Your unfinished story matters!

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I sat in the Women’s Fellowship waiting for my turn to share what God has been doing in my life, especially during the last four years of challenges. It wasn’t easy to recall everything that has happened in the past and how I managed to face it. Even though the severity of my challenges is now reduced, they are still present. I was actually sharing my testimony from the place of waiting…waiting on God.

Bringing the scars to life again was not possible without being emotionally moved. Words chocked in my throat and my heart was heavy sharing about the goodness of God and His abundant grace on my life. If not by His grace I wouldn’t even be living today; and that is the biggest part of my testimony I could ever share with them.

The trauma was unbearable after the scary diagnosis of my daughter four years ago.Each day had been a  challenge. All I wanted was to get relief from the heartache I was going through. It was unbearable for me to see my child suffer day and night with seizures, vomiting and many other health issues. I was clueless as to what the future would hold for her.

As a mother, I felt helpless; not being able to comfort her in any way. Numerous sleepless nights, hospital visits, blood tests, one after another treatment plans, following my son’s severe speech delay & behaviour issues and most of all the chaos in the family made me to doubt God’s love and even His existence. Why wouldn’t He see my tears? Why wouldn’t He stop this storm? I questioned…

..but at the end of the day, all I could do was hope. Hope for a day when everything would be ok…and this hope was given to me by Him. In the midst of all these hard days, if I could still come to His feet, dive into His Word, trust Him for my future, praise Him for leading me each day, think of pursuing my passion, it was all because of the hope He placed in my heart. He strengthened me when I felt weak, He lifted my soul when I felt all was lost. He held me near Him when I felt bitter and troubled.
“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

As I began to share my life in the women’s meeting in the church, I wondered if my story from my waiting season would make any difference to them. Because I had no miracle to share except the story of my continued faith in God; my perseverance and the hope I clung to in the midst of my challenges. But the things I was hesitant about in my story became the most impacting insights for them. He used my hurts, my tears and my disappointments to bring encouragement to their hearts.

I realised that my testimony is not something about my greatness but His glory alone and how He wants it to be. It doesn’t have to be perfect but true and genuine. It doesn’t have to be a miraculous or glamorous one but hope-filled and real.

Friend, are you in a season of waiting and wondering if your life story would ever be a blessing to others? Do you feel that you haven’t got any miracle to share yet? Do you feel your testimony doesn’t make any sense?

God wants to use your broken places to bring glory to Him. He wants to be glorified in the midst of your waiting season. Your testimony is all about His glory no matter how it looks at present. He wants you to share your life right from the places where you feel broken, discouraged, and hopeless. He wants you to bring comfort to others with the comfort you have received from Him.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

 

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Treasure inside

trresure inside

A few days back as my husband and I were  having a talk in our kitchen, he asked me a question.

“Why are you so slow and dull when you are working in the kitchen but energetic when you are working at the laptop?”

He was right in his observation of me and I also admitted that the kitchen is not my thing. Either I work too slow thinking, dreaming & travelling in my thoughts or I do just what is necessary to get the kitchen work done as soon as possible.

To express my feelings in a more elaborative way, I told him a story which I read a few months ago; it really helped me understand why I am the way I am.

The story goes like this:

One day a man caught three fish from a stream. He placed them side by side on the grass. Before he removed them from the water, they were so vibrant, graceful and alive but after he caught them, it was another story.

As the fish lay on the grass, they were motionless. Their eyes had no movements, they panted for air and they looked and acted weird. The man noticed that they seemed unhappy, so he talked to them, hoping that his encouragement would change them.

Still no movement, no response and no change.

The man was sure that the fish would adjust and learn to like the grass. He liked the grass so why shouldn’t they? He thought. But still the fish didn’t blink and they just lay there looking dumber by every second.

Finally a little boy approached shouting, “What are you doing? Put them back! They can’t be all they’ve been created to be when they are out of the water.”

After getting convinced, the man carefully placed each fish back in the stream. As soon as the fish got into the water, they began to swim fluently with their original vibrant energy. The man realized that no matter how long the fish lay there, they would never adjust to the grass. In fact, they would eventually die. Because they weren’t created for grass but for the stream.

I told my husband, “I feel like a fish on the grass doing kitchen things which is not my gifting and thus I can’t give my best here. But when I am writing, creating something, exploring, encouraging others, investing in their lives, seeing my life is being used for Kingdom work then I am more like a fish in the stream.”

I remember, a couple of years back, I felt so inactive, dull, weird and unhappy with my life. No matter how hard I tried to adjust myself with the daily house chores and convincing myself that the role of house wife is the best and fulfilling thing I could ever do, there was something missing. My heart wasn’t coming fully alive when I did these things. I felt incomplete. I just felt the same as the fish on the grass until one day I understood that I was created for a specific purpose apart from the household work I do. My feelings were the real me. There were reasons why I felt and acted this way and why I had this dissatisfaction within me; I was created with those inner desires, potentials, and God’s assignment for my life.

When I allowed myself to unlock my feelings and listen to my inner voice, God helped me to identify the treasure He has given me. The treasure included my potentials, my interests, my personality and my life experiences. Now it was time to use it for His service and glory. Once I was able to use this treasure in all the possible ways I could, I felt like those fish in the stream…vibrant, energetic and alive.

Have you ever felt the same way?

I don’t know which place you are in at present. You might be on the grass feeling motionless, dissatisfied with your life, desiring to be in the place you were created for and holding your passion for something different. You know in your heart that this isn’t the place you are meant to stay, or this isn’t the work that you want to do for the rest of your life. You are created for a specific purpose apart from your daily works and job. Something inside of you makes you restless until you step into that purpose. Your feelings of dissatisfaction, the irresistible desires to do something different and the courage and faith you are building inside are the signs you are here to make a remarkable impact on this generation. Don’t let your feelings die within you.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

My encouragement to you is to unlock your inner feelings and desires to identify the treasure God has placed inside you when He created you. He wouldn’t have given you those feelings, potentials, personality and life experiences unless he planned to use them for His glory. Let your life get vibrant, enthusiastic, lively and thriving discovering your very purpose and the treasure inside you. Let your life’s treasure be used for His glory. I pray you discover it and live your life to its fullest.

 

 

To the imperfect person in me…

to the imperfect

It’s been quite a long time since I have written a blog post. I was busy with work and family but it’s not the actual reason I couldn’t blog. Whenever I opened my laptop to type, I struggled to find words. I stared at the laptop screen and it stared back at me. There wasn’t any message on my mind to write. I felt emptiness. I felt strange. And slowly a fear began to grip my heart… what if I can’t write a blog post anymore, what will people think about me? Will their trust be broken? Will the followers unfollow me? Will people ridicule me? Isn’t there any message God wants to put on my heart this time? So on…

My blog posts are birthed from my life experiences, daily life happenings, my devotion time and my insights on how I see things through the eyes of faith despite the struggles of life…and I always make sure I publish a blog post once in two weeks at least. During this season of my life, I felt God is telling me to slow down a bit, listen to Him, keep aside the perfection mask, be myself, and write the message not out of the obligation to write but out of the joy which He gives to my heart and a sound nugget of wisdom through His Word.

In the zest of blogging, I lost sight of the fact that it’s not about me but about Him (I confess). I am only a source of His message and when He nudges my heart with it, I am to share it with others. Many times, our desire to be known, accepted, and valued makes us forget the true meaning of our Calling. Instead of making Jesus our focus, we focus on our fame, our validation and our perfection. We strive hard to get things done in a perfect way, fearing the opinions of people, and trying to measure up with each effort. But the truth is, God doesn’t want us to be perfect, to be wrestling to give our best, to measure up with others or to safeguard our social status. He simply wants us to be ourselves, the imperfect, broken vessels, whom he can use for His glory.

In today’s world, every TV show, every commercial and film tells you that you are not enough. You’ve got to strive hard to come up to the measuring scale of this world. Your personality, your skin colour, your skills, your education, your clothing style, your standard of living have to match the existing trends and systems. We being so influenced by the world, often forget to understand that our true value and worth isn’t based on our performance or people’s opinion about us or the social image we cling to but it is based on what God says we are, how He sees us and wants us to be.

We only need to be genuine in the work He has entrusted to us. We need to do things His way. Our calling, our purpose, our gifts and potentials are all about Him. And He knows how to use them the best way possible. We only need to be obedient to Him, not striving for perfection and accomplishments but striving to see His will be done in and through our lives.

When I released myself from the perfection trap, it took the pressure off and I was able to write this message to you with a sense of freedom and joy inside. And all my fears turned into convictions knowing that He is faithful to complete the work He began in me. I regained the confidence that by His grace and strength alone I can do everything.

I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me [Who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]! Psalm 57:2

Can you remember a time when you thought you were doing what God wanted you to do, but it didn’t turn out the way you desired? Was your confidence shaken, not just in yourself, but in God too?

It’s easy to lose confidence when things aren’t working the way you thought. But let’s not our goal be perfection but realness.

If you struggle in the areas of your performance, trying to be perfect and precise in everything you do, fearing the opinions of people and striving hard to measure up, my encouragement to you today is just get yourself released from the perfection trap. Always remember that God accepts you the way you are. He wants to use your brokenness, realness, your flaws and your imperfections through which His power will be made perfect. Your imperfections will bring Him more glory than your perfection.

Linking with: https://blessedtransgressions.org/category/thankful-grateful-linkup

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Don’t pass by on the other side!

 

DJ8PBJWWAAA78fX.png largeToday I am sharing Devotion on Kelly Basham’s blog  Blossom in Faith as a part of Petals of wisdom devotional series.

Jesus tells a beautiful parable in Luke 10:25-37. It’s a story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and while on the way he is robbed of everything he had, including his clothing. He is beaten and left half dead alongside the road.

First, a priest comes by but he shows no love or compassion for the man and passes him on the other side of the road. Next, a Levite comes by and does exactly the same thing. He too passes by on the other side of the road without showing any mercy to the man. Finally, a Samaritan comes by and helps the injured man.

Please read the entire Devotion here: http://blossominfaith.com/2017/09/14/following-in-the-example-of-the-good-samaritan

Thank you!

Elizabeth Livingston

 

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A Legacy of God’s Faithfulness!

god's faithfullness

My Mom wrote an encouraging note on my diary when I first began my journey into mission work. The note is in Marathi which is my native language.

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Dear Rani (it’s my nickname)

My best wishes to you for the path you have chosen to serve God. The path you have chosen is God’s will for your life. He will be with you and will provide for you. Cast all your cares upon Him. God will be with you. You will be leaving me soon. I feel a little sad about it but I am so happy that you are going to serve God. I feel so proud to see my children in ministry. Don’t worry about me. Just keep me in your prayers. May God help you in everything you do.

Your Mom      

She also wrote a few Bible verses for me to meditate on and stay encouraged. Psalm 55:22, 121:7 & Isaiah 41:13

My mum is one of the best gifts of God to me. She is my encourager, inspiration, my role model and my friend. Her life, devoted to God’s work and His people, always amazes me. Her sacrificial service to her family, her loving relationships with others, her wisdom in dealing with family issues, her courage to face trials and overcome them with the help of God make me love and respect her more and more. Being raised in an orphanage, she has bestowed much love and care upon her children.

From 1999-2002 she continuously suffered with a kidney related ailment. For almost four years she has been in and out of hospital. She would get so sick that she needed to be taken to hospital in the ambulance. Our family went through a difficult period. Our school, studies and upbringing were all affected. I, as a 12 year old girl, would always fear her sudden death. I constantly stayed with her, taking care of her the best way I could because I didn’t want to lose my mom. Whenever I returned home from school, I dreaded seeing people gathered around my home because I feared that my mom had passed away. The fear of losing her, constantly hovered over my mind.

Being brought up in a Pastor’s family since childhood, I knew about Jesus and his miracles through stories, songs and skits taught in our Sunday school and church. But I never knew Jesus personally. One day I got the news that my mom was seriously sick and might not survive for long. She was admitted into hospital. That time I was alone at home and I wanted to pray for her life. I held her saree in my hand and started to pray for her. With tears rolling down my cheeks and a weight on my heart I said to Jesus, “I need my mom, please don’t take her away.” I sobbed saying only this one sentence as I didn’t know what else to pray as a 12 year old girl.

My mom’s health condition began to improve gradually. Doctors were astonished to see her speedy recovery. She was discharged from hospital in only a few days’ time. Slowly she regained her health. Her medical reports were coming back “normal”.

I only knew about Jesus, but now I could know Him, experience His love for me and my family, realise His faithfulness in my life and understand that He hears us when we call to Him.

Since 2002 till this day, she has enjoyed good health; no hospital stay, no major health issues, and she is the most energetic person in our family. She is the source of blessing and encouragement to everyone who meets her. Her smile, her talk and her life principles are impacting people around her. I thank God that she is still with me and has been a great support to me in all my ups and downs. She is the legacy of God’s faithfulness in my life.

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Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19

 

His Immeasurable Grace

Man feeling freedom on open sea

Recently I have come across a beautiful hymn written by Annie J. Flint.

She was born as Annie Johnson. Shortly after that was orphaned so she was raised by the Flint family and so became known to the world as Annie Johnson Flint. She suffered a lot in her life. She developed rheumatoid arthritis till she was twisted up in bed for many years. She had cancer inside her body. She was bedridden and lived with diapers. Then blindness started to overtake her. Before she died, from head to toe there were so many boils and marks on her body caused by constantly lying in bed that she needed many pillows to just cushion her body. She was a beautiful hymn writer and this is one of the most beautiful hymn she wrote.

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

No matter how hard your trials are whether they are physical or emotional, God will bestow His immeasurable Grace upon your life to get through them. He never leaves His children abandoned in their sufferings. He gives more grace when your burdens grow greater, He sends more strength when your labors increase. He adds His mercy to your added afflictions, He multiplies His peace to your multiplied trials. And the grace of God which sustains you becomes your testimony at the end of the day.

A few days back I was having a talk with my friend who is going through a situation similar to mine. Her 5-year-old daughter is suffering from Rett’s syndrome (a severe & rare neurological disorder and it’s a lifelong condition). She was sharing with me how challenging her life has become with each passing day. It breaks her heart to see her child suffer. It’s a very overwhelming experience for her as a young mother. But she has also shared how God is strengthening her to remain hopeful and joyful in the midst of her sufferings. She says, “it’s because of His grace alone that I am able to come this far believing and trusting Him to unfold His plans for my daughter’s life in His time”. I was so encouraged and blessed to know about her faith.

Indeed, God never leaves His children abandoned in the trials.

In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy, when I called to you for help. Psalm 31:22

We might think He has left us abandoned but He is always with us. In the midst of our sufferings, when we look to God for His strength, He helps us to get through those difficult cicumstances. When we rely on Him for emotional strength, we will have great courage to face our trials with boldness.

It’s because of His grace alone that we can stand firm in the midst of our trials and praise Him despite how we feel.

It’s because of His grace alone that we can hope for good and not for worse.

It’s because of His grace alone that we come to His throne with faith in our heart.

It’s because of His grace that we pray the same prayer again and again without getting tired of it.

It’s because of His grace that we can see God is at work and He is able to bring us through those hard days.

It’s because of His grace that in the midst of utter darkness we are able to see His light and hope to comfort us.

It’s because of His grace that we rise out of our ashes believing that He who promises is faithful.

If you ever find yourself in the valley of sorrows, rest assured that He is with you. He will strengthen you to get through all challenges no matter how hard they are. Remember, out of His infinite riches He is able to bestow His immeasurable grace upon your life. 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

 

He is faithful

He is faithful

“Are you pregnant yet?” this question might have pierced Sarah’s heart each month. The shame of barrenness was unbearable. God had promised her husband Abraham that he would be the father of nations with descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. After waiting for many years, Sarah convinced Abraham to sleep with her maidservant Hagar to produce an heir. That was an acceptable practice in ancient time. The child born of that encounter was named Ishmael.

Today I am sharing a Devotion on Blogs by Christian Women. Please click the link below to read the entire post.

https://blogsbychristianwomen.com/our-god-is-faithful-2/