Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It Has Been A Good Year

I started 2014 pregnant with hope and great expectations. It has been a year of key milestone celebrations in my immediate and extended family. It is a year I longed to see the fulfillment of my dreams and desires, and the manifestations of the things I have travailed in prayers before God.

Yet, going by my circumstances at the beginning of the year, I could relate with Zechariah when he asked, “How can I be sure of this?” It was mind-boggling to imagine how these things which I earnestly desired of the Lord will come to pass.

But my hope was anchored on the unfailing promises of God. He said that we shall not see the rain or hear the wind but our ditches shall be filled with water. He promised that our dry valleys shall be filled. He promised that we will recover all that was stolen, wasted and destroyed in our lives without fail and with recompense. I knew that He is infinitely faithful and reliable.

So I went to the bank with the non-negotiable and solid cheque of the truth of His Word. I resolved to standout and demonstrate my uniqueness and earnestly pursue God’s unique purpose for my life. I resolved to take definite and concrete steps towards my God-ordained dreams.

It has been a good year indeed. I have to say that God truly overwhelmed me. I am amazed and astonished at the mysterious ways God worked to perform His wonders in our lives. Each milestone birthday we celebrated was a testimony of God causing men to pour into our bosom in good measures. God’s provisions for us at times of dire need were simply an awesome display of His faithfulness to His word.

One of our greatest desires as a family has been that the Lord will use us and our testimony to impact lives for good and inspire hope. I cannot but give all praise and thanks to God for the many opportunities that He opened to us this year to share our testimony. I marvel at the way God has been using what He did in our lives to encourage others to hold on and not give up on hope. The pure joy, friends and families expressed on our behalf and the praise they offered to God, each time we shared the stories of God’s amazing works in our lives is beyond description.

It was with the abounding grace and enablement of God that we made great strides to do the great exploits we know God called us to do.

Hands of Grace Creations:
My handmade beading business made its debut in March 2013. It provided me with the opportunity to share the story God’s grace at work in me as each piece of jewellery is a piece of my testimony and bears a name that denotes God’s amazing grace abounding in me. It is my prayer that everyone who wears my jewellery will be reminded that God is infinitely faithful in keeping His promise. I am trusting God to enlarge the business in 2015 for His glory.

Feet of Grace Ministries and Foundation:
The vision for the ministry and foundation became clear. We understood better what the Lord is calling us to do to. Our mission is two-fold:
-          Share the story of God’s grace through all the storms of my life to inspire hope in those facing challenging situations
-          Create opportunities through fundraising for those who are compelled to sit down in a stand-up world to stand and walk again.
Some activities have been initiated already this year. I have a great outlook for 2015 to see the vision blossom and made manifest. Watch this space for more information in the New Year.

My Outstanding Work-in-progress:
The book has morphed to reflect the central theme of God’s dealings in my life as I learnt this year to stay focussed. “Grace For The Storm” is still not finished. I am not where I hoped to be yet with the book. But I have made great strides in rewriting and restructuring the book. I am not giving up on the hope of completing this assignment. I am so grateful to God for the many people He raised up to keep me accountable. I am compelled to stay focussed and complete this book.

In 2014, I made significant new connections and strengthened old ones. I am truly blessed to have in my life wonderful friends and family who encourage me and inspire me on this journey of living a purposeful and impactful life.

There are still a number of things that I am trusting God to do in my life and in the lives of my loved ones, and there are things in my circle of concern for which I am still travailing in pray. But I have this confidence of hope that the Lord Who has remained consistently faithful throughout this year will accomplish these desires in His own time and in His own way.

I bless God for the three amazing men in my life:
-          My courageous mighty man of valour who encourages me and gives me the space to be the best God has called me to be and to pursue God’s calling on my life. It is with his support that I can live my dream. He has been my greatest cheerleader.
-          My young men of purpose have brought much joy to my life. Watching them mature and pursuing life with passion and purpose fills my heart to overflowing praise and thanks to God. They believe in me and spur me on.

I am so grateful to God for each one of you who have shared this space with me. It is because you are here to read that I am compelled to keep writing. I am grateful for every minute you have spent to read my “lengthy” messages and to give a feedback. Thank you so much for being a part of making 2014 a great year for me and for my family.

I pray that 2015 will be a year of great visitation of the Lord for you and your family.  I pray that you will be empowered in every way to know God the more and to grow in the revelation of His will for you. I wish you a Happy and Prosperous 2015.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Out Of My Control

For many years, I travailed in prayer over these intractable situations. For months, I beseeched God for a change. For the past few weeks, my heart was weighed down under the heavy burden. They were issues within my circle of concern. I yearned for a change. I longed to see broken relationships restored. I desired a breakthrough the walls that hitherto resisted progress and improvement in certain situations. I wanted to see a Sarah laugh.

I cried out to God, “I know there is nothing impossible for You to do.”

I asked the Lord to give me the mountain looming before me for a possession. “Give me this mountain, O Lord or make it plain.”

I wanted to the power to fix the situation, which laid before me like a pile of a million pieces of puzzles.

But I also knew that I cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit, so I petitioned God to do what only He can do—change hearts and change situations.

These situations were out of my circle of control.

On Thursday, December 11th, 2014, I woke up with an irritation along the suture line on my rib-cage. Soon the irritating itch became a full blown throbbing ache in my chest. By mid-day, I was agonizing in pain. It did not respond to the painkillers or steroid. But I still went for my Moms’ Prayer meeting. It was the last one for the year and we planned to have lunch afterwards. We prayed about the pain. I was restless through the lunch. The pain was radiating deep in my right shoulder and my right arm felt numb.

Back at home, I tried to reach my husband far away in New Delhi. I needed his medical opinion and guidance. The painkillers were not effective, and I was crying out to the Lord for relief. It was at this stage, I had to call my GP. He asked me to call my Pulmonary Specialist at the Teaching Hospital. I was hesitant. I knew what was likely to follow that call. They asked me to come into the ER immediately. In a short while, the ambulance arrived at my doorstep. This was not on my arm-long agenda for that day. But the situation had spiralled out of my control.

All the way to the hospital, I struggled to reject all the suggestions of the enemy. I refuted them with the word of God. But all the things that I had dreamt to accomplish this year and those initiated flashed across my mind. It was a long list of unfinished tasks.

The next few hours confirmed again that the last place anyone want to be is in the ER, especially during this season. The pain was controlled. They ran a battery of tests to confirm the situation was not life-threatening and the suspicion was proved false. But I began to have another bout of irritating itch. I was having an allergic reaction. This time it was generalized. I itched from the top of my head to the tip of my stump. The course of steroids offered no relief. The doctors were not willing to increase the dose of the steroids. They had to determine the best antihistamine to use given my peculiar situation.

It was 2:00am. The itching was unbearable. The doctors were attending to critical situations. Unable to control the itching, sleep deprived, physically and emotionally fatigued, I crumbled on the bed. I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the itching, which I could not control. I was overwhelmed by the other issues out of my control. And the dam broken.

The nurses heard me crying and came into my cubicle.

“Pourquoi, Madame? Pourquoi vous pleurez?”

I heard her ask why I was crying. She touched my shoulder. My body was folded in a crumbled state as I sat on my stumps, my head laid between my knees and my arms over my head. I did not respond but continued crying.

“Madame?” she shook my shoulders. I lifted my tear-drenched face. There were two of them standing over me. I motioned my hands over my body.

“J’arrive.” She went out of the cubicle and the second nurse took her place, holding my shoulders. In a minute, she was back with a bottle of oil. She asked if they could apply the oil on my burning skin while we await the doctors. Indeed, they anointed my body from my face to my stumps. It cooled down the itch. It was like the balm of Gilead that calmed my wearied body.

A few days later, a dear Sista tagged me in a post on Facebook. I read the post and these words became engraved in my heart:

Those things in your circle of concern but out of your circle of control are definitely not out of God’s control. They are in God’s control and in God’s hands.”

It was a clear message from God. Like the oil the nurses applied on my body, the words were like a soothing salve on my burdened heart. It was the third message the Lord impressed on my heart within two weeks during which I pondered on all situations for which I sought a resolution, and to unravel the convoluted and knotted issues in my circle of concern.

God had ministered to my agonizing heart during the preceding week. First, I was reminded of the many instances in the Bible of when God proved Himself to be the God over impossibilities.

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – Luke 1:37

Faced with Goliath who kept taunting the people Israel and their God, David received divine strategy and intervention that gave him the much desired victory over the Philistines. I was reminded that there was a murderous Saul who the Lord touched and turned to Paul. I was also reminded that the dead body of Lazarus was already emitting odour from decay, yet God raise him from the dead and restored him to the fullness of life.

I knew there is no situation too far gone for God to turn around and there is no heart too hard for God to touch. I was reminded that the things which are impossible for man are possible for God. I can’t fix the situation. I can’t unravel the knots. But God can. I was encouraged to surrender all the issues burdening my heart to the One Who specializes in doing the impossible.

The second message, God impressed on my heart was;

Wait with joy, hope and praise.

It can be really hard to wait especially as another year comes to an end and you have yet to see your dreams and desires fulfilled. It is difficult to wait when the longing desire for a change burn with an aching heat in your heart. Waiting is serious business. Yet I know that God has called us to with hope anchored on His unfailing promises. He asked us to wait with joy overflowing from the assurance of hope and with praise because we know faithful is He Who has promised.

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise” – Hebrews 10:23.

If God said it, He will do it. God is infinitely faithful to keep His promise and fulfil His word.

I was encouraged to wait with praise because God is Omnipotent. He is infinitely capable of putting His Omnipotent power on display in each of the situations I presented before Him. He can do all things. There is nothing too hard or difficult for Him. There is no purpose of God that can be thwarted. He is the One Who upholds the entire universe by the Word of His power.

I knew praise is a very effective weapon of warfare. I knew that as I acknowledge God’s limitless power in praise, I am also calling it into manifestation in my life, in the lives of those in my circle of concern and in the situations out of my control.

The flurry of events screaming like oversized billboards and reminding me of the seemly insurmountable mountains were intent on blurring my vision from God’s omnipotent power, which is able to change the most difficult and extreme situation. They sought to distract my attention from His amazing goodness in our lives this year. So I became even the more determined to offer exuberant praise to God.

With this came the confidence of hope that I can rely on God Who resurrected the dead. He is able to resurrect dead dreams and dead relationships, and turn dead ends to open doors. The more I praised God in the midst of the situation, the more I was energized to dare to dream of a change, to dream of restoration and to dream of victory.

I asked that the Lord to give those in my circle of concern yielded hearts. I asked on their behalf for a broken and a contrite heart, and a willingness to let God have full control. I prayed for a deeper understanding of God’s power to work out His purpose in our lives.

As 2014 rolls to an end, perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation, faced with mountains of impossibilities and surrounded by challenges, I encouraged you with these same words with which the Lord encouraged me:

Those things in your circle of concern but out of your circle of control are definitely not out of God’s control. They are in God’s control and in God’s hands.”

God has it all under control. Wait for Him with praise, with hope and with joy. He is infinitely reliable. He is Omnipotent.

Match into 2015 with the confidence of this hope and assurance, and with an uplifted face. May the hope that comes only from knowing God as the Omnipotent Father and Jesus as Lord fill your hearts and home with great joy this Christmas.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pause…Observe….And Ponder

I walked through the revolving doors of the Hopitaux Universitaires de Geneve (HUG) with a spring in my step.

Full of life. Full of energy. Full of joy.

Then I saw him. He was sitting on the grey metal chair by the door of the café. In a glance, I took note of the details. He was dressed in the hospital light floral gown. He had a nasal tube connected to the oxygen bottle on the floor between his feet. I recognized the fatigue on his face and the arching shoulders due to the labour of breathing.

Images flashed through my mind. For seven years I carried a similar oxygen bottle. I could not count the number of times I sat on the same chair exhausted from the labour of breathing, waiting for my husband to bring the car close to the door. I saw the many times I passed through the same revolving door, every step was an effort, with the oxygen bottle hanging on my shoulders.

My heart was overwhelmed with memory of the goodness of God.

The storm has passed. The heavy dark clouds have been lifted. The sun is shining bright in the sky.

I have been captivated by Psalm 145 for the past three months. The intensity of David’s praise flooded my heart as I pondered on this event days after.

David declared in verse 7 that everyone will abundantly utter the memory of God’s goodness. They will share the story of God’s wonderful goodness.

Charles Spurgeon in his sermon in 1879 said, “we shall be helped to abundant praise by careful observation." In order for us to have a memory of God’s goodness, and then abundantly utter it in exhilarating praise, we must first of all make an observation of it.

“A man does not remember what he never knew” – Charles Spurgeon.

The proportion to which a fact or a truth makes an impression on our minds is the proportion to which it is likely to abide in our memory. And what we meditate on for long enough becomes the reality of our lives. The question therefore is this;

Is the goodness of God daily making an impression on our minds?

If we want to remember the goodness of God, we must let it strike us. We must take notice of it. We must consider it. We must ponder on it. We must meditate on it. We must let its full influence be exerted on our hearts.

The sight of the man on supplemental oxygen struck me as I walked into the hospital that day for my routine check-up. I took notice of the man’s situation. I remembered that I was once in a similar situation for many years. I paused and pondered on the amazing goodness of God which brought the change to my life.

Our acknowledgement of the goodness and mercies of God will become vocal and exuberant when we have it imprinted on our memory. It is from the memory of His rich goodness to us that praises will gush from our mouths like torrential water flowing through a stream. Heated by our fervency, our praises to God distils into vapour that rises up to heaven.

“So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in Your strength and glory.
In Your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim with praises like fountains.
I bless You every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise You.”
(Psalm 63: 2-4)

We can never praise God enough or too much because there are no limits to the outpouring of His goodness upon our lives.

There is no denying that God is good to all. Everything He does is suffused with grace. His tender mercies and compassion are over every single one of us created in His image—you and me inclusive. Evidences abound of God's rich goodness and mercies to each of us every moment of each day. If we pause and make take note of them, they become committed to our memory from whence they will ignite an eruption of abundant praise to God.

But many times we are blinded to God’s abounding grace and kindness to us. This is because our vision become blurred as we focus on the challenges we are facing, the storms raging and whirling around us, and the heavy dark clouds that are looming over us.

Often we forget that in the midst of each storm, God is present there with us to hold us steady as a post. Often we forget that no matter how grey, dark and heavy the looming clouds may be, the sun is still shining high above the clouds. So also is God’s love and kindness still radiating its warmth to us in the midst of the challenges and difficulties we are going through.

God always does what is right not what we want. He is always on time, not a minute early, not a second late. There is nothing we need that God cannot provide according to His will, in His own time and in His own way. He clothes the wildflowers of the valley and feeds the birds in the air. I am far more valuable that these. If this be the case, then I have no reason to be anxious or allow myself to be downcast or morose. I can be joyful in the knowledge of God’s unfailing goodness even when it may seem that it is not evident. So can you, because you count more to God than lilies and sparrows. You can abandon yourself in His loving care.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28)

The ability to make a deliberate effort to take note of, observe, focus and ponder on the goodness of God is a learned behaviour. You learn to do it. You commit to doing it.

Whenever the storms are raging, remember His constant presence and His promise never to leave you alone or forsake you. Whenever the clouds are heavy and dark, lift your eyes up to an altitude where you will see the sun is shining above the clouds. Let the brightness that sun illuminate the goodness of God in your life so that you can observe and take note of it. Make an inventory of the goodness of God in your life each day, and let the recollection of His acts of wonder imprinted in your memory ignite an abundant praise to God right there in the midst of the challenges—because God is good ALL the time.

As 2014 rolls to an end, I encourage you through the course of each day to pause, observe, and ponder on the many rich blessings being poured into your life. I challenge you to seek every opportunity to praise and magnify the name of the Infinite God without limit. Make a joyful noise of thanksgiving.

May the praise and adoration of our ever-faithful God flow continually from your mouth.