I was born in 1982 in a Jain family in India. My parents raised me with moderately conservative family values and also with Jain religious values. During my school and college days, I compulsively found meaning and purpose in life through several tangible achievements obtained by hard work. I thought life was all about success in academics, sports, and other activities and striving for being the number one in everything. After completing my high school from my hometown in Gujarat (Rajkot), I went to the USA to pursue a degree in dentistry at New York University. I continued to live life through my college years doing things that were considered “cool” for people at that age; this made it easy for me to be part of the “herd”.
My first turning point in life happened in 2006 when I at NYU. I had always wanted to be a dentist, yet here I was, on course to fulfilling my desire, and there was no satisfaction! I went through a period of depression. There was an emptiness within – a lack of contentment, inner joy and clear purpose in life. In order to fill this emptiness, I decided to quit pursuing dentistry and returned to India.
In India, I made various attempts to search for the truth and purpose of life by reading through various books from different religious philosophies. I simultaneously explored other career options, and started making progress. By October 2010, I was in a new “high” phase of my life – high in the sense that I had my career figured out, I had topped my exams in Hotel Management and was receiving an award for the same, I had got a promotion to the senior managerial level in the five star property I was working for and most important, I was enjoying my work. However, I was hungry to know the truth, and to know who God was and how I was related to Him (or to “them”, according to my understanding at that time about there being many gods). I was eager to understand the meaning and purpose of life since death was inevitable!
It was at this time, while attending a hotel association’s regional conference in Mumbai that I began my journey in close association with the true God. I made this first connection with God when Mr K V Simon (my professional colleague at that time, but now a dear uncle in the family of God from the Fort assembly, Mumbai) handed me a copy of the gospel of Luke, with just one earnest request: to read it with the heart of a child and believe it as the word of God. He also gave me a very important lesson in the very beginning: to always rely and believe in the Word of God alone for any truth and not on my own thoughts and understanding or on the perceptions of any other human being. He said that when we connect to God, He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit. Looking back now, I see that his advice was in accordance with the Word of God.
When I returned home, I was introduced to a pastor in Rajkot, Mr David Isaac, who gave me my first Bible. My hunger for God’s Word continued to grow and I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour in January 2011 and got baptized the next month. It was amazing how in the eternal plan of God, He called my mother also and she received Christ as her personal Saviour six months after I was saved. The Lord Jesus transformed her life from worshiping gods through idol worship, traditional rituals and sacrificial offerings according to old customs, to worshiping God our Creator and Father in spirit and truth and she is gladly serving him.
Two portions from the New Testament particularly pierced my heart. They caused me to go through a “peeling” experience or a “dropping off” experience of all the things in my life that I thought were my biggest achievements. They also lightened my heart and soul completely by giving me a “cleansing” experience that humbled me before God and His priceless provision. Those verses are:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
My biggest realization at the moment I read these verses was that the salvation of my soul was the most precious gift of my life; a gift from God Himself: eternal life – that no man can create or reproduce by personal efforts, works or knowledge! Through His gift, I was freed from death and hence entered into eternity! What a joy-giving thought to ponder over and over!
As I grew spiritually in the Lord, with the Lord, in His Light and with His amazing grace with me at all times, the following verse has been very encouraging to me because it is indeed true like the rest of God’s word:
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This verse above was an instant “cure” for all my lows – failures became opportunities to grow, loneliness became precious times to get close to God, darkness turned into light, mourning to rejoicing, weakness into His strength and gloominess into hope and positivity in Him.
In the initial years of after I was saved, I could not help but experience the contrast between my previous understanding of God and my new-found relationship with Him. As a Jain family member, I used to worship several Jain and Hindu idols but still had no real connection with the true God. Today I praise and thank God each time I remember that I am His child first and also His bond-servant. The verses below enrich my relationship with God and help me to preserve Him in the right place of my life – in my heart.
The idols of the nations are but silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
They have eyes, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear,
Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
Yes, everyone who trusts in them.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20:–
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body."
As I continue my journey of eternity with the Lord, I have learned to lean on Him more and more and less on myself. Each time my old nature tries to control my desires and will power over the will of God, I remember the following verses that help me to submit to Him and have faith in Him at times when even now I feel completely lost and confused:
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.’”
As I continue to feed and nourish my soul each day with His pure and living Word, it gives me great encouragement to realize that His Word lasts forever. I hope to depend, trust, listen, follow and obey His Word as my duty and expression of my love for God. Here are the final verses highlighting the eternal durability and strength in His Word:
1 Peter 1:24-25-
“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”
The Lord Jesus has given me eternal life; being with God and His people forever starting from right now. Why don't you too put your trust in him?