The journey of Faith – III

Faith is born- end of the beginning!As we entered the seventh month we realized that with every passing week it was getting more difficult to travel on the bike. Uber became the preferred mode of transport! Going out, movies included had to be curtailed to suit her comfort.
We had to be extra careful as to what went it (I’m not taking only about food) so the food, fruits, music everything had to be handpicked.
By July, the heat and humidity of Ludhiana became intolerable for Shalom and the countdown began to go home (Shalom’s) in Kerala. A “surprise” baby shower by our amazing friends (read aunties-to-be) at CRC (church) was the highlight of the last few days before we headed home. Last month before delivery I was away from Shalom and Faith as I had to come back to Ludhiana. Fetal movements and increased pains gave way to sleepless nights over the last week’s leading up to the delivery.
I’d planned to reach them around a week before the due date, but thanks to the impatience of both of them I reached more than 12 hours after her arrival. Charis “Faith” Joyance was born on September the 4th, eleven days before the due date. Shalom endured her worst describable pain before she was born, it’s incredible how a mother goes through her worst pain before she gets her best gift.

As I look back in retrospect, the journey is far from over. The journey of planned parenthood from conception to holding her in our arms, has really been a journey of faith for the two of us. It was a testament to the faithfulness of God.
We may not enjoy every bit of the journey but it does prepare us for the destination, for what lies ahead. Grace for the journey comes with greater grace for what lies ahead. The God who saw our unformed substance in our mother’s womb, has seen our journey from a single cell organism to the trillion cell one reading this and He knows what’s best for us.

The journey of Faith – II

Faith is growing

As we entered the second trimester, we expected to leave behind nausea and morning sickness, instead they journeyed with us into the early weeks of the second trimester. By now we were better equipped to deal with them.
Then came the summer of Ludhiana with it’s dreaded and loathsome humidity. Shalom’s intolerance to heat only made it worse, then as if to pass the testing through fire, she developed tenia pedis (fungal infection of feet). We learnt to combat this with topical creams and better foot wear.
Around the fifth month when the mom-to-be started perceiving the fetal movements I realized that this was a new way in which the mom and the fetus can bond, a privilege that the dad-to-be can’t afford! To be precise, Shalom first felt the fetal kick on the Easter morning! Oh, what a glorious day to kick your mom and make your existence felt. Later we realized that Faith had a distinct taste for music as her kicking (fetal moments) increased considerably when there was music around. Most startling of her expressed love for music would be the time of praise & worship at the church. Shalom would at times feel a kick beneath her ribs and in pelvis too as if Faith was raising both hands as in a Hallelujah!
We’d play Beethoven and Mozart at home to refine and fan into flame Faith’s love for music. Also it helped to give benefit of doubt to “the Mozart effect”! “Mozart effect” is a controversial claim by a French researcher that listening to classical music helps in increasing IQ in babies and young children, even if this is an untrue, far fetched theory, classical music does calm and sooth the mind.
His grace was enough, every passing day was a proof of that. Both of us wondering what she was upto when she wasn’t kicking, as for me I cherished the hours I spent with my hands on her tummy to feel Faith’s kick. Oh, how the Father above also yearns for us to connect with Him.
Mommy-to-be slowly got used to the stretch marks and we braced ourselves for the final trimester before Faith arrived.

The journey of Faith – I

Faith conceived

As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to father a daughter. In this series- “Journey of Faith” I write in retrospect our journey to planned parenthood. In the first installment of this series, I’ve documented the beginnings till the first 3 months (first trimester) of pregnancy.
To give a background, my best half – Shalom and I are doctors, Shalom finished her post-graduation in Anatomy and joined me in Ludhiana in July 2018, where I was in the final year of my residency (post-graduation) in Orthopaedics.
In early January of 2019 we did the pregnancy test and found out that we’re going to be promoted to parenthood soon. A miracle in itself, that we conceived in the first month when we set out to try, God’s timing is always right. As the initial excitement fizzed and we decided to keep the matters low key, morning sickness hit like a fierce hurricane.
Shalom, who had already been blessed with an hyper acute sense of smell, now had her senses going into an overdrive; just to illustrate, at supper time she could smell my breath and guess what I had for breakfast! Eventually, she had to resign from the kitchen (more like our home, yes, she found the home itself nausea-inducing). More than once the nausea and vomiting made her loath to the core the journey to motherhood making her more determined that ever that this would be our first and last pregnancy (which only time will tell, as God unfolds his plans one day at a time).
We decided to nickname our little one – “Faith”, and I was convinced beyond a doubt that Faith, our first born would be a daughter. I made it a point to sing and play the ukelele at the family prayer every night and most importantly to keep Shalom happy (a happy mother is equivalent to a happy family).
Looking back I realize that when God put Adam to sleep to make Eve from his missing rib, He definitely would have added extra doses of tenacity and resilience for the woman to endure the journey to motherhood. Volumes have been written about a woman’s journey to motherhood, but it is an overwhelming and humbling experience for a man to travel along with her to fatherhood. Now I realize that this journey has brought us closer to the heart of the Father in heaven.

Graduated from darkness

“Seeds grow in dark places”– C S Lewis

In the beginning, when the Earth was formless and darkness was on the face of the great deep, God spoke into the darkness and there was light. He switched on the light first before delving into the creation. All of creation was birthed from a formless void of darkness!
At the cross, He cried out, the cries of a Son separated from the Father, forsaken! In that moment darkness reigned, and in that darkness was wrought salvation for all mankind!
In your darkness a seed is growing. There isn’t any fanfare or evident activity, growing seed is as inconspicuous as a lion stalking it’s prey. It is incredible to see the tiny seed sending up a shoot and displacing all the dirt and earth that was burying the seed. The seed lying dead in a jar on the shelf comes alive when buried in the earth surrounded by darkness. “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow”.

Pushing up through the darkness and dirt

The same power of Jesus, the grave robbing power is made available to all who believe. The darkness and the deep don’t bother the seed which is placed inside of you.

“There ain’t no grave
Gonna hold my body down
There ain’t no grave
Gonna hold my body down
And when I hear that trumpet sound
I’m gonna rise up outta the ground
There ain’t no grave
Gonna hold my body down”
– Ain’t no grave by Molly Skaggs, M Helser & J Helser

Darkness is required to appreciate the light, a humble candle seems brightest and of most use in the darkest night. God has made you a light. Doesn’t matter if your light is a candle or a torch! A flame-torch is an overkill in a small room and a candle is out of place in a large hall way! Neither can replace the other. Each has its place to shine. The fire in the candle and the flaming torch is the same, both fight darkness equally well in their niche.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, will you?

The red carpet ass!

Who would have imagined that a colt (young donkey/ass) would ever walk on a carpet and be welcomed with palm branches? So here is my incredible story as it happened.

There wasn’t much too life, our home was in Bethphage near Mt Olives, outside the ancient city of Jerusalem. It was just mom & me ever since dad went out for an errand and never returned. As a foal I always dreamed of a king riding on my back, only later I realized that royal rides are a luxury only afforded by our distant cousins horses and mules. In vain I wished that my father had mated a mare so I would be a mule or if my mother had an affair with a stallion I’d have been a hinny! Little did I know that our cultural presumption and cast segregation was soon to be found in the dumps.

Maybe our owner was just over protective or opposed to child labor so he never rode on me, it was my mom who would go for trips. So it came as a surprise when early one beautiful morning 2 men came and untied me and my master complied happily.

These men brought me to a place where my back was decked with their coats in order to prepare me for their Master. The Master (Yeshua) was a typical middle eastern, sun-burnt Jew, nothing too fancy or attractive about Him. Heard He was a carpenter first before becoming a public figure. I’ve never seen the love I saw in Yeshua’s eyes, He could see beyond any facade and masquerade and still love so unconditionally! Since this was the first ride of my life I proceeded to think that all humans were as light as Him, I was wrong and it is in retrospect that I realize the truth when He said take my yoke upon you for my burden is light!

As we entered the city, we were treated with shouts of, “Hosanna” (later became the staple of modern worship songs), “Baruch haba B’shem Adonai, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”! The street was decorated with palm leaves and robes and coats were spread out on the street, a welcome fitting for a king. The young colt in me didn’t realize the sanctity of the situation, only many years later and wiser it dawned on me that greater is He who was on me than me myself.

Now at the end of my life as I retrospect I truly agree with Paul another disciple of Yeshua when he said that God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. Did a young wild ass deserve a royal to ride on him? The King of the universe who chose a manger over a palace, also preferred a colt to any other regal animal. A young Syrian wild ass colt was chosen by Yeshua and lived to tell the tale. Age and lineage are no prerequisites for becoming a history maker.

Yeshua wants a ride in your city, down your streets, are you willing?

The best policy

Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned is of far more value than a dollar found. In school, teacher, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.This comes from the famous letter of Abraham Lincoln to his son’s teacher. Whether he actually wrote it or not is debatable but this letter withstood the changes in times and seasons and still inspires and speaks wisdom to us centuries after it was inked.

I was probably 13 years old, when I first came face to face with the rampant corruption prevalent amongst my peers; it came as a rude shock to my protected upbringing. It was my final, end of the year exam in Sanskrit (a torture I wouldn’t even curse my worst nemesis with, it befuddled me as much as it did my class mates, I’d prefer being schooled in Koine Greek than punish my grey matter with this), I was staring at an unfinished paper and a teacher walked up to me with an answer sheet of a good student. The well meaning teacher wanted to help a hapless student (read professional courtesy, since my mummy was the high school English teacher in the same school) but little did he know that his offer of corruption of the young mind would be turned down.

I’ve come a long way since the day I first refused to cheat in the exam. My resolve to maintain my integrity became stronger over the years. Refusing to help and be helped in the exams hasn’t come without it’s complications, I’ve lost a few friends in the moment of truth only to regain them later, I’ve been labeled tags people make for those who stand out in the crowd.

People tend to associate corruption with those in power especially politicians and their kind, but what about the seemingly innocuous corruption such as this! I’m a strong proponent of the belief that corruption begins at home. The impressionable young minds are exposed to the duplicity in the lifestyles of their parents, small, seemingly harmless lies to avoid phone calls, half truths to get a leave from work and so on. These little compromises are readily accepted as a way of life, in school this gives way to copying in exams and proxy attendance. Who is to say what compromise will be deemed small and harmless in adulthood!

It is the tiny, little pebbles inside your shoes rather than a rent in the sole of your walking shoes that will cause you the greatest discomfort. In life too these small compromises which initially are passed on as acceptable later give rise to major compromises leading to a life in the grey zone as a result of thinning of the veil between the right and wrong. Israel’s wisest king had some wisdom to pass down on honesty and integrity; in the book of Proverbs he wrote: “honesty will keep you safe, but everyone who is crooked will suddenly fall”, “honesty guides the good people; dishonesty destroys the treacherous people”, “God cares about honesty in your workplace; your business is his business”.

I was never in the top of my class, neither in my school days nor in my undergraduate college days, but my unprecedented high score in my MS Orthopaedics final exams is a testament to the fact that God honors those who walk in integrity.

Its very easy to be just a mediocre and get drowned in the crowd, but only those who stand up against the wave rise up above the rest.

The best policy-honesty!honesty

The ass who spoke!

How can I ever forget the day my life turned around, the day I experienced what none of my kind could ever have imagined or ever will. Before I continue, I’ll just give a prelude to my narrative.

My master, Balaam or so they call him, is a revered seer. We live on the banks of the river Euphrates, in a small town called Pethor. Although my master is a very influential man, at this period of time, we didn’t have much, because if he did, he’d ride a camel rather than an ass! Not belittling my kind, we may come cheap but we’re as sturdy and reliable as it can be, my family has faithfully served my master and the generation before him.

The last few days we’d few royal emissaries from our king. There was this huge train of people travelling in the desert for many years and even without a well trained army or structure they had annihilated entire tribes around us. Our king wanted my master to curse them. My master had a gift, those he blessed would prosper and those he cursed would wither away and this was what the king intended to exploit. My master had refused the offer the first time but the second time I felt he would budge because the offer was too enticing for his prideful heart to resist, and very well he did give in.

We started early morning on that day, had to cover a long distance to the palace. I could see the excitement and anticipation in my master’s demeanor; he even forgot to pray before we took off for the journey. Even I was excited to undertake this journey to the royal castle after a very long time. The servants behind us carried the supplies for the way. Around midday, we passed through the vineyards of the royal noblemen, on the outskirts of the walled citadel. We were passing through a narrow path when I suddenly saw a man who looked unlike anyone I’d seen before, brandishing a sword as if to attack us. I veered away into the ditch, my master almost fell off. Instead of thanking me, he hit me to bring me back on the path.

It happened a second time, to avoid the unearthly man with the sword I ran into a fence and hurt my master, only to be beaten by him. It was then that I realized that maybe his pride has blinded him from the danger ahead of him which I could see, what I could not digest was God had allowed me to envision the danger but had kept it hidden from my master.

The third time, there was no way to escape the swordsman and I sat down in order not to run into danger. This time my master lost it completely and rained down a flurry of blows on my back! As I groaned and prayed that he could see the motive behind my action, the unthinkable happened, I spoke and my master could comprehend! I spoke in the human tongue! Balaam saw the cleared picture and repented.

Never imagined that God would use an ass to speak sense to a prophet who had lost his way! It is hard to believe that that His children whom God created in His likeness and image, fail to listen and recognize His voice. God in His great mercy does not give up on them; He pursues them with tenacity and perseverance that is unparalled and doesn’t hesitate to use even a dumb ass like myself for His glory.

And yes, He cares for those He chooses for His purposes, He cared enough to save me from my master’s wrath and the angle’s sword.

I thought I was the lone history-maker, there would be no other, but one of my kind rode on to Jerusalem around the turn of the millennia and for some reason, people spread out clothes and leaves before him. Hope he’d narrate his story too, that would be one heck of an adventure.donkey