Recently our locality experienced a gruesome murder. Since we had not witnessed even a petty theft for several years, this incident shattered the myth that our neighbourhood was a peaceful one. The murder occurred in an area of only nine flats, and came to light three hours later. After the police formalities, the body was brought home for final rites. While expressing grief in a loud voice is not uncommon in our culture, we were all heartbroken to see the son-in-law of the deceased woman wailing in agony and placing candles around the casket.
Two weeks later, when the culprit was caught, the entire community was shocked to learn that it was none other than the son-in-law! He brutally murdered his mother-in-law in the kitchen while she was preparing dinner for him and his accomplice, all because he could not find the 20,000 rupees (an equivalent of $270 USD) and gold ornaments she had hidden from him. At barely thirty years old, he had already mastered the art of pretension.
In another incident, a newly-hired doctor in our vicinity, who professed godly values and boasted that he chose this profession only to serve humanity, admitted two patients into the intensive care unit for three days for an ailment that could have been successfully treated with antibiotics. It was later discovered that this doctor had committed this dishonest act because he had been eager to impress the authorities with his ability to get extra income for the hospital.
These incidents haunted me, provoking me to examine myself. My eyes fell on Jeremiah 12:2, which says, “You are always on their lips, but far from their heart.” Jeremiah begins with reasoning and pleading on behalf of God. The issue in the passage revolves around the unfaithfulness and rebellion of the people of Israel and God’s warning of impending judgment unless they repented. May our reasoning with God always lead us to self-examination, and ultimately toward repentance!
As each year passes, I have grown in my position, profession, and worldly possessions. Most of my initiatives have borne fruit. But as I pondered my “successes,” I asked myself: Were the fruits of my labour for myself or for God? Was all of this about good works and worldly substance, without any fruit of righteousness? Has my “growth” been in the domain of holiness, or was it just in terms of material riches?
I recently read a survey on pornography use in nations across the globe. To my amazement, both the Philippines and the Indian state of Mizoram – nations that are almost 100% Christian – topped the charts. The traffic to pornography sites decreased only on Sunday mornings until noon, when it increased again.
“Yet You know me, O Lord, You see me and test my thoughts about You.” (Jeremiah 12:3)
Honesty is what others see in me. Integrity is what I glorify God with. We must ask ourselves some difficult questions.
Am I Growing?
Have I grown in purity? Have I grown in my love for God and others? Has my faith grown? Where there is no faith, there is no love. God knows me inside and out. How much do I know Him despite having walked with Him for over 40 years?
Having served with two Christian organizations for 30 years, with a good beginning and a busy schedule that makes me look like I am “serving God,” I have often failed to realize that it was my fellowship and intimacy with God that really mattered to Him above everything else. If my knowledge of Him has not transformed my spiritual life from mere religion to deep relationship, if my prayers have not moved from politically-correct words to heart-felt thoughts, I am spiritually stagnant.
Do I Know Him? Unless I grow to know and love Christ better every day, spiritual stagnation is bound to set in.
Sadly, many stalwarts of the faith have fallen because, by and by, they became too busy to commune with the Lord. But those who waited on Him overcame worldly temptation and continued to walk in their journey of faith; those who did not kept backsliding and became unfruitful.
Mother Teresa once wrote, “There is no God in me,” in one of her personal letters to her spiritual advisors (Mother Teresa: Come, Be My Light). She called her vow to God both “the inspiration” and “the darkness.” The latter was her term for the feelings of loneliness and abandonment she experienced when her communion with Jesus ended.
In another letter, she wrote, “Darkness is such that I really do not see – neither with my mind nor with my reason; the place of God in my soul is blank. There is no God in me; when the pain of longing is great, I just long and long for God… The torture and pain I can’t explain.”
Would that we have such a longing to be with our God!
The Sun Still Rises
In the midst of reports of Christian leaders and ministries failing, God is still on His throne.
In Darjeeling, people wake up as early as 3:30 AM, drive for 25 minutes, and walk even further to see the sun rising in all its splendour. On some days however, they return disappointed, having seeing no sign of the sun. Does that mean the sun does not exist? No. It is just that thick, dark clouds rising on the horizon obstruct the rising sun on those days.
So it is with us, when the dark clouds of adversities overwhelm us and we feel like giving up, thinking that the Son of God has failed to show up.
“God’s love is meteoric, His loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, His verdicts oceanic. Yet in His largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse slips through the cracks.” (Psalm 36:5-6, The Message)
He never lets His creatures down. His righteousness is like the mountains. His hand may be invisible due to snow, fog and smog, but not for long.