INESCAPABLE INTRUDERS

The first cries of a new born baby pronounce him/her having ‘passed’ the examination of healthy normalcy. Wow!! What an age to begin appearing for exams!! Poor little infant doesn’t even know that the series of examinations has only just begun!

And from then on, no shying away from appearing for the exams that life doles out at various stages in myriad ways!

When I was preparing for the Indian Civil Service examination, the enormity of the syllabus overwhelmed me. The prescribed syllabus was just a pointer to practically everything under the sun. That’s why there goes a common expansion to the acronym UPSC as Un-Predictable Service Commission 🙂 (it’s actual expansion is Union Public Service Commission). The syllabus is unpredictable, the questions are unpredictable and the result is the most unpredictable of all!! But, still lakhs of aspirants from all over India slog to compete for this exam each year and many don’t quit till the last attempt is over.

Unlike educational exams, the tests of life are not choices that we tend to make voluntarily. Life’s examinations are the results of permutations and combinations that we find ourselves a part of. No matter how challenging or alarming, the tests of life are elusive to none. The interesting outcome of life’s examinations is that one still proceeds on to the next stage of life irrespective of the result. So you see, unlike career examinations, success and/ or failure cannot and do not stop life from moving ahead. But yes, they do impact how life moves ahead.

Who is the Examiner?

Though it might be tempting to believe that God conducts all of life’s examinations and He is the one who would give us the certificates with the remarks ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, ‘well done’ or ‘you need to work harder’, it is not true. To give an example, a person driving on the highway sees the wide smooth road ahead and seeing no sight of man or vehicle decides to accelerate the speed beyond the limits. In no time there appears a vehicle from the opposite direction and baaaaanggg – both vehicles collide!!! The driver gets arrested for overspeeding, has to pay a hefty penalty and his driving license is suspended for a three months. To conclude that God put this driver through a tough examination is absurd.

There are many such struggles in our lives which we drag ourselves into either because of our faulty thinking and decision making or at the behest and provocation of others. Though God does not lead us into such wrestling matches, He sure is the Shepherd to steer us out into pleasant pastures if we admit our folly and choose to seek His help. (God never imposes His help on anybody)

However, there are some other examinations that God in His wisdom allows in our lives. They may be the likes of sickness, unemployment, difficult marriages, childlessness, an intolerable boss, job posting away from home, special needs children, poverty, affluence (yes, even prosperity and affluence test us) and many such ordeals over which we seem to have no say. There can be three human responses to these rough winds that blow on our faces.

  1. To curse God and lose faith in Him.
  2. To take things in our own stride
  3. To surrender to His will and seek His intervention.

When we choose to respond in the first way, i.e., blame God for our difficulties and turn away from Him, it fills our lives with bitterness and self-pity, creates inroads for addictions and sicknesses and ultimately drives us into self-destruction. Life goes on, but with emptiness.

When we take things in our own stride without blaming God but not wanting His assistance to tide over the rough patches either, we tend to lose time and efforts in trial and error strategies – going round and round weighing the options and thinking of probable correct answers and sometimes even failing to hit at the solution.

However when we rely on God and seek His intervention, He does the impossible in our lives. Yes, the impossible! Or miracles, if you would like to think that way. Test Him on this if you will and you will know for yourself.

I remember reading about a God-fearing affluent person who lost a majority of his wealth in one day. To add to his misfortune, the roof collapsed and killed all his children while they were partying at a venue. In course of time, he developed a kind of incurable skin ailment which filled his body with sores and stinking pus. Even when his wife smirked at his foolishness for holding on to his faith in God in spite of all the struggles that they have had to go through, he did not let go of God. Things continued that way for a long time, after which gradually God blessed him and restored his health, wealth and blessed him with children to fill the void in his household.

Not all events of seeking God’s intervention in life’s examinations result in such tangible successes, however. At times, struggles go upto the very last breath with alternating jostling episodes of leaning towards God and withdrawing from Him in utter frustration and helplessness. In such times, the deliverance from such continuous phases of examination can be experienced only in eternity.

If you are going through a bitter life trial which you find difficult to endure or escape from, I entreat you to put your faith in God and see the difference for yourself.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

EXAM! HOW TO DEAL WITH IT?

Every evening while on my way back from the office, I always see a cute little girl with her Dad at the bus stop. Every time, the girl will be holding a chips packet in her left hand and her Dad’s finger in her right hand. Her Dad will be holding her big schoolbag and waiting to get a taxi or bus. The girl looks happy, feeling very safe and relaxed from studies, she appears to be in her own world and talking something non-stop. And usually, her Dad’s response was “yea…yea. Yes… okay… good”, keeping her busy in her imaginative world. Meanwhile, most of the time I used to be on call with my cousin explaining her the moves of this cute girl and the beauty of her cute little fancy frock. I just love that scene. Every time our talk about that girl used to end with one wish – “Wish we could time travel to our school days & make a permanent stay there. There will be no rigorous life exams, no worries, no heart-aches only eat – study – sleep and play. What a blissful moment, we lived!” As I resonate with my present feelings looking at that schoolgirl, it reminds me of what I was thinking in my past looking at an adult. I used to think – “When shall I become a grown-up man, there will no exam pressure, absolute freedom to roam anywhere I want and enjoy life to the fullness.

One among the greatest urge of every human mind is,

“Life would be filled with comforts & the availability of Easy-go for Prosperity”.

There was a rich man having a big business empire, in his entire career he always malpractice for success. In fact, he was so shrewd and skillful in malpractice in his life that never ever any of his teachers were able to catch him red-hand. Finally, he becomes one of the most recognized successful businessmen in his city. To celebrate and showcase his luxury, one-day he invited his school friends and the school teacher for a dinner party at his home. As the party began, he started boasting about his cunning ideas to success and the final point of his boastful talk was – “There is nothing wrong to cheat and succeed in life. Since life is a competition, cheating to succeed is always welcome. As a matter of fact, ‘cheating is a skill’.” After his talk, his school teacher said, since all your school batch mates are here, let me test your intelligence. If you pass, then I will agree with your statement. Someway, the billion-dollar businessman was able to cheat and succeed again. The businessman criticized his school teacher publicly. As the feast was over, the school teacher made a personal request to the businessman asking him how did he manage to cheat everyone in the test. The businessman took the teacher into his bedroom and explained his cheating tactics. As he finished boasting on his cheating tactics, immediately the toilet door opened and his 10-year old son came-out and looked at his father with a cheeky smile. Tears dropped from the billion-dollar businessman’s eye and both the teacher and the son departed from the room.

Despite the veracity, voracity & the variety of examinations from the classroom desk to the real-life, it cannot be denied that examinations always trigger intense mental and emotional pressure (sometimes resulting in physical pain) and an immense amount of challenges in life. In order to get rid of the clutches of pressure and for the easy-go for success, we tend to take short-cuts in life. In concern to it, renowned Christian author Ravi Zacharias tweets,

The shortest route is not always the best route,

because often times it can bypass life’s most important lesson.

In examinations, short-cuts/shortest routes to success demand breaching of the ethical and moral boundaries in life. India Today research says, more than 52% of men and women between 25-50 age living in metros consider copulation with higher authorities is a shortcut to professional success and it’s okay. Well, some of our Bollywood movies (ref: Corporate, 2006) have accurately presented the consequence of the use of such strategies from all angles of life.

The Bible says,

“Wise lives among many counselors and he listens to them whereas the fool rejects counsels, his ways are right in his eyes. The wise fear the LORD and shun evil.”

Furthermore, the depth of knowledge and the timely implementation of knowledge decides who is wise. Since God understands the finitude of the human mind and the need for knowledge during the time of the test alongside our hard and honest work for success, He (The God in the Bible) has promised us –

“Ask Me and I will give Wisdom, Knowledge & Understanding. I will give you Wisdom and from My mouth flows Knowledge and Understanding.”

Featured Image source: The New Yorker Post, EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM-1

TRIUMPH IN FAILURE

 

Wings, I had wings

To soar high without any attached strings.

 

Dreams, I had dreams

To be the cream in the midst of creams.

 

Goals, I had goals

To touch many parched souls.

 

Ways, I knew the ways

To move on ahead along the coasts and the bays.

 

Steered, through every winding road I steered

No hill, valley or desert I ever feared.

 

Pinnacle, yes my aim was the pinnacle

To reach there, I needed a miracle.

 

Efforts, I put in hard and smart efforts

And I was offered all available supports.

 

Changes, alas there arose changes

In the contours of life’s ranges.

 

Questions, many questions

Gripped at all times the head and heart.

 

Faith, in God strong faith

Was the anchor while the river was in full spate.

 

Alone, never did I feel alone

Remembering always that God is still on the throne.

 

Own, never would He forsake His own

In hopelessness I would never bemoan.

 

Shine, for His grace shall on me shine

And not let me sorrowfully whine.

 

Hope, indeed I have a blessed hope

That I would in darkness never grope.

 

Victory, awaits me sweet victory

To bring an end to this journey’s story.

Leaving behind what I could not achieve this year is easier than treading on my way to the year kept in my future. So let me start with the easiest one –
‘Letting go of my past’. – Chiradeep

 

KEEP UP THE FAITH

It’s time to bid adieu to this year and welcome the new year.  It’s time to recollect the best times that this year gave and to dream for the next year.

For me, 2018 started with new hopes and new beginnings,  while putting an end to the sorrows and sufferings. Though there were remarkable changes that I went through- settling into a new city,  moving from a joint family to a nuclear one, my tag being changed from working mom to a homemaker,  the end result was worth it as I was reunited with my husband after one year of staying apart. The year also witnessed some lows as I lost a beloved family member. But,  at the same time,  God was kind enough to bless our family with good news too.
To accomplish great things,  
we must not only act, but also dream, 
not only plan,  but also believe. 
– Anatole France.

The year taught me to keep dreaming, without losing hope.  God tested my patience and gifted what I had asked for. The biggest learning for me was- just keep going,  just like the time!

With new dreams,  new hopes,  but my same old self,  I will step into the new year.  So, I hereby wish everyone peace and prosperity for 2019. Just keep dreaming and keep the faith in Him.

HOPE IS ALL WE CAN

Going to the bed,
With the hope of a brand new day,
Promising to start afresh,
Without knowing what the life has to say.

Building castles, booking travels,
With the hope of reaping the benefits,
With the hope of rejoicing the places,
Savouring without bothering,
A U-turn life may be offering.

Holding the egg for 9 months whole,
With the hope of getting nature’s dole,
The Baya weaves its nest,
with the hope that the wind will rest.

Life doesn’t stop,
It doesn’t stand still.
Hope anchors our souls,
It strengthens our will.

Tomorrow may bring dark,
It may bring light.
Hope for the best because,
The sun will always shine.
For the best because,
Hope is all we can.

IN THE END

When your time is near,
And your heart reflects fear,
And you’re breaking down in tears
Because you’ll lose all you hold dear;

When faith unfaithful
Turns her back,
And the vision before your blurry eyes
Turns tar black;

Remember the only thing
That will always hold true –
That even in your end
He hasn’t forsaken you.

God still loves you.

Pradita Kapahi