Personal Ramblings, Reading Life Between the Lines

lessons from thatha

On the shores of the Arabian Sea, the little village sits, tucked at India’s side.  To the north of the common well live the fishermen, to the south the weavers.  Thatha* lived on the south side, on Weavers’ Street. Neither a fisherman nor a weaver, he technically didn’t belong.

He lived there though, for more than 40 years, until he died at the age of 82. Listening to the annoying, monotonous clackety clak of the looms, smelling  the pungent odor of yarn marinating in starch turned sour. Why did he choose to live where he didn’t belong?  An aspiration, that’s why. An aspiration to share his HOPE in Jesus with the fishermen and the weavers.

Thatha was a pastor. A very effective pastor: His churches thrived. The baptisms were many. But more than bringing in new members into his church, Thatha yearned to bring his neighbors to Jesus. And so he lived a hot, dusty, bumpety, hour-long bus ride away from the churches he pastored, away from the luxury of plumbing and electricity.

40 years and more, Thatha awakened every morning at five o’clock, opened his windows wide and sang.  Totally out of tune, he would sing hymns of hope, of God’s love, of Jesus’ soon coming. And then he’d kneel by the open window and pray aloud for the drunken neighbor who mercilessly beat his beautiful wife the night before, for the money lender who charged an exorbitant interest rate to the young widow, for the young boy trying so hard to get through high school, for the fishermen who had a bad night at sea . . . . All day long, he would help, share, counsel. He chose to reflect Jesus and speak of hope to those not just in his village but also in the villages around and in-between. Thatha even built a chapel that shared a wall with his  home– a wall and the same blue trim on the doors and windows. He held prayer meetings and vespers, Sabbath School and divine service. Always with the doors wide open. Sometimes he would have a visitor or two. Most often, there were none.

You’d think that in 40 years he would have established a solid congregation in his chapel. No! All he had to show for 40 years of exemplary Christian living was one baptism. That too, not in his village, but in another far away. All in vain? A life of disappointment and discouragement? On the contrary, his was a life of hope.

Thatha died in his bed, by the open window, content. And outside that open window, stood fishermen and weavers–two, three, and four generations of them. They came to say goodbye to the man they loved.

20 years and more later, they still speak of the man who prayed, who encouraged, who loved–while asking nothing in return. And in the other village, where the lone man was baptized, are many, many more Seventh-day Adventists.

Sometimes I wish Thatha had lived to see his aspiration take on wings. But the fact that he didn’t says so much more. His life was like a clear spring in a forest. A spring that gives and gives of itself, enriching some, quenching the thirst of others. A spring that doesn’t dry up just to measure how much it is needed.

From Thatha I’ve learnt not to ask why, not to tally my little victories. From Thatha, I’ve learnt to rejoice that God wants me for who I am, to share Him and His love just by being His child–always. I’ve learnt that sharing the Hope of Jesus is my responsibility. But more importantly, I’ve learnt that

1.  I don’t need to see the difference I make. It is not my glory but His.

2.  I don’t need to wait for the right occasion. Every moment I breath is an opportunity.

3.  I don’t need to possess special gifts. I have all it takes. I am, after all, His child


Feature image by Tejj on Unsplash


a study on hope

Key Text: 1 Peter 3:15


1. Know: Though we live in a sin-wrought world, we have hope of eternal life in Jesus

2. Feel: Assurance through fulfilled prophecy that God has a plan for us.

3. Do: Live a life of hope, focusing on the promise of eternity.

Lesson Outline:

I. Origin of Hope (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

A. The basis of hope is in the resurrection of Jesus. What does Paul mean when he says “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (v.19) ?

B. The promise of eternal life gives us reason to hope. What other elements of Christianity give us hope in an otherwise hopeless world?

II. Affirming Hope (Luke 21:25-28)

A. The gift of prophecy shows us that God has a plan in the seeming madness of the world. From this we have hope. How has God shown you His wisdom and understanding? B. Our hope in eternal life is based in the future. How can we feel a real hope for our present lives now on earth?

III. Embodying Hope (Psalms 31:24)

A. Live your hope focused on the promise of eternity. Let your hope be seen in your attitude. How can you make your hope shine in the way you live?


The hope we have in Christ is an integral element of the Christian faith. Without it we are miserable. Let your hope truly affect your outlook on life.

Previously Published, Spiritual Musings

hope, the great motivator (collegiate quarterly, 2002)

Imagine that you’ve just walked seven miles of rocky terrain. It’s been a long, tedious journey and you’re glad to be home—a cool shower, a home-cooked meal and a soft bed await you. But before you can kick off your dusty shoes, you discover that you have to hike back the seven miles! How would you feel? What would motivate you to gladly trek the road you just traveled?

One of the greatest short stories about hope is found in Luke 24 and in set in a similar circumstances. The setting: A westbound road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The time: The end of the day, towards sunset. The characters: Two men and a stranger. The story: a simple, yet profound, chain of events. From this familiar story, there are lessons to be learned.

1.     Walk into the sunrise, not the sunset (Luke 24:13-17). Having just witnessed the crucifixion of the “prophet” who they hoped would deliver them from Roman bondage, these grief-stricken men are returning home without hope. Jesus meets them on the road, but they do not recognize Him. Why? Probably because the dazzle of the setting sun (Emmaus was west of Jerusalem) blurred their vision. Had they had the sunset behind them, perhaps they might have recognized Jesus. It is only with hope that you can move towards the sunrise, towards a new day. The Christian does not look back into the past, into the sunsets; The Christian looks to the future, to the dawn of each new day. The difference? Hope!

2.     Make sense of the confusion (Luke 24:25-27). The story begins with faces “twisted with grief,” but ends with hearts “burning” with good news. Jesus walks the long rocky terrain with them—He provokes their thinking, explains their questionings, clears up their doubts. Despite His shortage of time, Jesus walks with them, eats with them, stays with them. Jesus is there for us for as long as it takes to makes sense of the confusion around us. Because of Jesus’ company on the journey home, the men discovered the sequel to the mysterious weekend they had experienced in Jerusalem. The sequel was the fulfillment of prophecy, the fulfillment of the hope of the Messiah.

3. Share the joy. What motivated the men to hike back to Jerusalem? The discovery of hope! When they discovered that their traveling companion was the same Jesus who was crucified, they forgot about their tired feet, about the fact that it was too late in the day to travel back to Jerusalem, about the wasted time. Without hope, you experience the lethargy of depression. With hope, you are energized with a desire to share the joy with others.

Sharing hope creates a bond of fellowship. It is like the birth of true friendship. You can be casual friends with many, but when you share an experience and create a memory with someone, you are bonded for life. Hope is a great motivator. It can help you do things you would not otherwise do. It was hope that made the two men travel back to Jerusalem. What parts of you life would you like hope to take you back to? Consider two things you would like to see happen in your personal life and in the world church. How can hope help these things happen?