USELESS MADE USEFUL

Useful object of a wealthy man, more of a person than a thing- a chattel, a man, not to be a man, stripped of name, freedom, choice and life.

Hey all,

Allow me to introduce to you a considered object of a wealthy man in Colossae. Well, the object was more of a person than a thing- a chattel, a man, not to be a man, stripped of name, freedom, choice and life. A machine with pierced ears deprived of all rights. That was his label until he had the divine encounter. And this encounter happened at a jail in Rome where this slave was punished for stealing and eloping from his master. The Agape who did not spare his only son to die on the cross for the redemption of the mankind did not just let him continue in the slavery and bondage. God had assigned his messenger by the name of Paul to reach this broken and shattered man. Thus he was transformed.

Wondering who this man is huh? Well, this is my story, the story of Onesimus- once a slave to Philemon of Colossae, but now a beloved brother to him in Christ. Before, I was a thing who did not even have the right to express my opinions. My life was dictated upon, trampled underfoot like chunk of waste. I felt worthless and dejected each and every second of my life, contemplating on why I was even alive. I had no one to talk to, no one to love me or even treat me like I was loved. Fear surrounded me, I felt caged. But it all changed when I met with Jesus. My encounter with Christ cannot be expressed in words. In Christ, I felt secure, wanted and identified. My chains were gone and I was set free. I became the son of the living God. Above all, for the very first time I felt what God had me to be. My life changed like never before. My God who ransomed me began his good works in me and I became a testimony in many people’s life. Paul himself testified about me like this-Philemon 1:11-Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and me.

Many a times we devalue ourselves of who we are. Maybe those around us also do that to us. But it’s just the matter of knowing our authority, our identity. As the children of the Creator, we have the power to change things around us. Our lives are more precious and valuable than all that we can compare it with. Once we understand our identity, we will be able to exercise it in our lives too. Shattered and broken, beyond healing and help was my situation. But when God touched me, it all changed. Whatever your situation is, believe that God is over it all.

Onesimus means beneficial or useful.  I was once useless but it was overthrown by God’s love and I was made useful. Once rejected, I became accepted; once insecure, I was made secure. For whoever is reading this, I want to tell you something that I learned from my life- When God meets you he wouldn’t leave you there. Your life changes like never before.

John 8: 36 – So if the Son sets you free you are free indeed.

Love,
Onesimus

 

Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

My Picture Perfect

God does not come through immediately because it simply wasn’t the best He had for me. I was clinging on to dreams that I assumed was the best.

Have you ever been in a circumstance where you are praying and asking God for a change in the way things are, but for some reason God doesn’t do anything? You are trying so hard to take another track in your life, but nothing changes. It’s all the same, you are hurting and God doesn’t seem to be concerned.

That’s where I was for a long, long time. I kept asking God why he isn’t helping and why he didn’t want the best for me, if he truly loved me.

The greatest struggle in this whole process is that you know God is God and he has the power to change the way things are happening, but for some reason he doesn’t. This knowledge of God’s sovereignty was frustrating me. At one point, I was tired of trying and asking God for help.

During this season of conflict, I started reading the book “When Heaven is Silent”. This book by Ronald Dunn just caught me when I was so indifferent to God. One of the most interesting things that it states is, “You can trust God and still get hurt”.

When I read it, I was troubled. I wanted to close the book and throw it away. It made me so angry and made me question my faith. I kept wondering, why I was following a God who is not going to stop me from hurting so much. It seemed like he did not want the best for me, and I just seemed like a fool for trying.

After months of contemplation, one evening I sat down in prayer and surrendered this desire to God, and asked him to take it from me. I know it was a beautiful picture I drew for myself, but it was time I gave it away. This was New Year’s Eve. I was supposed to be making ambitious goals and life changing resolutions, but ironically I was giving up on the grand plans I had for myself.

God did not come through immediately, but in time I realised what was happening. All this while I was trying to lead the life I thought was perfect for me. I was clinging on to dreams that I assumed was the best. But God never let it happen because it simply wasn’t the best he had for me.

I realised God was not changing the way things were happening because what was happening was the picture he was painting.

The hurting that the writer spoke about in the book was all part of the grand plan. Yes, it hurts and it’s not very pretty, but it’s such an honour to know this God so mighty has a picture for me so small. A picture that carried me to him.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Delightful Distress

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. (Philippians 4: 4)

This was one of the first verses that I learned.  Maybe it was due to the song, or maybe it was due to its easiness; I do not know. But this verse has helped me a lot of times.

At a point in my life, I often thought how a person can feel and show joy and delight in the toughest situations of life. Lets accept it, our lives are not 100% trouble-free.  In a sense, it may seem even more troublesome than others. Maybe, life might look fallen apart, circumstances may seem dire, and we may not have the perfect life we imagined. Maybe, that has shattered the happiness for a moment in our lives. We do get sad and depressed. And it is completely normal.

That is why, we are called to ‘rejoice in the Lord’, and not just rejoice in the worldly things.  For the only place where we can find happiness in a world like this, is in the Lord.

Rejoice in him, in whom we have life.

Rejoice because of the life that has been granted to us due to his unconditional love.

Trials happen in life for a reason; as God plans to build us, mold us and perfect us.  Be it trouble or happiness, can we have the heart to say, ‘Yes Lord, I trust in you’? Trusting in him blindly helps us in letting go of our fears and tensions as He turns our mourning into dancing.

I’m valued above all, worth waiting for, and adored beyond measure by God.  Jesus died on the cross for the sake of his love for us.  God’s love for each and every one of His children surpasses all human understandings.  I cannot even fathom that perfect love, let alone, digest that I’m a part of it too.  How can I remain miserable when I know that someone is out there, looking out for every step that I take? Is that not enough for me to remain jubilant at all times?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

The Art of Broken Pieces

In Japan, broken pottery is often repaired by filling the cracks with gold. They have several related techniques for repairing broken ceramics that involve other metals—including silver, copper, or bronze.

Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe speech has gone viral and leaving out the rest I want to skip to the part where she quoted Princess Leia who said, “Take your broken heart and make it art.”

That statement made me plunge into a pool of memories of a time when I had a broken heart. I knew exactly what she meant, in fact I had my own parallel for it. It was during this heartbreak that I had first stumbled upon a technique called, ‘Kintsugi’ or ‘Kintsukuroi’.

In Japan, broken pottery is often repaired by filling the cracks with gold. They have several related techniques for repairing broken ceramics that involve other metals—including silver, copper, or bronze. They even include pieces of other ceramics to fill missing gaps. These techniques create objects that are not just repaired, but rather are now works of art. Instead of disguising the damage, the flaw is a unique piece of its history, which adds to its beauty.

This idea radically changed my perspective and in turn, my life.

I wouldn’t ask God ‘why’, it only felt like a waste of time since it wasn’t going to lessen my pain. Instead, I began to ask Him to fill up the gaps and cracks in my heart with gold. Anything sparkling is always a personal preference, besides, I was so broken that I was certain I’d be glittering with all the gold when He was done.

Pain changes people. It’s just a matter of how we allow it to change us. We can make room for it and end up living together celebrating bitterness. Or, we can wave goodbye as it leaves when we allow ourselves to grieve and then slowly let go.

In retrospect, I thank God for the nights that I’ve cried myself to sleep, if I slept at all. They remind me to be grateful for every other content night.  When the tears dry up you see clearer than before. You begin to see traces of beauty in that brokenness and the God who makes all things new. Like Kintsugi, He uses our brokenness to bring greater beauty in us than would ever be possible without the break.

Consider this when you feel broken.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”- Romans 8:18

Victorious in Trials and Temptations

In the year 2009 during the global recession, I lost my lucrative job in a multinational company. Later contracted T.B. that made me bed-ridden for about 14 months. Being the sole-earner of the family, I sensed a strong force pulling me down to nothingness.

We often get perturbed losing our joy when we face challenges in life. And many a times we reckon these as falling to temptations or trials. As we see hovering clouds of failure, we start losing hope. Life tends to haunt, finding lesser reasons to live.

In the year 2009 during the global recession, I lost my lucrative job in a multinational company. Later contracted T.B. that made me bed-ridden for about 14 months. Being the sole-earner of the family, sensed a strong force pulling me down to nothingness, which at the moment made my inner being restless and to question.

While looking after my family with the resources getting emptied, pulling on with life seemed an uphill task! It was then one’s faith in Jesus gets tested, the apt reminder from the scriptures (Hebrews 11:1;Philippians 4:6-7) strengthened my faith muscles. The situation in the family began to change, I learnt to be content and began to focus on Him, “The author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2).

I would draw my spiritual strength from the Bible as I would perpetually read it. It was one of those days as I was reading the passage (James 1:2-4), “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and be complete, not lacking anything.”

These words were written to strengthen, encourage and console the first century church who were struggling through intense persecution.

The same verse reiterated in my mind. How can one be joyous while going through trials, those too of many kinds?
I would ask God to respond, getting more confused. Oh no! Am I being tempted or is this a trial?

Here my quest for comprehending the distinct demarcation of Trial and Temptation began.

God never tempts, (James 1:13-15), “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempts anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

God tests, but Satan tempts. The origins of temptations are comprehensively hidden in: the lust of the flesh; the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

Satan would not tempt us without the prior permission of God (Job 1:12). Neither would God allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, as God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13). To be tempted is not sin, but yielding to temptation is. Thus it is said, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial.” Even Jesus was tempted thrice. Did he fail? No! He indeed didn’t!

“If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.”
Even, the father of Faith, Abraham was tested. And in its continuation in 1 Peter 1:7 confirms, “Trials have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire.”

And finally when Job was tested and He saw Jesus in God himself and acknowledged the positivity in becoming victorious in trials. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

We are victorious, celebrating the victory on the cross, continue to live a hopeful life during difficult times.
It is indeed joyful to know that we are in Him during the trials and temptations. His Word and promises comfort us.

The positive consequence of persevering under trials are:

  • Stability (in Faith and Spiritual Growth)
  • Humility (The essence of Christ-Centred Life)
  • Maturity (in the person of Christ)
  • Conformity (in His own image – More God-like)

In Christ Jesus we find ourselves victorious in the moments of trials and temptations, how severe they may be. Let’s raise the banner of Jehovah Nissi!

The Unanswered question

I believe God is just, loving and knows the best for me. Job’s story reminds me that the creator of all holds my forever.

We all have a set of questions we often ask God. Mostly just one though; “Why me?”  I am a good guy, I have never hurt anyone, the other guy does worse things than I, then why me? Have you ever played the pity card? I played that when I wasn’t able to find a job and nothing was making sense to me.

There are so many situations that we don’t understand and that takes me to the life of Job, who asked that question. The Bible says he was a righteous man. I believe you get an answer when you ask a question. Job got an answer, but not the one he expected.

We want an explanation of why a particular thing happened. Job asked ‘why’ and his friends said, “you sinned.” They were finding an explanation for the incident, which is our nature, and it sounds alright to do that. But God’s answer to Job was not an explanation. God started the answer with a question which is typical of God. This is what God said-

“Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone.” (Job 38:1-6)

God sarcastically asks Job, “Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that!” I’m sure Job wasn’t expecting that.

God didn’t explain or justify Job’s suffering but instead told him about creation. God describes ostrich, horse, and hawk to him! Job was reminded that God, the Creator of the earth, is in control of everything. 

And the most amazing part of this conversation was that Job was satisfied. Job says, “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans… I admit I once lived by rumours of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumour.” (Job 42: 2-3, 5-6)

Some one rightly said, “This is God’s universe, he does things his way, you may have a better way, but you don’t have a universe.”

The fact is that God is sovereign. And it’s great, because surrendering to him is the best decision I have made so far. I believe God is just, loving and knows the best for me. Job’s story reminds me that the Creator of all things holds my forever.

“There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny.” ―Ravi Zacharias

Image by: Prithvi Samson

How the friction on the road gets me home?

Friction in our lives is often disguised as pain and suffering. We as children of God suffer in various ways.
God allows such circumstances in our life so that we are strengthened in our walk of faith.

I am a new driver. It has been an interesting experience so far. One of my latest driving adventures was driving in the snow! The weather forecast on my phone showed that it would snow at 7.A.M the next day. Anticipating how difficult it would be to drive in the snow, I decided to hit the road 2 hours before it would snow. However, it started snowing earlier than anticipated and I was caught midway in a heavy snow storm. Going back was not an option so I decided to drive slowly. With just 5 minutes away from my destination, the snow storm became vigorous. At this point, I could not see anything in front of me. The roads became extremely slippery and my car went out of control. My car was in a mood to slide on the snow. I tried to turn left and my car turned right. All the science classes I ever took did not illustrate the importance of ‘friction’ as clearly as this near death experience did.

Now, before I proceed any further, I want to say that my understanding of this topic may be very limited. It is a topic that is always under debate. We may not find answers to all the pain and suffering that is in this world. But we can trust God in all circumstances. Before you trust any of my views or perceptions on this topic, I strongly encourage you to analyze it personally under the light of God’s word.

Friction in our lives is often disguised as pain and suffering. We as children of God suffer in various ways. Our constant battle against temptation, personal sin and broken relationships are few to be named. I personally feel that there are two categories of pain and suffering. First one is the consequence of sin. Adam and Eve’s fall led the whole mankind into different realms of pain and suffering. But sometimes, not all forms of suffering directly results from a specific sin. When Jesus healed a blind man, He explained to His disciples that the man’s blindness did not result from his or his parents’ sin, but God intended it to display His power through his healing. That is the second kind of pain and suffering that we might undergo.

God allows such circumstances in our life so that we are strengthened in our walk of faith. God lovingly disciplines His children to develop within them a “harvest of righteousness and peace” (Proverbs 3:11-12 & Hebrews 12:3-11). God’s response to human suffering is always tied to His son. God revealed His redemptive work through His Son, right alongside the fall of humanity. Peter called believers to rejoice in suffering because it represented their union with Christ the Savior. Paul’s response to suffering in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 reveals how God’s children intimately know His power, which is so much more wonderful than their own. No trial, tribulation, sin or enemy can separate a child of God from the Savior. Seasons of growth are most often connected with times of challenge. As, the friction on the road helps us drive forward on the road, God uses every situation to draw His children nearer to Him. The fact that God disciplines us through such circumstances is just a proof of the fact that we indeed belong to Him.
To expect that following Christ promises a comfortable and easy life does not align with the teaching of Scripture or the reality of personal experience. The abundant life Jesus promised is not free of trouble, but it is a life in which God is glorified as believers find His strength and even joy while in the midst of pain and suffering. The spiritual life of a God’s child flourishes through difficulty.

We cannot reduce God and His ways to fit into our limited human understanding. There are many legitimate, honest questions that cannot be fully answered by finite, fallen minds. God is often doing something bigger than we imagine that usually takes longer than we expect. The fact that we cannot fully understand it all drives us to find comfort in what we can know with certainty. So the next time when you would be put under the spotlight of pain and suffering, instead of squirming under God’s loving hand and blaming Him, recognise the opportunity to grow in your faith. So can you trust God even if the “why” behind your suffering remains a mystery?

Waiting – pain or a blessing?

I was suffocating in my old job and was praying to God for a breakthrough with my husband. Nothing happened for a year.
We remained stuck to where we were and could not see anything in the real world but God was working behind the scenes.

I was suffocating in my old job and was praying to God for a breakthrough with my husband who was going through the same. We were praying earnestly to God for opening a way to move out. Nothing happened for a year. We remained stuck to where we were and could not see anything in the real world but God was working behind the scenes. And then one day God opened a door of opportunity for my husband to work abroad. We were a bit apprehensive but mostly excited and then we just walked in faith and accepted the offer. I had to quit my job to join my husband. There were a lot of uncertainties.

There are still a lot many uncertainties but step by step God kept leading us so beautifully, we had to get our visa extended and it was taking forever. We were losing our patience and getting desperate, really desperate. We were waiting because we had to, but our attitude during the waiting period was terrible. We were cribbing, being bitter, questioning God and what not, we even tried fasting not to humble ourselves but to be in self-pity and hoping to twist God’s arm. I feel ashamed of my attitude then. But God remained faithful and did not judge us for how we behaved and was still merciful. In a beautiful and the most amazing way our visa got renewed in God’s beautiful time. Then as soon as that was done we applied for my work permit and this time again we had to wait, but we had learnt from our past mistakes and decided to have a good attitude while trusting God.

In the meanwhile I applied for a job and had to undergo at least 5 rounds of interviews over a period of 2 months and God graciously carried me through each of those interviews and I got the job and soon after that within a few days I got my work permit and in a week’s time I started working and by God’s grace it’s close to a month now that I have started working.

As I look back, all I can see is God’s amazing grace, in spite of my bad attitude. Believe me God’s time is the best time and if God is not doing it your way, He’s doing it his way and His ways are far greater and far better than our ways. He knows the end from the beginning and His plans are always full proof. He will never let you go, He will never leave you nor forsake you, He will never put you to shame.

Now we have other stuff that is going on and we are waiting on God. It sometimes gets frustrating when we have to wait, but the best part is we can always look on God’s amazing goodness in the past. He is the same unchanging God who has carried us through thus far is faithful to carry us through till the end.

Putting pain into perspective

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance”
(James 1:2-3)

Whenever I think of pain, I am reminded of the story where a girl had a rare disease called CIPA, congenital insensitivity to pain. She couldn’t feel pain. Isn’t that what we ask for? No pain? If she mistakenly washed her hands with very hot water, she wouldn’t feel the pain; she could only see that damage done. If she got a cut wound, she won’t be able to feel it and it will be there vulnerable to infection until someone sees it. She has to stay under continuous vigilance as she wouldn’t know if she is injured which could be life threatening if not spotted. That’s the problem with the absence of pain. When her family was interviewed, her mother said, “I pray every night for my daughter, that God would give her a sense of pain.”

When we face struggle and pain in our life, our reaction is to take the path of least resistance, to run away from them, wish for them to get over. But here a mother is praying for her daughter to sense pain because she knows it’s better to sense it than not sense it.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). Joy is counter-intuitive to pain. How can I be joyful when all I am going through is pain? But Paul says “sorrowful, yet rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). “Though the sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning?” But Paul says “sorrowful, yet rejoicing.” Paul is not trying to run from the pain cause he has a different perspective which makes him want to rejoice instead. Similarly James considers trials a matter of joy, because they know that the pain we feel makes us mature and stronger in Christ than feeling no pain at all. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

Rejoicing also comes with the promises that he has for us. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). Even though I have a heartbreak, even though my boss fired me, even though my start up idea never got funded, even though my loved one is sick, even though I can’t reason my situation, I know that he will make it all work together for my good. And my good is the deeper knowledge of Christ and to fall deeper in love with Christ. He uses my situations and draws me closer to him. If I can believe that my pain can draw me closer to Christ, I can rejoice and I must rejoice because his promise never fails.

Brokenness

There are times when I have no idea why I have to go through so much of pain. And this time it wasn’t my fault.
Why the pain? Why the suffering? Why wait for so long for His promises to come true?

Often times I have felt broken; most of when, I knew I deserved to be, as a result of the bad choices I made. But then there are times when I’m broken not because of anything that I have done. Times that were beyond my control. These circumstances makes me question. Why? Why the pain and the suffering? I don’t deserve this. This is not my fault.

Joseph from the Bible would have probably asked similar questions. He was thrown in the well and sold to slavery, when he was only 17, by his own jealous brothers. What did he do wrong to deserve the shame of standing naked in the markets of Egypt when Potiphar’s wife bought him? Or when he was thrown in jail for integrity? In the end we do know that God worked it out, but for 13 years his life was going haywire. I can’t imagine the brokenness he carried. But those years were not wasteful, as God used his brokenness to be a blessing.

In Luke 8, we see Jesus multiplying the 5 loaves and 2 fish by breaking them. After they were distributed, there were 12 basketful of broken pieces left. Broken pieces became the symbol of God’s blessing.

Our times of being broken can turn out to be a blessing, if we surrender to God. Isn’t that wonderful? David writes in Psalms 51, “a broken heart and a contrite spirit is all you need.”

God does not despise a broken heart.

I’m assured that He can turn my brokenness into a blessing.