Amma left us suddenly and unexpectedly. But her life was lived large.
We miss her much. Recently when we were down in Chennai at Peter and Yashmeet’s place, dear Amma came to mind again and again. Meeting Appa always brings Amma to mind. This home was the place where Amma went sleep one night, and woke up the next morning with the Lord. And in this home Amma still speaks even though she has left us for paradise.
It is possible to speak even after you have died. After we decided to shift Dad to palliation for his pancreatic cancer, he recorded a short message to be played at his upcoming funeral – both in Hindi and in English. We showed the Hindi version at Dad’s funeral on August 15th 3 years ago. It was quite powerful to hear Dad share what he always did – a message of hope and joy.
One of the ways Amma speaks to us today is through her cross-stitch pictures.
Amma loved to do things with her hands. Besides her amazing cooking, cross-stitching and knitting were ways that she expressed her love.
In Peter and Yashmeet’s home we found 4 of her cross-stitch pictures on display. Each is enriched with some key words from God’s revealed word as recorded in the Bible.
Join us as we take a small contemplative walk through the house, stopping at the different pictures which Amma lovingly made and which speak to us today. Do spend some time meditating on what the Lord is revealing to us His dearly loved children.
Our first picture is a cross-stitch is based on a picture that Wendy Binks gave to Asha at Asha’s dedication in Jharkhand, many years ago.
Whatever you do
In word or deed
Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col 3.17)
Our lives are short. Eternity is forever. We lived on a visited planet.
We have multiple choices about how we spend our time. How we spend our day to day activities.
Things that over time can become mundane and repetitive .
As well as the ‘big events’ that shine out. A career choice. A personal faith decision. A betrothal for a life together.
What do we do? And how do we do these things?
The verse Amma chose asks us to keep something very clearly in focus. Eternity matters and He who holds eternity in His hand matters most.
The ex-cricketer and fool-for-God CT Studd, speaking in a different generation had this to say:
Only one life, T’will soon be past
Only what’s done for Jesus will last
May the fragrance of Jesus pervade everything we do. May all our actions vibrate with His divine presence, power and love. May we be intentional and as loving children tremble with joy in His presence, acknowledging Him in all the steps – big and small – that we take on this pilgrim life of ours…
Our next picture from Amma’s loving hands looks out from a wall in the living room.
The message is straight forward.
A command and a promise.
Call to Jesus. Talk. Speak out. Don’t mumble and procrastinate. Our Lord yearns to hear from us His beloved children.
As a father, I want so much for Enoch to give me a call. We cannot call him at his boarding school, but he can use one of the phones in the dorm and call us. The problem is that his life is so full. We know that those small slivers of time before a meal, after a football practice are hard to translate into a call to Mum and Dad.
And then there is the super frustration of Enoch calling us – only for him to hear ‘this number is not available at the moment’ – ‘this number is outside the calling range, please try later.’ And then even greater frustration to have him ‘get through’ to us – and for us not to be able to hear him due to poor reception.
But when we do ‘get through’ – what a sweet delight to hear his voice.
How much more our heavenly Father yearns to hear us. Delights to listen to His beloved children.
Call to me. Not to another. I would be so sad if Enoch spent his precious conversations talking to someone else. Let’s speak directly to Jesus. Let’s not waste any time in haphazard shots-in-the-dark when He has appeared to us and directly tells us “ask, seek, find…” “Come to me, all you who are weak and heavy-laden, I will give you rest.”
And then there is the wonderful promise.
I will answer.
I and not another. Not some chat-bot powered by AI. Not some underling out-sourced for the task. But YHWH Himself. The great I AM. The everlasting Father.
How can the God of Gods speak to us? How can we hear His voice? How can the effable partake of the ineffable?
And that too, the Lord says that He hears the weak and broken hearted. We don’t need to perform to gain an audience with Him. He does not count our merits when He decides to answer our call.
Do we actually believe this? Are our lives revelation-driven? Or are we more-or-less practical atheists (or perhaps ‘clock-work-universalists’) running our lives on our own, acting as if there is no one who is above us – or as if God has set everything up and gone away on a looooong vacation?
I will answer. That’s what He says. It’s for us to live this truth out in the hustle and bustle of our days.
Thank you Amma for reminding us of this truth.
The third picture is currently hanging in Appa’s room. It is one of a series of pictures Amma made for each of her grand-children. We have one with a different verse for Asha and Enoch which has hung in our home reminding us of Amma’s love.
The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. Ps. 145.9
How much we need to be reminded of this truth every day.
We seem awash in a sea of corruption and shamelessness. Politicians who claim to be cleaning out the Aegean stables do so by blatantly purchasing others. The cruelty of humanity makes its way into our newspapers with almost metronomical regularity. I don’t even want to write the words here…
Can it be true in this broken world, that the Lord is really good to all, and that His tender mercies are over all His works?
Our sin-stained eyes, our bruised souls, our inflamed relationships can give us what literally is a jaundiced look at the world. There is real evil, but it is not from the Lord – who is only good. We must keep reminding ourselves of this truth. And the very horror we feel at the rot around us points to something beyond the decay that can assail us on all sides.
The word that the Word uses is “mercy.” That’s an interesting choice.
Mercy is given when punishment is deserved, but when an exception, a pardon is given in its place.
It’s a hard word to use when real abuse has taken place, when the perpetrator is still on the loose.
But God’s mercy is a different dimension. Not only does He give mercy, he also takes the punishment. His mercy is not callous and random – it has been paid for in full – by the mercy-Giver Himself.
And so we need to be reminded that His tender mercies are indeed over all His works.
Starting with me. Starting today.
And so we come finally to the last message of Amma for us.
This cross-stitch is framed and hangs in Appa’s room, above his bed. I have in my mind’s eye the image of Appa taking his afternoon nap on a hot Chennai day, with this picture serenely in the back-ground.
And even to your old age, I am He, and even to grey hairs will I carry you,
I have made, and I will bear, even I will carry, and will deliver you. (Isaiah 46.3)
None of us are growing younger.
Appa has completed 81 years on this planet. Oma turns 82 in November. Sheba and I have racked up a century of years between us this year.
God, our Maker, and our Sustainer, has words of comfort for us as the years progress.
First of all we have a hope of growing old. At Indian independence, the average life-expectancy at birth was only 47 years. Most people died well before they became 50 (many of course in infancy and childhood). But today that has grown to about 68 years. Today our population is greying and many are spending years alone and neglected.
As we look at the next two decades, we realise that we will be reaching the age that Amma died at.
But this is what the Lord says to us. He has made us. He will carry us. Sheba and I have a number of grey hairs. And on my head the hereditary baldness of my mother’s Fischer forebears is readily seen. But the promise is the He will carry us. We think of the shepherd carrying the new born lamb. But we also have the image of the shepherd carrying the old and weak sheep.
He who made us, who fashioned us so miraculously (take alook at this talk). He will sustain us. He will hold us together physically when things seem to be falling apart. Hold us to each other as we grow old in tandem. Hold us to Himself when we feel lonely and afraid. Hold our hands, especially on that day if and when our mind begins to play tricks. A possible and plausible day when we are not fully in control of our selves. When our understanding becomes muddled and confused as we have seen in so many of our dear ones.
He will hold us. He will carry us. He will deliver us.
What a set of promises. What a Lord. The Ancient of days whose mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.
And so we have come to the end of our small tour of Amma’s words – which have of course been the words of her lovely Lord.