Rev, Sudha Mehta©
Life is all about choices.
I have never had a desire in my life to preach at someone, or to force anyone to believe, or even to think as I do. I also do not see that in scripture. Persuade yes, force no.
God entrusted two lovely children to my care, I believe it was a task given to me to raise them up rightly:
Eph. 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; instead, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
I take this to include mothers as well.
Raising children was the highlight of my life. I had no desire to be a career mom, rather, had every desire to be the best mother I could be, and that meant being able to be available. I do not hold anybody else to my standard, it was just my desire. Even as a teenager when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “A good wife and a good mother.”
Perhaps this was a great compliment to my mother.
Anyway, raising my children being my highest priority, I raised them to think for themselves. They needed to know what the choices were and then to pick the right one. It doesn’t mean I did not make the choice for them when they were young, rather that I taught them to know the difference between right and wrong. Very often, I used examples, stories, parables to teach.
I see this as a method much loved by God Himself. Jesus used parables. Solomon used this skill in Proverbs and Ecclesiastics. The prophets made great use of this method. The Bible is replete with prophecies given in fantastic word pictures.
For me, this was a skill I learned from my earthly father, who was a great parable teller. There was a lesson everywhere in life. Life was a classroom for both my parents. The lessons were different from each, but teaching life lessons and skills was the goal.
No matter where I was with daddy, he had a lesson to teach. If I saw a caterpillar on a leaf, it was a short biology lesson both about the life of a caterpillar and the veins of a leaf. I learned about rain cycles from daddy before learning it in school. The sun, moon and stars, yes, he taught me about them. Mini science lessons on any subject . . . he gave them. Touch, feel, experience, grow, learn about how awesome creation is . . . ! In process, daddy also tried to teach me about the Creator, however, he didn’t know the Creator. So, I learned about the various Hindu gods and also learned about other religions.
He didn’t stop there. To my siblings and myself he gave lessons about Confucius, Arabian tales including Sindbad and Alibaba, and Bible stories of Solomon, Samson and more.
In the supernatural, we heard some spooky stories of strange happenings, He told us about a person being in two places. People disappearing from one place and showing up in another. Supernatural happenings.
History was not a subject he shied from either. Indian history was rich and we learnt it first from him. The various conquerors that had come along over the many centuries, the great kings that resisted and held their ground, the princes and the beautiful princesses . . . he had a way to tell a story that kept our attention even as we learned lessons that we applied in our everyday lives.
Mommy taught different lessons. My sister and I learned how to walk, talk, sit, stand like ladies. How to hold a tea cup with the pinky finger in the air, yes, we learned that too! We were not rich, there was no “Charm school” but mom was a very graceful, beautiful and charming lady. She was gracious as she was graceful. Gentle and caring, a gracious hostess, a great life partner for daddy and a wonderful mother to us.
I learned how to sew, knit, embroider from her. In an era when if you needed a sweater you had to knit it, I learned very early. At age five I made my brother a vest. I took my knitting to kindergarten and sat on the steps during recess doing knit two purl two. Mommy did the complicated parts of shaping, but I was a natural. The same with sewing and embroidery. By age thirteen I was making most of my clothes. In high school I even made clothes for my friends.
When India went to war with China, I was a teenager and spent nights with a dim light and black papered windows knitting socks and sweaters for the soldiers. Some memories, eh??!!
Mommy taught us to be modest and respectful, always insisting pride was not a garment becoming a lady. She was responsible to teach us about inner beauty, about politeness in language and manner. She taught us not to hurt each other but rather to love, deferring to one another.
I was a middle child, and their were times I found these “caring” lessons a bit hard, but I can tell you having been trained by them, I have no regrets. What is more, even though we as siblings went on in adulthood to follow our different life paths, we still are very close to each other. We would do anything to help each other. We love, care and hold one another in high regard.
Armed with these life lessons we were prepared for life but the hardships still caught us by surprise. for myself, I can say I thought since my family was very loving everyone else must be the same. It was an incorrect and naive assumption.
However, because we were so loved in our home, we understood that we were second to none and less than nobody. We had a healthy sense of self-worth yet we deferred to others. We developed a strong positive character that hardship could not defeat or tear down. A strong self identity held us through hardship and shaped us. It made us stronger, not weaker.
Take for example the hardship of a quarter century of a very abusive marriage, it shaped me, it honed me but it did not fundamentally change my character. I emerged a much stronger version of me. It was going through the fires that purified me for the Master’s use.
It says in:
Malachi 4: and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
I think I can apply this to me. He put me through the refiner’s fire to purify and cleanse me.
Oh, I did whine, I did cry plenty! There were times when I could have sold tickets to my pity parties! You would have paid and I would have made some money. I complained and carried on times too many. When I felt I just couldn’t take it any more, the Master said:
2 Cor. 12:9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.”
I discovered He knew more about me than I did myself. He showed me my threshold for learning through pain was not as low as I imagined. Suffering injury to my spirit, soul, and body and being thoroughly persecuted for my faith was not fun. Labeled a traitor to Hinduism, I was an outcast for a long time.
2 Cor 12: 9b Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10 That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
There was solace in knowing I was not alone in history and that even today my brothers and sisters around the world suffer for the Cross.
When I went on brief missions trips to India I met a number of people that carried the last name of Masih. This intrigued me, so I asked if they were related. I was not prepared for the answer. “These people have been cast away from their families and have been disowned. So, they have taken on the new last name Masih which means Messiah, to show they now belong to the family of Messiah.” There were no victims there, only victors!
Countless of you go through unspeakable horrors in the name of Christ around the World. You have lost your homes, jobs, families and perhaps more. Some might be in prison, others may have endured beatings and more. I have no right to tell you how to live and bear up under the circumstances. I cannot begin to compare my trials to your suffering, nor would I dare to.
However listen to what Paul said:
2 Cor. 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
And remember our Lord Jesus:
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps:
22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in His mouth.”
23 When they heaped abuse on Him,
He did not retaliate;
when He suffered,
He made no threats,
but entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.
24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree,
so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
“By His stripes you were healed.”
I didn’t like glib answers when I went through my time in the furnace, I don’t expect you to like any one preaching at you.
Here is a lesson I taught my children repeatedly: “Life is nothing but choices.” People come and go, trials come and go, situations come and go, through the sorrows, trials, hardships, sufferings, as well as the good times, what you retain is what defines your character. Besides, as difficult as it may be, He promises to never leave you nor forsake you (Heb.13:5).
At the very height of persecution in my life when my character was maligned and I was made a public spectacle, I cried out: “Father, the two things I have clung to in my life are my honor and my integrity, today these are on display as filthy!”
Instantly He asked me a question, “When my Son hung naked on the cross for you, where was His honor and integrity?”
I humbled myself at His feet. I had no answer. What would you have done? Would you have an answer?
James 4:6 But He gives us more grace. This is why it says:
“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you. 7 Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
Choices . . . life everyday presents us with choices. Every situation is a classroom situation, I can choose to do right, or I can choose to do wrong. For myself, I choose to follow the way of the cross in strength, dignity and honor. I choose to teach others to do the same. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
You choose for you. What will you do?