Another sermon from my father-in-law Philip John, at Ashraya Church
in South India
. This one is particularly touching as it includes his perspective on Sandhya’s marriage…
CAN I BE GOD? Sounds like a ridiculous question!
Look at the Universe — astronomers have so far estimated that there are over 60 billion galaxies in the Universe. (1 billion is a 1000 million!!)
Galaxies with their own sun and moon and planets, all revolving in their own orbits and keeping their places without collision – GOD is the Creator of them all! That is why when I see people worshipping and the sun and the moon I ask myself — wouldn’t it be better to worship the one who created them!
So from that perspective the CAN I BE GOD? question really is a ridiculous one and the answer to that is an emphatic NO and I can sit down.
But actually the answer is YES! When I began to understand how and why God created us I realized that it is YES because we often take God’s place.
1. The Bible clearly says that GOD created man in HIS own image.
God is Spirit. Unlike any other creature man is born with a spirit. In other words, after we die we do not cease to exist. Like GOD we live forever!
2. GOD created Man with a WILL of his own. Man is free to make choices that benefit him but this means he can also make choices that can cause harm. Man’s choices always affect other people.
Let me try and give you a couple of scenarios:
Think of people who exploit the poor and turn them into a life of crime. Often prostitutes have confessed that they were abused as children and lost their sense of value and worth. This turned them over to a life of degradation.
The horrendous story of the Noida killings is still fresh in our minds. Moninder Pandher grew up in a well to do household, went to some of the best schools and colleges but ended up getting rid of his wife and killing young, innocent children after sexually assaulting them. He made these choices in his life but look at the trail of pain and havoc that he left in the wake? Would the lives of the parents, whose children were brutally assaulted and killed, ever be the same again? He made choices — wrong ones and devastated and destroyed the lives of many.
Many marriages break up because one of the 2 (most of the time the man) has not been faithful. Quite often they bring home the HIV virus and infect their wives and children born of their intercourse. These children are born HIV positive – affected at childbirth.
I have personally met an 11 years old girl who is mentally and physically below normal. She lived in a slum and an HIV positive man raped her and passing on the deadly virus. This girl and many other innocent people like her will die because of selfish choices someone made.
Think of people who lure young children to use drugs so that they can sell the drugs for money. Most of the time they want the money so that they could pay for the drugs. But the children get hooked and they in turn affect the lives of their near and dear ones and even start preying on innocent children to perpetuate this life choice.
These are all the results of wrong choices. I have only talked about a very limited type and number of actions people take that not only affect their own lives but also others. Each of these choices was made due to selfish reasons. We don’t need to do such horrendous things to harm another person’s interest. When we make choices that are selfish we affect the lives of others. Take a minute to review last week — did you do or say anything that caused some harm or pain to someone else?
You see this happens because we take the place of God. We take decisions or make choices based on what we like or want. In our universe we are on the throne. We are vaguely aware that God is somewhere out there but we don’t trust Him enough to ask for His advice. Just in case he says something that you don’t want to do!
Actually I know from my own life that man will make wrong choices — by his or her very nature. We don’t have to teach a young child to tell a lie, have a bout of jealousy or anger. It’s all there — packaged in that sweet looking little Annie!
But I have good news for you today. You don’t have to be a captive of your past or continue to be enslaved by habits that invariably harm the interest of others particularly your loved ones. God has your number and has constantly been dialing and eagerly waiting for you to respond to His call. Yes, that is right, this great God the creator of the Universe is constantly trying to get your attention because He wants to save you from the after-effects of all the terrible choices you have made and are still making!
To illustrate what I mean let me tell you a couple of stories.
I want to tell you about 2 major crises in my life. I grew up the lord of all that I surveyed, the master of my own destiny, very self-assured with a plan for my life — to be rich and famous by whatever means. Then the first major crisis hit me like the Tsunami. In 1983 I quit my job as MD of a Tea company because of a hare brained idea to strike it BIG in the tourism and hotel industry. But everything I did turned sour.
Suddenly it dawned on me that I had no job, all my resources were eaten up and without money or backing chances of ever starting this project melted away. That was when I threw up my hands and said — LORD if you are out there — HELP! The heavens did not suddenly open and God did not pour out a huge sum of money into my lap but he gave me the wisdom to handle what little I had. Whenever we needed some money urgently miraculously an income tax refund would turn up or long forgotten share certificates would be found – help would come from unexpected quarters. There were times when we would be reminded that Premela’s ornaments sitting in a bank vault could be put to better use like putting food on the table and paying the children’s fees!
I became acutely aware of the existence of a GOD but found it difficult to understand His interest in my tiny life. I mean why should the Creator of the Universe really be bothered with ME? That was when I got the best piece of advice in my life.Don’t try to understand God with your head but receive Him in your heart?. I had no choice but to yield but as I did that I understood that there was a God who knew my number — one who was intimately interested in my life and welfare. I became acutely aware that I had given Him virtually no place in my life.
An aunt encouraged me to know this God for myself. She suggested that I begin to read the Bible in simple faith. And as I did this I began to understand the extent of God’s love for me. I learned that He sent His Son to earth in the form of man to die for me and pay the price for my self-centered ways. He did this because He wanted me to be reconciled into a relationship with Him. I knew I had to put God on the throne of my life. After all He was my Creator — there was nothing about me He did not know.
My understanding of God increased as time went by. My universe changed. I started a new Tea company and prospered, had a high position in society, had a leadership role in Church – great kids who were very successful in their own right. That is when the next Tsunami hit — this one with 100 times more intensity!
The Tea business took a down turn. The company I had painstakingly built began to make losses. The tea producers who had borrowed large sums of money from us could not / did not pay back and the company could not survive. I had no option but to close it down. Since I did not wish to leave huge debts to the bank and others I sold our house and paid off most of the debts. Legally, I need not have done that but morally I felt I had to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”… I knew I had to make the right choices.
This was a huge crisis — my family was severely affected by it. I went into a state of depression. But I remembered the lessons learned from my earlier crisis — that God was sovereign over every situation. All I had to do was to acknowledge Him and keep Him on the throne of my life. I realised that little by little I had put myself back on the throne in several areas of my life. I asked God to forgive me for not trusting Him and asked Him to be the Lord of my life again.
And sure enough God brought me to Chennai. I got the wonderful opportunity to live close to my elderly father and spend time with him each day.
Next, God put me in a wonderful church — Ashraya. This church has been the source of much blessing to us.
And the miraculously, I got an offer to head a website design company. God took me out of a dead Tea industry and placed me in the fastest growing industry on earth today. The IT industry!
Let me close with one last story.
I wanted to marry off my daughter Sandhya when she was in her early 20?s. Parents get nervous the moment their daughter turns 21 and from then with the passing of each year the anxiety increases. We knew that God had a plan for our daughter but as the years rolled by we became less sure whether God was hearing our prayer. We began to entertain proposals that did not look right but since the clock was ticking away, we wondered whether we should make some exceptions. Fortunately our daughter was very clear that she should only marry a God fearing man whatever his nationality, or background.
Sandhya turned 28 and still there was no husband in sight. My wife and I sighed in a resigned sort of way when suddenly an Indian family from the US was visiting Chennai to attend a relative’s wedding. There was young man named Ernie accompanying his parents. Ernie met Sandhya and we met his parents. We couldn’t believe how perfect this match was. We thank God each day for Ernie our son in law!
I am reminded of a verse from the Bible found in the book written by a prophet named Isaiah. He acknowledges that God is indeed the Potter and that we are the clay. I am the Potter. When we let God have His rightful place in our life we have nothing to fear. He will never give us second best!
God is my Creator He knows what was best for me! Do you think it is time to put God in His rightful place in your life – and be part of His plan? I have plans for you; plans to prosper, not to harm.
Today my cup is full, what more can I ask for? I give Him first place and feel assured that I really do not have to worry. I am assured that GOD knows my number — and when I stray he just hits the REDIAL button!
That is my prayer for you. That you would ask Him to take His rightful place on the throne of your heart!