Redemption is not about “I did and so can you” but a record of His searching for the lost, becoming a beam of light in the deep darkness of sin to let us ride out.
A storeroom full of various articles with all windows covered with thick curtains ensuring complete darkness with nothing visible and no sign of escape from that darkness. And specks of dust all around in the room fill it completely but having no value in themselves. Suddenly through a pinhole a ray of light in the form of a beam emerges and lights up the area directly in its light and a few things are seen. A dust particle emerges from the darkness into the beam of light and rejoices in it for it has now been given an image and an identity for without light it was and is nothing. The darkness had hidden everything concealing their individual personality, identity and characteristics. It was all nothing and the face given was, oh that arrogant man, that adulterous person, that liar, that cheat and many such adjectives concealing the real person. The light brings the focus on the real person and for once he sees what he is- a sinner to the core with no chance of redemption on his own for the darkness never lets you get out and keeps on pulling you down deeper and deeper. That is why in the beam of light the speck of dust- valueless and insignificant in itself, starts dancing in the beam of light and the beam provides an avenue to ride on its strength out of the miry pit.
My life was of that speck of dust in the darkest dungeon of life, filled with all types of sins with least chance of escape. An astrologer had predicted in 1982 that I will face many death traps but will never get hit by a bullet; a sure possibility being an infantry officer in the Indian Army where you lead from the front. The second prediction was that my life will actually start after my retirement from the army and that will be “the life of my destiny”. A young impetuous person desires to write his own destiny without any support from any quarter until one is faced with situations where nothing seems to be working and the physical, emotional and financial trouble tend to overwhelm you. The unknown leads one into the hands of ‘mystical fortune tellers’ claiming to solve all problems but actually the darkness without calls to the darkness within with no end in sight.
And from one astrologer to another trying to address the imaginary and real problems of life and in the process look for satisfaction in false relations, false activities and deceptions played out by others on you and reciprocated equally by you. As predicted the bullets came flying not once but on many occasions for I was there in most of the insurgency affected areas; Bombay of 1993 after the bomb blasts and providing succor to the bewildered people of Latur area of Maharashtra after a massive earthquake causing widespread destruction of life and property. The restlessness amidst all this keeps gnawing at the inside to look beyond for something more. But what more and where? It was in this that all the investments made in the share market get reduced to just pieces of paper with huge losses with no chance of financial comeback when retirement from service looms large.
And finally comes the time to hang the uniform in the cupboard and all the trappings of pomp and show of the service life suddenly disappear. In the middle of life with major expenses of life facing you in the face, hardly any money in the bank and the arrogance of power of service leaves one with hardly any friends. More darkness follows as a result and one starts eagerly awaiting the beginning of the ‘new life’ since the first part had come true and no bullet had hit the target on my body. And in came another astrologer, Muslim by religion, but that is really incidental for darkness can take any shape, color or religion to pull you down further. The magic words were heard “God has ordained for you to inherit a big treasure buried under the earth” with a warning to not share this information with others lest it goes out of reach. Then begins a new chase of special invocations and prayers and comes the appointed night, such tricks are always played under the cover of secrecy and darkness. The condition is to provide 5oo grams of gold to attract the treasure from under the earth and refusal to obey will cause death of the one most dear to you. The final settlement is for 210 grams of gold for that is what my wife had with her. On the next day when the final prayers for the treasure to come out from the earth is to happen, we found the man missing with even the board hanging outside the place, promising wonderful and unimaginable results, missing. And there ends the treasure hunt!
What to do in such a state but to look for another savior in the form of another astrologer who replaces the one gone and starts fleecing in the name of relief from all troubles. Why repeatedly falling for the same trap after getting deceived earlier- I really fail to answer this to myself or my family. The calculated loss in all these failed ventures resulted in seven to eight hundred thousand down the drain.
The ray of life – Legend has it that light comes after the most dark period just before dawn. In my post retirement life as Chief Administrator of a famous hospital in North India the ray finally pierced the darkness. One of my colleagues who was a silent spectator in this entire drama of my life suggested I visit a church nearby to find answers. Imagine after all these tumultuous situations in life one lands up in a Pentecostal Church with a few demon possessed women having their gig and testimonies of physical healings etc providing a strange atmosphere never witnessed in one’s own past religious life. And the prayer and worship reaching a crescendo with all present really charged up to bathe in the ‘Word of God’.
It is not about me – Suddenly the explosion happened in my life- the preaching was on the aspect of “God’s plan for a person’s life” and the related connecting Scriptures to Jeremiah 29:11-13. The ray of light revealed the truth about my being and the reason thereof; He planned in eternity pas; He knew the beginning, the process and the final end; He controls all along since the details are encrypted in His palm and as Alpha He starts and as Omega only He can end it all. It all came clear in a flash what Solomon wrote “It is all vanity”; our efforts are fruitless and only He can do it and He desires submission. It finally dawned that the speck of dust has its very existence only because of the beam of light otherwise it is what Solomon declares- nothing. The truth finally emerged that it is His creation, His plan, His glory and His power and all that you can do is to rejoice and dance in it. The astrologer kept calling and I never stopped him but he could never come again to my house despite repeated efforts from his side as if a wall had been created to bar his entry. The Redeemer had started the process of redemption.
But can anyone do this on his own? Jeremiah was lowered into the cistern which “had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud”. He would have perished there but the Almighty God had declared “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 38:6 & 1:3). King David rightly declares “Your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). God plans, God knows before hand, God sets us apart and His plan rolls out in our lives and above all HE IS ALMIGHTY GOD and nothing can ever change His plans. Jeremiah was rescued by Ebed-Melek at the King’s command and a rope was lowered into the cistern to pull him out.
The ray of light always comes in the form of a rescuing rope but the option to put it under the arms is left to us. We can choose to stay put as many do or opt to come out. The Good Shepherd comes looking for His lost sheep and He is not selective for He wants each and every sheep in His sheepfold. And He does not criticize or come with a rod but with a hook to rescue us from the precipice where we climb to our destruction and then joyfully hoists us onto His shoulders, rejoicing in the whole process. It is not about us but all about Him and His efforts- for He comes looking since we are blinded by the darkness. “It is not that I could do it so can you” thing, It is He has done it for me and is willing and ready to do it also for you.
A little girl walking alongside her father reached an old dilapidated bridge and the father asked her to hold his hand for safety. The girls reply surprised the father for she wanted him to hold her hand and not the other way round. “You will never leave my hand under any circumstances whereas I may” was the reasoning. This was her way of not only acknowledging his love for her being greater but also his strength. Our God is Omnipotent and His love for us is also boundless and He is holding our hand once we seek Him and He does not fail ever.
Change – The first stage – At the urging of the Holy Spirit we as a family surrendered our lives to the Lord through baptism and the first stage of the change was on; about washing by the blood of Christ to a stage of forgiveness of sins. The Prodigal son had been taken out of the pigsty where he had been languishing for years on end. The change starts with the rescue and the Father puts on the new garments on us after the confession and forgiveness of sins. The new life of outward change is over with the assurance of a ‘mansion in heaven’.
It is ironic that “the light” does not use any force or allurement to draw us from the darkness to itself while the darkness tries all subterfuges, deceptions and lies to pull us back into its fold. Unfortunately after the first stage we become complacent after the initial euphoria and that is when suddenly the darkness pounces and drags us down again. I have also gone through this and we repent and repeat the same mistake again till a state of resignation comes in- either to give up the fight and rest content with the regular Sunday worship with external clean image or go on to find some other alternative. It is in a state of such resignation that the light again appears to show us the way- “the way of riding the beam”. Resigning oneself to the power of the Controller of it all and to seek His help then starts the second stage.
The second stage – The new robe was given and now the inner man needs to be revived through a process of gradual restoration and change. Every day one requires surrendering self before His Divine altar and seeking the heavenly fire to devour the offering of our attitude, feelings, desires and will. Every act in opposition needs to be identified, repented and help sought again and again to overcome the same. The process of this stage is of the entire life and leads to perfection which the Lord attained in His form as a man through the hard journey to Calvary, the tomb and beyond to the throne. The fight is not alone for the “battle is His” and He as indwelling Holy Spirit “moves ahead of us to level uneven paths”. Perseverance is the answer to wear the ring of empowerment and authority and the lost rights of fellowship with God are restored by Him. The prodigal son wears a new and spotless white robe, the ring of authority “to ask in My name” and sandals on the feet of restoration of the abdicated rights.
I have not listed the sins I committed or the long period of falling down again and again but only about “the rope being lowered into the cistern” purposely. The story or testimony is not about me and my efforts but about Lord Jesus and His reaching out for He comes calling whether it is on the road to Damascus or in the dungeon or in the darkness of our lives. He is the light and in Him is the life and it is His effort and testimony, not mine.
He stands outside knocking at the door to come in and eat with us and He deserves the glory and honor and nobody else. The biggest unsolved mystery for me is not the way He saved me but why He chose me! How can I ever express my gratitude for His mercy to be the beam of light except to rejoice and dance in it!!
Are you ready to open the door to your heart or welcome Him to take you beyond the present stage? He is.