“Forget what you have heard about Jesus if it doesn’t begin and end with love.” – Davis Phelps
David Norris Phelps, an American Christian music vocalist, songwriter and vocal arranger is best known for singing tenor in the Gaither Vocal Band (GVB), an American southern gospel vocal group, named after its founder and leader Bill Gaither.
The GVB emerged in the early 1980s recording contemporary Christian music. Later it became known for its southern gospel. Bill Gaither leads the group with passion and his genuine desire to bring meaning to the music which the group sings.
The lineup of the GVB changes often. Besides Bill Gaither, singers with the longest tenure in the band include Michael English (1985–94, 2009–13), Mark Lowry (1988–2001, 2009–13), Guy Penrod (1995–2008), David Phelps (1997-2004, 2009-present) and Wes Hampton (2005-present).
As of February 2014, the lineup consists of Bill Gaither, David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, and Todd Suttles.
All the members of GVB are all talented artists and are authentic men of faith. Known worldwide for their vocal power, innovative harmonies, they are instruments of God to carry the message of hope, grace and redemption.
Today, with over 30 years of history, the GVB, has an award-winning legacy of excellence for the harmony of those male voices: vocals, baritone, bass, and tenor.
David Phelps started his professional career at GVB in 1996. He remained at GVB as a tenor for eight years from 1996 to 2004. In 2004, he left the group to realize the biggest dream of his life: to develop his solo career. In early 2009, after recording seven albums, he returned to the GVB.
In 2002, Gaither Homecoming Video featured David Phelps in God Bless America, which featured his solo “End of the Beginning“.
A top reviewer declared: “You can’t go wrong with a Phelps piece!!”
End Of The Beginning
Words & music by David Phelps
I was taking a trip on a plane the other day, just wishin’ that I could get out.
When the man next to me saw the book in my hand and asked me what it was about.
So I settled back in my seat. “A best-seller,” I said, “a hist’ry and a myst’ry in one.”
Then I opened up the book and began to read from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…
He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem.
Angels gathered ’round Him underneath the star singing praises to the great I AM.
He walked on the water, healed The lame, and made the blind to see again.
And for the first time here on earth we learned that God could be a friend.
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, the angry crowd chose Him.
And then He walked down the road and died on the cross and that was the end…of the beginning.”
“That’s not a new book, that’s a Bible,” he said, “And I’ve heard it all before.
I’ve tried religion, it’s shame and guilt, and I don’t need it anymore.
It’s superstation, made-up tales, just to help the weak to survive.”
“Let me read it again,” I said, “But listen closely. This is gonna change your life.”
“He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem.
Angels gathered ’round Him underneath the star singing praises to the great I AM.
He walked on the water, healed the lame, and made the blind to see again.
And for the first time here on earth we learned that God could be a friend.
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, the angry crowd chose Him. And then He walked down the road and died on the cross and that was the end…of the beginning.”
“The end of the beginning?” he said with a smile. “What more
could there be? He’s dead. You said they hung Him, put nails in
His hands and a crown of thorns on His head.” I said, “I’ll read it
again, but this time there’s more.
And I believe that this is true: His death wasn’t the end but the beginning of life that’s completed in you.
Don’t you see, He did all this for you…”
“He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem. All the angels singing praises to the great I AM.
He walked on the water, healed the lame, and made the blind to see.
And for the first time here on earth, did you know that God could be a friend?
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, He was the one the crowd chose.
And then He walked and He died, but three days later, three days later, three days later…
He rose! Three days later He rose!
You see, He came, He lived, and He died, but that was the end of the beginning.
I can still remember the day I first heard the recitation of Francis Thompson’s “The Hound of Heaven“. It was way back in 1952 when I was 11 years old studying at St. Mary’s College, Chilaw, Sri Lanka. One evening, our boarding-master, Reverend Brother Andrew Michael, a Christian Brother of the order of Saint De La Salle, recited for us that soul searching haunting poem.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
These words still linger in my mind.
Eugene O’Neill, the Irish American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature could recite this poem from memory.
J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and other tales admired it.
G.K. Chesterton, known as the “prince of paradox“, hailed Thompson as a great English poet and described him as a “shy volcano“.
The Hound of Heaven considered by many as one of the great Catholic poems, gushed out from the soul, of a deeply troubled a person who throughout his adult life battled addiction, poverty and depression.
Even though it is Victorian poetry, many, including me, still seek comfort in Thompson’s view of a loving God who constantly pursues the wayward soul.
Francis Thompson born December 16, 1859, was an English poet who later turned into an ascetic. He was the eldest son of a provincial doctor in northern England. He grew up as a shy introverted boy who loved the classics, Shakespeare, in particular. He attended Ushaw College, a Catholic institution near Durham.
If not for his frail health, he would have entered the seminary to pursue the priesthood. He then studied medicine at Owens College in Manchester complying to his father’s wish. His heart was not in medicine rather it was literature that beckoned him. He “made a pretense of study” for six years. After finishing his medical course, he never practiced medicine. He went to London aspiring to become a writer.
Francis Thompson began his career as a bookseller but was not successful. Then he found work in a shoemaker’s store; he sold matches; called cabs. Eventually, he got addicted to opium after consuming it as medicine for ill health. He became a destitute. As a vagrant, he begged for his sustenance. Soon Thompson started living on the streets of Charing Cross and slept by the River Thames along with the homeless and other addicts.
He found solace in the public libraries, but some banned him because of his ragged appearance.
A peer of Thompson wrote:
A stranger figure than Thompson’s was not to be seen in London. Gentle in looks, half-wild in externals, his face worn by pain and the fierce reactions of laudanum, his hair and straggling beard neglected, he had yet a distinction and aloofness of bearing that marked him in the crowd; and when he opened his lips he spoke as a gentleman and a scholar. It was impossible and unnecessary to think always of the tragic side of his life.
At one point of time when Thompson tried to commit suicide, a prostitute offered him a place to stay and looked after him for a while. Thompson never revealed her true identity not even her name, but later referred to her as one who saved him.
Around 1887-88, Thompson sent some poems to Wilfrid Meynell, editor of a Catholic literary magazine giving a post-office address. He added a note apologizing “for the soiled state of the manuscript. It is due, not to slovenliness, but to the strange places and circumstances under which it has been written.” After some time when Meynell read the pigeonholed manuscripts, he immediately wrote a welcoming letter to Thompson, but the post office returned it.
Wilfrid Meynell published Thompson’s poems in Merrie England so that the author might see them and disclose himself. Thompson saw his published poems and wrote to Meynell. This time he gave the address of a chemist’s shop. When Meynell reached the address, he found that Thompson owed money to the chemist for the opium he had purchased. Meynell left a note requesting Thompson to call upon him.
Wilfrid Meynell and his wife Alice Meynell (née Thompson) whose father was a friend of Charles Dickens rescued Francis Thompson from the verge of starvation and self-destruction. The first step was to restore him to better health and to wean him from the opium habit. A doctor’s care for some months at Storrington, Sussex, where he lived as a boarder at the Premonstratensian monastery, gave him a new hold upon life.
Recognizing the genius in him the Meynell couple arranged for the publication of his first book, “Poems” in 1893. The book received the attention of sympathetic critics in the St James’s Gazette and other newspapers. The English poet and critic Coventry Patmore wrote a eulogistic paragraph in the Fortnightly Review of January 1894.
In the years from 1889 to 1896, Thompson wrote the poems contained in the three volumes, “Poems,” “Sister Songs,” and “New Poems” and other works and essays.
Francis Thompson died from tuberculosis on November 13, 1907, aged forty-eight after receiving all the sacraments, in the excellent care of the Sisters of St. John and St. Elizabeth. He is buried in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Shortly after Francis Thompson’s death G. K. Chesterton said: “with Francis Thompson we lost the greatest poetic energy since Browning.“
THE HOUND OF HEAVEN
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter. Up vistaed hopes, I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears. From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat—and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet— “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”
I pleaded, out law-wise, By many a hearted casement, curtained red, Trellised with intertwining charities (For, though I knew His love Who followèd, Yet was I sore adread Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside); But, if one little casement parted wide, The gust of His approach would clash it to. Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue. Across the margent of the world I fled, And troubled the gold gateways of the stars, Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars; Fretted to dulcet jars And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to dawn: Be sudden; to eve: Be soon— With thy young skyey blossoms heap me over From this tremendous Lover! Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see! I tempted all His servitors, but to find My own betrayal in their constancy, In faith to Him their fickleness to me, Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit. To all swift things for swiftness did I sue; Clung to the whistling mane of every wind. But whether they swept, smoothly fleet, The long savannahs of the blue; Or whether, Thunder-driven, They clanged His chariot ‘thwart a heaven Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:— Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue. Still with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, Came on the following Feet, And a Voice above their beat— “Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”
I sought no more that after which I strayed In face of man or maid; But still within the little children’s eyes Seems something, something that replies, They at least are for me, surely for me! I turned me to them very wistfully; But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair With dawning answers there, Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share With me” (said I) “your delicate fellowship; Let me greet you lip to lip, Let me twine with you caresses, Wantoning With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses, Banqueting With her in her wind-walled palace, Underneath her azured daïs, Quaffing, as your taintless way is, From a chalice Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.” So it was done; I in their delicate fellowship was one— Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies. I knew all the swift importings, On the wilful face of skies; I knew how the clouds arise, Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings; All that’s born or dies Rose and drooped with; made them shapers Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine— With them joyed and was bereaven. I was heavy with the even, When she lit her glimmering tapers Round the day’s dead sanctities. I laughed in the morning’s eyes. I triumphed and I saddened with all weather, Heaven and I wept together, And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine; Against the red throb of its sunset-heart I laid my own to beat, And share commingling heat; But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart. In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek. For ah! we know not what each other says, These things and I; in sound I speak— Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences. Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake by drouth; Let her, if she would owe me, Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me The breasts o’ her tenderness: Never did any milk of hers once bless My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase, With unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, And past those noisèd Feet A Voice comes yet more fleet— “Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.”
Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke! My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me, And smitten me to my knee; I am defenceless utterly. I slept, methinks, and woke, And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep. In the rash lustihead of my young powers, I shook the pillaring hours And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears, I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years— My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap. My days have crackled and gone up in smoke, Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream. Yea, faileth now even dream The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist; Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist, Are yielding; cords of all too weak account For earth, with heavy griefs so overplussed. Ah! is Thy love indeed A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed, Suffering no flowers except its own to mount? Ah! must— Designer infinite!— Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it? My freshness spent its wavering shower i‘ the dust; And now my heart is as a broken fount, Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever From the dank thoughts that shiver Upon the sighful branches of my mind. Such is; what is to be? The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind? I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds; Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds From the hid battlements of Eternity: Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then Round the half-glimpsèd turrets slowly wash again; But not ere Him who summoneth I first have seen, enwound And now my heart is as a broken fount, Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever From the dank thoughts that shiver With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned; His name I know, and what his trumpet saith. Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields Be dunged with rotten death?
Now of that long pursuit Comes on at hand the bruit; That Voice is round me like a bursting sea: “And is thy earth so marred, Shattered in shard on shard? Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me! Strange, piteous, futile thing, Wherefore should any set thee love apart? Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said), “And human love needs human meriting: How hast thou merited— Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot? Alack, thou knowest not How little worthy of any love thou art! Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, Save Me, save only Me? All which I took from thee I did but take, Not for thy harms, But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms. All which thy child’s mistake Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: Rise, clasp My hand, and come.” Halts by me that footfall: Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly? “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest! Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”
People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
“God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.”
“Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.”
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”
“I once picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My son did this to me.’
I begged her: ‘You must forgive your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself, he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him.’
It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my son.’
Just before she died in my arms, she was able to say that with a real forgiveness.
She was not concerned that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand.”
“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”
“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”
“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”
“A life not lived for others is not a life.”
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
“Live simply so others may simply live.”
“Spread the love of God through your life but only use words when necessary.”
“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.”
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”
“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.”
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
“People are unrealistic, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.”
“Work without love is slavery.”
“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”
“Love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.”
“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.”
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
“Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.”
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.”
“If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”
“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”
“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.”
“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?’”
“God made the world for the delight of human beings– if we could see His goodness everywhere, His concern for us, His awareness of our needs: the phone call we’ve waited for, the ride we are offered, the letter in the mail, just the little things He does for us throughout the day. As we remember and notice His love for us, we just begin to fall in love with Him because He is so busy with us — you just can’t resist Him. I believe there’s no such thing as luck in life, it’s God’s love, it’s His.”
“There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.”
“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually means less.”
“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”
“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
“When you don’t have anything, then you have everything.”
“When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. “
“The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy.”
“Prayer in action is love, love in action is service.”
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
“If we pray, we will believe; If we believe, we will love; If we love, we will serve.”
“There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:
Jesus is my God,
Jesus is my Spouse,
Jesus is my Life,
Jesus is my only Love,
Jesus is my All in All;
Jesus is my Everything.”
“You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me.”
“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
“Peace begins with a smile..”
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
“The person who gives with a smile is the best giver because God loves a cheerful giver.”
“Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.”
“Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don’t only give your care, but give your heart as well.”
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
My young friend Joe Napoleon and I were talking about hospitals. When I mentioned the name of a hospital in Chennai, he said: “Uncle, I was there once.”
This brought to my mind the friendly exchange I had with another blogger – OneDaringJew, Raphael Gamaroff living in South Africa, born to Jewish parents who as children, in the early 1900s, immigrated to South Africa from the Russian Empire.
YHWH stems from the Jewish conception of monotheism that God exists by himself for himself, and is the uncreated Creator who is independent of any concept, force, or entity “I AM that I AM”.
On reading my post, Raphael Gamaroff alias bography commented:
Much useful and inspiring information. You asked
“So, when Jesus said ‘I Am’ was it another way of referring to God?”
What do you think? I ask because – I might have missed it – I don’t see any answer to your question, or did you mean to provide no answer?
So, I answered:
I am just a humble soul, a layman.
The daily gospel readings inspire me so I try to gather a bit more information to aid my understanding.
When I wrote: “So when Jesus said ‘I Am’ was it another way of referring to God?” is a perennial question that could be answered by One Daring Jew like you and others dedicated to the ministries.
In the last paragraph in my post, I have put in gathered information.
‘YHWH stems from the Jewish conception of monotheism that God exists by himself for himself, and is the uncreated Creator who is independent of any concept, force, or entity “I AM that I AM”.’
Since Jesus was a Jew you will know him better than I do. I want to learn more about Jesus and his times. That is why I have undertaken to write a post daily on what inspires me, namely the daily reading from the gospels.
And Raphael was quick to lay the next question:
You say, “I am just a humble soul, a layman.”
As you know most Jews, Christians, etc. are laypersons. If they are genuine about their faith, their lay status is no excuse to “layabout,” which you obviously don’t do.
If, say, a Christian does not devote a good amount of time to the study of his religion, he is not a genuine Christian. You have shown what a humble layman – and an agnostic (that is what you are at the moment, right?) – can do with his time, effort and ability. And English is only your second language, not so!
But to return to your post, you have laid (tee hee lay-man) out the issue well. There is Jesus who claims to be God (do you agree that he is claiming this?) and there is the Jewish claim of who God is. They both can’t be right, right?
Do you think that knowing which one of the two is true could affect your eternal destiny? But I suppose I should have first asked you whether you believe in an afterlife.
This was my reply to him:
Raphael (aka bogrophy),
About afterlife? I don’t know… Is there a life after death? This too is another perennial question I find in ‘my’ book of life.
There is an age-old adage in my mother tongue Tamil, “மாண்டவர் மீண்டதில்லை, மீண்டும் வந்து வாழ்ந்ததில்லை” (Transliteration: maandavar meendathillai, meendum vandhu vaalndhathillai) meaning “the dead don’t resurrect nor do come back and live again.”
About 2 years ago, in India, I suddenly fell ill. My elder daughter rushed me to a nearby clinic where I blanked out. She later said that for ten minutes or so I was motionless without any pulse. All, including the doctors, assumed I had ‘gone.’
I? I was in a limbo, in a pitch-black, cold, singular, silent abyss.
After a while, I heard the voice of my daughter, faint and far away, crying her heart out, By and by, her voice became louder and I could hear her giving instructions to some people beside her to be careful with my body/person.
I slowly regained consciousness but couldn’t open my eyes as it was excruciatingly bright. Then I saw my daughter’s face, tears streaming down her cheek.
So, from then on, I became conscious of the fact that there is some purpose for my resurrection and coming back to live again. So, from that day onwards
“… I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Now don’t say “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”
Mark you this, Bassanio, The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness Is like a villain with a smiling cheek, A goodly apple rotten at the heart: O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath! ( Antonio in William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”)
If “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose”, why would he do that?
(a) to show off (b) to curry favour with God (c) to disguise his intentions
My choice would be (b).
So, I was there once – in limbo, in a pitch black, cold, singular silent abyss. I try to open my eyes: nothing. I try to move my arms and my legs but nothing responds. And then I saw the light and am once again with the living now.