team, Fishers of Men, got to open for the programme and it was indeed an honour. I’ve been thanking God for the undeserved opportunity for the last couple of days and when it finally happened, I thanked God some more.

I had never imagined leading worship for any event, let alone an event with one of the world’s best speakers on Christian apologetics. To me, this was quite amazing. I praised God that He would allow a nobody to be used for His glory.

Once we were done though, my day took quite a turn. It took me an hour to find a restaurant to get some lunch at, and I was already starving. I was stuck in traffic for over four hours (Bangalore traffic is the worst), and it rained heavily. To add to this, one of the front tires of my car went flat. By the time I had fixed it, it was 9 pm, and I still had to go shop for some clothes to wear the next day.

The traffic was unbearable. I sat in my car, annoyed; cursing anyone who’d try to overtake me, thinking of all the people who would declare Bangalore to be the best city in the world and how I could look at their faces right now and say “yeah right!”

And I realized – a flat tyre, a little rain and a bad traffic jam was all it took for me to forget how much I had been blessed that same day. Somehow I’d forgotten that I had had a dream come true just a couple of hours back, I’d forgotten that God had chosen a nobody to be used for His glory. I wasn’t nobody anymore! I was somebody who had come to believe that I was entitled to empty roads, extreme comfort and no troubles whatsoever.

Suddenly, I had taken my undeserved blessings for granted. All my humility of ‘thank you for using this undeserved servant’ had been replaced by this foolish pride, screaming, ‘WHY ARE ALL THESE CARS HERE? I HOPE THEY ALL BURN’

It hit me how easy it is for most of us to get to that space of pride and entitlement, even after we’ve been blessed so abundantly, undeservingly.

It’s been a crazy day, but I’m so glad that God decided to speak through the crazy, to convict my heart and remind me how easy it is to fall into pride, to remind me to rely on Him…

It’s 1 am and I just thought I’d write this, as the last lesson I learn before turning 25, fully aware that this isn’t the last time it’ll be taught to me.

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“When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

but with humility comes wisdom”

– Proverbs 11:2

Our Lavish Cat – Love can be ridiculous

This is Ginger. Ginger is a cat – a very weird cat. When we found Ginger, she was a severely dehydrated and starving kitten on the verge of death. Today, she is a slightly overweight ball of fur that loves chasing flies around the house, even though she’s horrible at it; and who gets along with me only when she’s hungry.

But I’m not really here to talk about Ginger. I’m here to tell you about the way she’s taken care of, which I sometimes find absolutely ridiculous.

Not being cat-crazy myself, I don’t really know how people normally take care of their cats. At my house, however, Ginger is treated like she’s the breadwinner.

Everytime this creature makes the tiniest noise, my sister darts to the kitchen, asking her if she’d prefer wet food or dry food (I have no idea what these things are).

She’s not fed fish or rice or milk like the cats in the cartoons we grew up with, but instead is given some really overpriced biscuits that look like tiny little doughnuts made of gold.

Oh, and did I mention she doesn’t deign to come to the food? The food is brought to her instead. That’s right! Her majesty sits in her spot mewing till the food is brought to her. And did I mention that everytime she’s fed, her bowl is thoroughly washed, and dried perfectly? Or should I say purr-fectly?

Okay, ignore that!

If one day, Ginger decides to take a break from eating and skip a meal, my sister and mother get worked up and she’s immediately rushed to the vet, whose then has to decide whether to diagnose the cat or the family.

Ginger owns at least ten toys, including two noisy wands with bells on their ends, three scratch pads, a tunnel made of noisy paper and a stuffed rat laced with catnip.

The sofa in our house is covered with pillows. The cushions of the sofa have been kept invisible since the day it arrived– hidden from Ginger, so that she doesn’t scratch them instead of her toys. Yes, that’s specifically what the pillows were bought for.

I kid you not when I say family trips are planned only after careful consideration of Ginger’s mood.

This cat is so spoilt and pampered, it makes no sense to me at all. She’s simply a loaf of fur running around, stumbling, that doesn’t deserve the kind of attention or care she’s getting. I mean, sure, we can give her regular food, not buy her expensive toys, and reduce the amount of money spent on her.

It makes no sense at all… until I remember how much has been poured onto me by my Heavenly Father. How lavishly He has given me things I have not deserved. Surely, He didn’t have to give me in abundance. Surely, He could have given me just enough to survive and be done with it.

But He chose to give me grace upon grace, undeserved blessings over and over again.

Why?

Love!

It makes no sense to me, and maybe it doesn’t need to. As AW Tozer beautifully put it, “have you yet learned that love is not a thing of reason? Love tries to be reasonable but it seldom succeeds. There is a sweet wisdom in love that is above reason – it rises above it and goes far beyond it.”

He loves me, just as He loves you. And the way He loves is ridiculous. It makes no sense; and yet He does it, because that is who He is – that is what love is.

 

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“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…”  – Ephesians 3:17-18

Give up your crumbs

It was just another tiring Monday at work. All the emloyees at our company (that’s three people in all), were hitting roadblocks in our work and so the boss decided that we’d all go out for some samosas and chai.

One would have to be a fool to say no to that suggestion and so, off we went, heading for this little chai joint that was hardly a hundred meters away from the office.

While walking towards the place, we noticed there were three little girls in rags, huddled up in a circle.  They seemed to be hitting something that they held in their hands, tapping it constantly, seemingly trying to clean the object that they held. On closer inspection, we saw that it was a piece of a glazed doughnut that was covered with ants. The girls had found this little piece under a car and were trying to clean it up just enough so they could get a bite of this sugar coated bread-like-food.

We stared at them for a while, looking in pity; but even as we stared, we did not stop walking – we continued towards the shop – we knew there were chai and samosas waiting for us.

The boss, however, took a small detour, and as we continued to watch the girls, he walked into a doughnut store, picked up a box of sugar glazed doughnuts, and headed back outside, towards the girls.

“Stop that”, he said, looking at them sternly.

The girls turned around to see this man, almost ready to argue with him, but stopped as soon as they saw the huge box of doughnuts in his hand. They ran to him in glee, with their hands raised up –

“Brother, give us brother, please..,” they cried out.

He handed it to them, gladly, on the condition that they would give up the old doughnut – the one that was covered in ants – to which the girls happily agreed.

I mean, why wouldn’t they? Why would they not agree to give up something they found on the street, something that was a messy, icky, tiny piece of a whole, covered in dirt and ants? Why would they not want to give it up for the whole – for what they were really after?

They would’ve been fools to refuse the offer, wouldn’t they?

But I wonder – would they still have listened to him if they hadn’t seen the box of doughnuts in his hands? Would they still have given up chasing after the spoilt one? Would they still have obeyed this strange man who was asking them to let go what they were after in that moment?

Or…what if he had given them only a promise – a promise of better doughnuts on the condition that they’ll give up the old one? Would they have listened to him?

Our heart’s natural desire is towards comfort and ease and instant glorification, towards our stomach desires regardless of whether or not it’s going to make us sick- sick enough to die. It’s never been towards submission, obedience and sacrifice of the temporary.

We are not a generation who waits patiently, who realises that in the waiting and giving up of mouldy food, a feast like we can never have fathomed is being prepared for us. That we never ever have to settle for scraps. All of our soul searching and feasting is a downward spiral of fumbling across our sin and our needs, when our eyes should be higher; remembering the promises that have been made towards us, remembering the nature of God who has made these promises.

When we forget God and his promises, He still remains faithful.

I wonder what our lives would look like if if we realigned our ways to be in tune with His plan, how our lives would flourish if we said, “Yes, Lord,” instead of, “But I want all of it now”

When we step into His will and the things He’s called us to that we’d otherwise turn down, it breeds opportunities of joy, of fulfilment, of rewards far beyond our eyes and hearts can see.

Lose the messy, tiny, ant – filled doughnut.  Make room for the glorious feast.

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“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him” – 1 Corinthians 2:9