THE TREE OF LIFE

April 19, 1992 – Easter Sunday.

That’s the day i heard the gospel preached in a way that compelled me to consciously give my heart to the Lord. I had given my life to Jesus many times before – after all, i was born into a Born Again Home and it therefore followed that we were all introduced to Christ pretty early (there’s Christian and then there’s Born Again; ours was the latter). However, on that morning, i made a conscious decision being fully aware of its implications, and it was with such a finality that i never looked back.

Over the years, the date came and went without pause or much reflection – in fact, it never stood out for me. However, something makes this year different. As i thought about it, I realized that this easter season marks exactly 3 decades since that glorious morning. Wow. 30 glorious years of walking with the Lord. I can tell you, it’s not been easy – this journey has had as many ups as downs, as many highs as there have been lows and in some seasons, more tears than laughter. Looking back, I can honestly say that it has been purely the grace of God. I cannot boast today of having been the strongest of the bunch, or the one who prayed the longest, or even memorized the most portions of scripture. I would also be lying if I claimed to be the purest, holiest, truest Christian throughout my years in high school, college and later, as a working citizen. You see, in these 30 years, i have had “Elijah moments” of serious self (and God) doubt and i contemplated abandoning it all; “Job moments” where i questioned God and expressed my disappointment in what i assumed was His total abandonment of me; “Moses and Joshua moments” where i saw Him fight my battles; and “Psalms 51 moments” – against you and you only have i sinned; and “Miriam moments” – all praise and honor to you Lord. In each one of these seasons, i can tell you one thing – I know that He was present in each moment.

One of my favorite hymns is “The Old Rugged Cross”. I learnt it as i went into high school, you know, those turbulent yet deeply defining 4 years. I clung to it through college – 5 years in a foreign far place where the world took many different shapes and forms, yet i found new meaning in the depth and truth of its words. And, as i entered the job market, it stood as a reminder that regardless of how choppy the waters of legal practice, i was safe as long as i clung to that old rugged cross.

The last 10 years have been, by all standards, the most defining for me. Like many of you, I have transitioned from one season to another as I settled into the different phases of life. Its been a wonderful, scary yet defining 10 years. But through it all, i found grace to cherish the cross. Yesterday as we celebrated resurrection Sunday the memories flooded my heart – it all came back to me. I reflected on the treasure that i have found at the foot of that cross; the splinters that many times have cut into my own back and hands as i chose to follow Christ over and over again; the tears that i shed many times as i wondered where God had gone off to and the many many times i was assured of His lasting presence. Brothers and Sisters, in these 30 years, He has proven to me that His yoke is indeed easy and burden light. He has shown me that there is no mountain that can stand in the way of His might and no matter how steep the climb or deep the drop, He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that through it all, He carried me.

If you were born as far back as i was, please realize that we occupy the privileged position as a generation that is in many ways, the half way point. While we were the last to play in the rain, we were the first to wean our babies on a staple diet of you tube and smart phones. The information age has come with its own set of belief systems – we have had our faith questioned, challenged and thrown back in our faces and many have sadly, abandoned ship all together. Being a professed Christian has its own set of challenges and the Cross may seem heavier- it will make it hard to maneuver through tight spaces of compromise and logic; it will make it impossible to sit in some places, and I promise you, as you continue to yield to Him, it will determine your next move.

In the face of all these, i want to encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on that Cross. No matter how great the challenges, or difficult the choices and questions – keep holding on. Don’t lose sight of Christ and don’t lose your faith. Cling to that old cross until you exchange it for a crown.

And when it feels overwhelming, remember that I and many others are walking right along with you. Do not hesitate to reach out and we shall be there to lend a shoulder – Just keep walking, keep clinging – He’s with you all the way.