Yeshwanth Bakkavemana

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Finding Self! Journey from Desperation to Inspiration

This write up is a reflection of my 33 years of life that lived so far. I am inspired to write this as my own struggle to navigate through my desperation inspired me to do so. I am not going to give you ready-made answers how to get out of your own desperation. However, I can say that there is a way to navigate through the troubled waters in our lives. That is Finding yourself! Finding who you are, your passions, and your purpose.

I come from a state where children when they were born are destined either to become an engineer or a doctor. It is blasphemous to say that I am interested in Arts. In such a context your wings were cut off to dream. As my peers, I have studied Engineering which I never loved. I did have a choice to listen to my inner voice, but I suppressed it. I went on to do my Engineering. It is like as Steve Job once said that many people do not succeed in life because they did not love what they are doing and when you love what you are doing, you’d persevere. The same goes with me. I never liked what I was doing.  I always felt a void in me. I did not know who I am, what is my passion and my purpose in life. I was lost. My circumstances did not help me. I was like a ‘lone ranger’ trying to find myself.

One of the things we often fail to do is to listen to our inner voice. Some call it ‘intuition,’ ‘subconsciousness,’ and so on. However, I would call it the Paraclete (Greek word which means “helper”)-the divine voice. This divine voice was always pursuing me. This voice is like the “Hound of Heaven” as Francis Thompson wrote. Thompson brings an analogy between the Hound that is pursuing an hare and the divine grace that pursues the sinner. So I felt the same way. Finally this divine voice was so loud in me that I had to listen to it. It is then I was marveled at the way God found me. So in the grace of God, I have found myself. I am fearfully made, very intricately and dexterously for a specific purpose that I needed to realize. So, in that starry night, when my desperation was so extreme the Hound got me! The divine voice made its way to my mind, heart, and inspired my hands.

The story did not end here. I found myself. I found my passion. When I was able to feed my passion, I realized how I can be useful to others. That’s my purpose. I started to pursue my passion. Started to feed it. I loved it! Started to make wings to fly my dreams. Still I am. The challenge is to keep your passion alive. Circumstances may come, desperate situations may hurdle your dreams but if you listen to the Paraclete, love your passion, you will have strength to persevere. Perseverance and endurance are keys to success. When we persevere towards what we love, success is inevitable.

I hope this short write up may help you those who are going through desperation but if you listen to the inner-voice, you will find your passion. Feed it. Nurture it. Strengthen it. We do not have enough time, we have only one life. However, we can live thousand lives in one! Find yourself! We can leave behind a glorious legacy for other to find themselves!

 

CHRIST MAGNIFIED

I. INTRODUCTION

In a fast paced world running in a direction of no destiny and purpose, where technology has become a final lap at every turn; it is an imperative for us as Christians to ask, “Who is our God?” Our belief of God is very subjective. It is subjective to our Cultural and personal prejudices. We almost forget the fact that God is beyond our mental capacities to comprehend but at the same time he is very much comprehensible because he has revealed us his character, glory and passion in the life and the person of Jesus Christ. It is preposterous to “cage” God into our own griddle of cultural prejudices, dethroning God to the level that best suits our thoughts and motifs and labeling this “caged God” to be the ultimate. How unscrupulous behavior we are harboring in our sin-stricken hearts? We give more importance to our culture, community and identity but the fact of the reality is God created “man and woman.” Culture, community and identity add aesthetic value which was fashioned by God to give man a unique visage and identity. How do we magnify Christ if we are harboring this kind of attitude in our words and deeds? In order to magnify Christ in our lives we need to be conscious of our own sin and respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, thereby putting ourselves in the process of “continual consecration.” Consecration is not the end but it is accompanied by service. This service is our purpose. Through this service we can project Christ in us to the people around us. Let us see some of the attitudes that every Christian should have in order to magnify Christ.

  1. Spirituality

We all have our own definition of spirituality. Attending to a church is no longer an act of obligation and longing for God but it has become mere “habitual” habit. It is unspoken feeling of many that God is confined to the four walls of the Church and he has got nothing to do with our attitude outside the Church. Keeping this in mind let us attempt to understand “Spirituality.” John 15: 4 says, Abide in me as I abide in you. Spirituality is our relationship with God. It is a communion with God. We can sense the meaning and purpose of our existence in reference to God. This is not an absorption into the divine as Hindu Spirituality views. It is an ethical relationship with the Divine which is a true Christian Spirituality. Let me explain this more vividly. Mystical type of Christianity is only centered on the religious experience but the ethical type of Christianity is living rightly which is the outcome of the personal relationship with Christ. This is what exactly it means by the phrase “Abide in me as I abide in you.” John 15: 4. David Boyd in his book “Indian Christian Theology” says that “Abide in me” is the “chief end of man.” Mother Terresa was invited to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast held on Feb 3rd, 1994 at the White House, United States. All the participants who were assigned to speak were given strict instructions as of not to speak anything controversial. There were many heavy hitters like Algore and his family alongside the President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton. However, Mother did not get that notice. Particularly on that day she spoke against ‘abortion.’ In her speech, there were many issues which are in disagreement with Clinton’s view on abortion. One of the reporters asked him to comment on her and here is what he said, “How can anyone argue with a life so well-lived?”

Her life speaks about how she translated her spirituality to transform the society. It is only because she “abides” with Christ and Christ “abides” in her. We can see the fruits of her spiritual life. Therefore, our spirituality should be grounded in God and thereby transforming the society around us. Only then can we say that we have magnified Christ in and through our lives.

 

  1. Being conscious of “Continual consecration.”

King David in Ps. 51:7 says, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The verbs in this verse purge, clean and wash point out to the continual process of consecration. The point to be noted here is that these words are often used for the sacrificial offerings for the atonement of the sins. The word ‘purge’ means to get rid of, to pluck out, and to purify and so on. It also refers to the process of conviction by the Holy Spirit. After our response to this process, the taking away of the guilt takes place which is ‘cleaning.’ After which abiding presence of the Holy Spirit is realized and assured. This is what it means when Psalmist says, “… I shall be whiter than snow.”

  1. Being conscious of “creative act” of God in us.

We are not only to be conscious of the “continual consecration” but we should be conscious of God’s “continual act of creation” in us. Ps. 51: 10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” The Hebrew word “ בּרא ” is used for the word “create.” This is the same word used in Genesis 1 (the creation account). The word connotes the meaning of “initiation of something new out of nothing.” This is where the theological construct “creatio ex nihilio” (creation out of nothing) has been conceptualized. Psalmist goes through this same creation experience in which his old self has become obsolete and transformed into a new self. This is the outcome of the process of consecration. To paraphrase the above verse, a clean heart is created by God and a renewed or steadfast spirit is planted or established within the being of the Psalmist. It is on the basis God’s act of consecration and creation in our lives, we are enabled to magnify Christ in and through our lives.

Conclusion:

Our spirituality, consecration and renewal experience are by no means our ends. These should be translated into our personal and corporate lives. We are called to be “salt and Light” of this world. Where ever we are stationed, we should be able to project Christ in and through our lives so that Christ is magnified. Christ should be magnified behind four walls of your room, in your relationships, in your courtship, at home, at your work place and at the Church. You can part take in missions from where you are standing. The reason is that the most unreached people are those who are within your reach. Your colleague at work place, you neighbor, your classmate and so on that may be in need of God’s love and care. You are a channel for God to work his wonders in the lives of the people. It is a great elation for us to see Christ magnified among the people around by our words and deeds. Let us “MAGNIFY CHRIST.” To see “Christ Magnified” is our ultimate and purpose and destiny.

 

SHALOM.

 

I, Me and God: Struggle to know who you are

imagesIntroduction:

How many of you believe that you have been called by God? Each one of us were called to accomplish His great commission in different capacities and in different ways. You may be a high school student or a college student, but you have a unique role to play. As a matter of fact we all are partners in God’s great commission. Before going further I just want to ask few questions which deals with I (you), Me (yourself) and God.

1. Who am I? My identity

2. What am I supposed to do? My Vision/ purpose

3. How am I supposed to do? My Mission

4. What is my destiny? The ultimate goal of my life.

The questions that I just raised are not philosophical questions as they seem to be but they are theological questions. Some of you may not agree with me. Had I been here some 10 years before, I would have not agreed because I never had this concept of the “existence of God.” The sad part is we never pause for a moment to think about our lives, and its purpose and our destiny. We all are trapped in this rat race of commercialism. God-talk is too good for us to talk. For some its boring and for others it’s just not there in their thoughts. I tell you my friends, my identity, my purpose, my mission and my destiny- everything springs out from my faith in God. Apart from Him, there is nothing that is there. Let us discuss these theological questions and learn from the answers from each other.

1. Who Am I? My Identity.

When people ask my name I would respond with my name tagged with my surname. It is, if and only if someone asks. If you ask yourself how will you respond? Ask yourself who are you? Will you respond by saying your name along with your surname? My identity and your identity is not in our names nor it is in our surnames, or in my Caste, color or my nationality. Our identity depends upon the Image in whom we were created. Image of God is our identity. That means I belong to God first and in that belongingness I draw my identity. In other words the image of God on me is relational. It is only in ‘I-Thou’ relationship I can comprehend my complete identity not as what I am called by the people but as the Child of God.

The other aspect of my identity is that I am a human being. God just did not create Yeshwanth B. V. He created man and woman in his image. He created humankind (Gen. 1: 27). God never had distinctions in his mind when he created humankind. However, we marred that image by discriminating others identity. We developed a Pseudo-identity saying that we are better than others- our language is better than others, our people, our culture and our land are better than others. Just imagine if God had this same kind of attitude he would have not come down to save us. If God doesn’t have any distinctions, then how dare we discriminate others there by marring the image of God?

The other aspect is “Loving God.” In Matt. 22: 37-40. The first commandment is “loving God with all you got” and then loving your neighbor. You can love your neighbor if and only if you love God. You love God if and only if you realize in whose image you are made. When you find your identity in God then only you will be able to acknowledge God’s image on others irrespective of who they are and what they are but as a Child of God as you are. This attitude will give a complete meaning to the question who am I?

2. What Am I supposed to do? My purpose/ Vision

Once you were established in relationship with God, the other task is to know his will in your life i.e., His purpose in your life. This is a difficult task. It has been a difficult task for me. When people ask what you want to become you would respond by saying I would like to become an engineer, doctor, a Govt. official so on and so forth. My question is what you want achieve by becoming one of those? You want to become rich, earn lot of money, then what? Get married and have a married life and then what? Live long enough to see your grandchildren and then what? You see life has no significant meaning if it is not touching other lives around you. You become someone not for your sake but for the betterment of the society. If you are a student work hard and try to work and aim for the betterment of the society. How do you know what you’re supposed to do? It is by your conversations with God.

Converse with God daily. He will let you know. I will give you two examples of greatest conversations that changed the lives of Israelites. The first one is God’s conversation with Moses. In Exodus 3, as God conversed with Moses, he got to know what he was supposed to do. He led the people of Israel from the bondage to liberty. The other one was God’s conversation with Samuel. In 1 Sam. 3, God conversed with Samuel and Samuel judged the people of Israel and led them from spiritual apostasy to spiritual upliftment. Not only that, he has been an instrumental figure in the establishment of Israel as a Kingdom.

Your conversations with God will depend on how intimate you are with God. It depends on how sensitive you are to the voice of God who speaks through his Holy Scriptures. However, in this pursuit you may lose many things which are dear to you. My dear friends, every little thing that you lose is only a glimpse of greater things to come when you set your eyes on the Cross. Dream big, aim high and strive to achieve it. Your success should become a transforming power in the people’s lives.

3. How am I supposed to do? My Mission         

I know my identity as a Child of God and also I got to know what am I supposed to do? The question that is ahead of us is how am I supposed to do? When you are intimate with God and sensitive to his voice, it gives rise to wisdom in you. Proverbs 1: 7 says that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Fear of the Lord doesn’t mean that you don’t have to tremble before God nor to be scared of Him. It (Fear of the Lord) deals with ethical and moral aspect in how you do things. Whatever you do, you have to show high standards of morality and ethics. May be it is just a slip test back at school, a board examinations, at your office and in your relationships with your colleagues and especially with the opposite sex- you have to witness God’s presence wherever you are by setting up high standards of ethics and morals. This is possible if and only if you fear God.

There is a difference between knowledge and Wisdom. My knowledge about a knife tells me to use this either for destructive purpose or for the productive purpose. It is only through the wisdom of God, I will use it for the productive purposes. Therefore, the fear of God gives rise to wisdom which is the foundation of my morality and ethics. This attitude should reflect when you are alone behind closed doors, when your writing your examinations, when you are applying for different jobs, when your watching movies, using internet, in sports- in all the possible areas we were called to fear God in order to have wisdom to do things in a right way to accomplish God’s vision to which I am called to fulfill.

4. What is my destiny? My ultimate goal of my life.

(I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection) Phil. 3: 9

My realization of my identity as the Child of God, and the realization God’s purpose for my life and the wisdom to accomplish will make me “Christ-like” more and more everyday. My ultimate goal then is to become like Christ by displaying His simplicity, His integrity and His humility there by becoming a “transforming agent” in the society. In this world which was darkened with sin, we were called to be the “light and salt of the world” as we hear Our Lord’s words in Matt. 5: 13-14. If you ask me what my ultimate goal for my life is, I would join St. Paul by saying, “for to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” Phil. 1: 21.

My life should not just be confined to the betterment of the self but the power of Christ should flow through us into others. My life will have significance and meaning if it builds somebody’s life. We can achieve this only when we start imitating Chirst in every way. We called to fulfill our destiny in imitating Christ as Paul as urged in 1 Cor. 11: 1.

A word of caution to all of us here:

Bible says in Eccl. 11: 9:

Rejoice, Young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.”

Enjoy what you are doing, be happy and explore your life but enjoy your life in legitimate ways. Be accountable to God and to someone with whom you can share. Be sensitive to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit when he is convicting you.

Conclusion:

I just want to conclude by drawing your attention this particular man. He was born without limbs which is a rare disorder, rejected admission in the Law school, ridiculed by his fellow students, contemplated suicide…but through all this he discovered his identity in God as a man made in the image of God, and found purpose for his life and he is now inspiring millions by proclaiming God’s faithfulness in his life. The man is none other than Nick Vujicic.

My dear friends, here is a man who without limbs dedicated his life with all he has and inspiring and touching millions with his life. He has a story to tell. What about you? Do you have a story to tell this world?

My exhortation or encouragement for you is that strive for excellence in your life. Project a strong witness of God’s faithfulness and love wherever you are placed. Lead at least one soul to Christ in your life time. Always remember who you are, your vision, your purpose and your ultimate goal. Difficulties and obstacles may come in but hold onto your faith in Christ. I just want to close with this quotation by James Dobson who said, “What matters is our faith when God doesn’t make sense.”

May the Lord God of Hosts, may reveal himself to you, inspire you and use you as a mighty instrument.

Amen.

Divine-Joke

Sometimes I feel life is a divine joke. God leads you to the red sea and then makes you to wonder how you would cross it. By the time, we lose hope, He parts the waters so that we can walk of the dry ground. Sometimes, He finds us in fiery furnace. Sometimes, in a lion’s den. What never changes is His presence in the face of calamity. He just wants us to stand in awe of Him and see how he delivers. Right now, I being still and I know He is Lord God in even though waters are not parted.