Boats of Hope

My Sunday school kids and I decided to make small boats of hope and write “Smile, Jesus loves you :)” on each of them so that we could give it to a person who is not smiling or someone close to us.

Once I told them what to write, this seven year old wrote “Smile, Jesus loves me” so I asked him why did he write like that cause my whole idea or lesson for the day was around giving this boat to person who is not smiling.

This young boy’s answer took me by surprise. He told me “My mother is smiling, my father is smiling but I’m not smiling so I

need this”

His honest and innocent answer got me thinking.

How many of us are so innocently honest like this seven year old?

My surprise didn’t end there.

I had the “boat of hope” that I call, which I made so I asked the rest of the class if we could give it to this boy who felt he needed it the most and to my surprise they wanted him to have it.

Do we do this growing up?

Are we sensitive of our feelings as well as the feelings of those around us?

Has growing up changed the way we feel, think and react?

Would you make yourself a boat of hope today?

Why I called it the boat of hope?

Well Noah was one of the only Godly men during the difficult and tough times. God told Noah to build the ark and he didn’t question God or ask for an action report as to why he should build the ark nor did he know why. He just built the ark and slowly he saw the big picture and the why’s and the when’s.

So when you build a boat of hope for yourself it’s a symbol of hope that God is there with you and you are not alone.

So build yourself an ark of hope.

The Waves.

When was the last time you visited the beach?

Well I am taking you back there now; remember the hot windy air on your face, or the cool night breeze, the sound of the waves crashing in intervals that you can’t really predict. Imagine yourself sitting on the shore, looking at the never ending building and crashing of waves, receding and crashing over and over again. The tireless cycle. Now you are lost in thought, thinking of absolutely nothing but the beauty of the waves in front of you. How refreshing was that?

Every time I visit the beach, the waters give me a new perspective on life. My last visit was the most fun-filled experience in my life and yet a very educative one too. It left a learning in my life that I still haven’t forgotten. Playing in the water, I lost my glasses. And I, not predicting an event like that to occur, hadn’t carried an extra pair. I was literally blind for the next twenty four hours.

This taught me to put set of spare glasses anywhere and everywhere I go, not only because I may lose it, but also because I learnt how temporary everything really is.

We think right now that losing that wallet or those pair of glasses is the biggest problem of the day, but it doesn’t really matter in the bigger picture because God is in control. I didn’t get lost when I didn’t have my glasses, but I learned how to let go of the fear of the unknown. It wasn’t a major step but a small start to a big step.

TRUST is a five letter word that holds so much in it. But that is indeed a step closer to not being worried of what goes by and anxious about what is to come next. For it says “ The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do.” Psalm 118:6.

Fear is a liar. If God is there with me, whom should I fear?

Jonah Syndrome

Do I have a fear of failure ? Am I running away from my “Nineveh” ?

Ever faced a situation where you were talking to someone from a different faith and something inside you started telling you to talk about God and you tell yourself how ridiculous it would sound considering the circumstances? Well Jonah faced one like that.

The book of Jonah talks about the story of a prophet’s flight away from God’s will and how God stopped him and turned him around and even sent a fish to protect him.

But it’s actually a bigger story than of a man and a fish. It’s an amazing illustration of God’s mercy and grace that we see everyday in our lives. It’s the beautiful way that he leads us into His will in-spite of us running everyday, away from it.

God was merciful to him and Jonah was running on God’s grace. He was so gracefully protected by a fish sent by God that actually helped Him to have a closer intercession with God too.

God was merciful to Jonah and let him run on grace by protecting him through a fish that was sent by God, allowing him to come closer to God bringing him into greater intimacy and a closer intercession with God himself.

Do I have a Nineveh in front of me? It could be me. Am I running away from God?

We have a God who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. No matter how harsh the waters are He just wants us to go to Him. We might feel like we are swallowed by a fish right now given the circumstances and the difficult situations around us but God really has a plan though all this.

If I was not put to a test, how else would I know that I could ace it.

Psalm 145:8- “The Lord is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger and rich in love.”

The Uncomfortable Nudge

Proverbs 16:3- “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed”

Quick self-check:

Do I like being asked to reconsider my ways, my thoughts, my decisions and my actions?

What prompted me to think this way was my recent trip with a budget airlines. As always, I had an irritating passenger in the seat behind me, who kept on kicking and the last time I had someone do this for the entire journey, I promised myself I would speak up the if it happened again. And this time being that ‘next time’, I peeked behind halfway through my journey and I noticed this guy who was definitely above 6 feet cramming his legs with much effort in order to not disturb me.

This uncomfortable nudge was a reminder for a lot of things for me.

Are my thoughts pleasing to God?

Have I committed my thoughts and dreams and everything that I consider mine to be His?

Do I feel like he knows everything then why pray?

Well how would our closest friend or family know what’s on our mind unless we convey it to them? God wants us to talk to him, tell him our needs and worries and just commit to him in everything we do.

Did we get any uncomfortable nudge today?

Guess it’s time to take the uncomfortable nudge it as a gentle reminder that “God loves you” and he’s there for you no matter what.

On your loneliness days and darkest nights there’s a Father up above who knows your needs and wants even before you ask for them. He’s asking for a relationship. Are you ready for it?

Lord, thank you for the nudges that you have been sending across that I haven’t noticed. I commit my ways to you. Be with me in everything I do, I give you the full control of my life. Amen.

The Little Wonders

My father works and so will I.

-John 5:17

These word are spoken by Jesus when He was criticized by the Jews for working on Sabbath. The Jews were people who were very fanatic in their religious thinking. For them religion was more about following rules and regulations than following the principles of religion to make them better human beings.

The Jews believed that just because God chose to rest on the seventh day, man should also do the same. But they forgot to see that God rested only from creation on the seventh day, His higher works of judgement, and mercy, and compassion and love still went on. He cares and holds together all that has been made. When we see the sun rising and setting and the moon running in its cycles, the lakes and the fountains, the rivers and rains, running their course, our bodies too and those of irrational beings continuously working, we learn the ceaseless working of the Father. For He makes the sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

What Jesus is saying here is that, human need must always be helped – that there is no greater task than to relieve someone’s pain and distress, and that a Christian’s compassion must be like God’s unceasing compassion with no boundaries of time or day. Other work may be laid aside but the work of compassion-never. Like the Jews, we too are sometimes too fanatic about our thinking. We are more concerned about the making a noise about religious riff-raff than being bothered about transforming our lives or those of others. We know very well about Christian virtues of compassion, love and mercy, but putting them into action is not something we actually bother too much about. We would rather write about it or talk about it. Mercy, compassion, and love are fulfilled only when an act for the same is performed. There is no point saying we feel compassion if we cannot show it or shower an act on our fellow human. Its like saying, “Oh I feel bad for you, but I can’t do anything to help you.”

Jesus taught of love and compassion. A true Christian should be someone like the good Samaritan who can take time out of his work to pour oil on the wounds of the needy. Our material goods are given to us not to be stored up in storehouses but to be used wisely for the Kingdom of God. By being kind and compassionate we are not only imitating God but above all we are fulfilling our Christian duty, one that we are answerable to the God the Heavenly Father for.

Let us then learn to be good Christians by working beyond boundaries that are we created around us. Boundaries of time, day, place, color, creed. Let us learn to understand the true meaning of the gospel instead of bordering around frivolous acts and thus become good Christian example to our peers.