“Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! … So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others.” 2 Peter 1:3-6 TM

We begin this chapter with an account written by A.C. Oommen, a theologian and pastor in the church of South India: 83

I never forgot my boyhood encounter with Gandhi, and his voice continued to influence my life. In 1947, when India became independent, I was a university student at Calcutta. As the midnight bell rang on August 15, people all over India and beyond listened to the historic speech that Pandit Nehru, our first prime minister and a great disciple of Gandhi, gave at Parliament House in Delhi. But Gandhi was not part of the celebration; with urgent work to do, he had disappeared from the scene.

The reason for his absence was that, as a precondition for India’s independence, the country was to be split in two as India and Pakistan. Gandhi had given his consent to this division reluctantly. This was one of the rare occasions when he gave in to others against his inner conviction, which came from a part of his life hidden from others: meditation, silence, and careful listening to the still, small voice within him.

One day of each week was strictly observed as a silence day. When he faced important decisions that affected his country, he asked for time to listen to that inner voice. Popular opinion was secondary to his decision-making because history is a dialogue between God and people. The world is pulled from above to a definite destiny, not pushed from behind by a blind force.

Upon partition, India witnessed violence on a scale it had never seen before, especially in Bengal in the east and Punjab in the west; Calcutta was the worst affected city on the eastern front. Thousands of families on both sides of the new line were uprooted. As law and order broke down completely, it was impossible to control the crowds;

I saw dead bodies piled up on the roadside. The police and army acknowledged their inability to control the violence.

Then we heard that Gandhi was coming to Calcutta. He had no military protection, and anyone could easily have killed him. He left Delhi unnoticed, traveling by train in a third-class compartment. Arriving in Calcutta’s Howrah station, he walked with his stick across the platform and asked for a small tent to be put up in the nearby maidan, where he seated himself on a raised platform. Remarking, “It’s better to die than to live in a world of violence,” he held a fast unto death.

The first two or three days went by without much change in the communal violence. By the third day, Gandhi was very weak and could not sit up. The news that he was dying spread far and wide. Leaders of the warring Hindus and Muslims came together in an attempt to save his life, promising Gandhi they would lay down their own lives to prevent any more deaths. But Gandhi insisted that he would continue his fast until he saw a real change among the people. It was Gandhi’s Satyagraha 84 in action: the innocent taking on the burden of others’ sins, and offering his own life as atonement.

Then a miracle took place of which I am an eyewitness. It seemed as if a breath of the Holy Spirit blew across the city. People came out of hiding. They put down their weapons before him, fell prostrate, and asked for his forgiveness. I saw separate processions of the warring Muslim and Hindu communities coming from two sides. Before, they would have attacked each other and none would have been left alive. Now they embraced each other, saying, “We are brothers.”

The transformation was deep and the cost of forgiveness great. At that time a Hindu asked Gandhi, “What shall I do? My only son was killed by a Muslim.” Straight came the reply: “Forgive. Adopt a Muslim child as your own. His parents may have been killed by Hindus.”

And so what the whole police force and the army failed to achieve in Calcutta, Gandhi accomplished in a few days. Lord Mountbatten, former governor general of India, called him India’s “one-man army.” Gandhi showed that innocent 85 suffering is the most powerful tool to bring peace to a world weary of conflict and war, just as Isaiah wrote in the songs of the suffering servant: “With his stripes we are healed.”

After establishing peace in Calcutta, Gandhi walked through the villages, and wherever he went the miracle occurred and people abandoned violence. I witnessed this.”


Ghandi’s call was to peace and he accomplished peace through non-violent protest. We see from Gandhi’s life a wisdom and clarity to bear the weight of a vision within one’s own being. He was not trying to fight for peace by using violence.

Do you see how this would undo and disqualify him from the very thing he was so desiring to see in the world. If, for instance, he had been violent as he sought to establish peace, his efforts would have crumpled in on themselves. We cannot birth something new by ill means or by quick fixes.

From vision (where we first see and long for what we want) to actualization (where that thing is finally achieved) is a process and journey and role and job of bearing the weight of the new, the vision, and the work in the spirit realm for this time and for this place and this people.

From vision to actualization:

  • is a process and journey and role and job that bears the weight of what is new
  • is a work in the spirit realm for this time, for this place, and this people

We cannot jump from vision to actualization with easy ‘amen’s or trite sayings, simple truths, or easy verses. The Kingdom of God requires an investment of our lives. Birthing is hard work, very hard work. It involves a labouring that few can handle. The weight of God’s work is borne in our beings, then out and for others.

Standing in our spiritual authority is about becoming the very thing we are trying to bring. What are you willing to suffer for? What are you ready to labor in? What are you able to become utterly faithful to?

The things we long to see in this world, must be borne by us. There is a carrying, then a bearing, and then a birthing of each work of the Lord. We are called to participate in the secret places alongside the Lord.

  • If you long for peace become a person of peace
  • If you long for justice become a person who is just and true in all your dealings
  • If you long for righteousness become a person utterly dependant and transparent before your Lord
  • If you long for truth become a person of honesty through and through
  • If you long for community that cares deeply become a person that deeply and actively cares for others

This is your spiritual authority. The influence of your life comes first and foremost out of your life. The choices you make, the kind of person you are, your faithfulness, these things make a big difference to all the people around you. And as you lead in peace or in justice, in righteousness or in truth, or in all these things in varying degrees, your life will make a difference on this earth.

But of course, great works begin years out. Years prior to every great work God asks of us small obediences, little risks, testing our motives and the pliability of our hearts. The spiritual authority of God breathing through our lives are found in the simple faithfulness of every day lived unto the Lord.

Of course, what we miss is that birthing requires focus, it requires prudence 86, faithfulness and sticking at the task till all is completed. And, it must be said, that birthing does not happen if we are running after many things. Birthing requires a certain secrecy, an in-secret process before a public work.

By the time a work becomes evident to others, there have been one or more persons carrying that work in their hearts and minds before the Lord. They have ached under the longing, cried under the weight, and have stood firm to see what is passionately on their hearts, one day come to pass.

The late Oswald Chambers describes our struggle with our tendency to easy work compared to what God would have of us.

“The natural heart will do any amount of serving, but it takes the heart broken by conviction of sin, and baptized by the holy Ghost, and crumpled into the purpose of God before the life becomes the sacrament of its message.” – Oswald Chambers – 87

And so the work that we do is not just another school, not just another orphanage, not just another widows home, not just another pastor’s conference, but these are accomplished and structured and sustained in such a way that the very manner of our Lord is accomplished through the tasks.

What can we learn from Gandhi?

Gandhi bore the weight of peace within his very being. He became a catalyst of change. He influenced our global conversations of godly manner and hearts intent on honouring our fellow men and women. This was his spiritual authority — he lived his convictions with great risk and clarity of mind, heart and purpose.

Each of us, both you and I, have unique passions and visions about the world and our place in it. Each of us are called to bear a work that would change our communities. It will require our lives and our greatest confidence in the Lord, and great courage as we go forward. What might you be called to birth?

“God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:9-11 TM


“God we come before you this day sober and realizing that you have specific jobs and roles and work for us to do on this earth. We say ‘yes’ to the work you have for us. I say ‘yes’ to the work you have for me. I ask God that you lead me. I need you to lead me. Awaken in me courage. Give me strength. Help me to know how to go forward. May I not go ahead of you and may I not lag behind you, but help me to hear your voice, to know your spirit and to stick close to you in all things. I surrender my life to the impact, be it small or big, that you would have through my life. May I be settled in your love and move according to your Spirit. Thank you Lord. Amen and amen.”


Let us consider some coaching questions to gain clarity of your work in the Lord: 88

  • What is the one thing that you know God has called you to?
  • If you were to do one thing, what would that one thing be?
  • Are you willing to put aside all the other things in order to fully focus on the one thing?
  • What is necessary for you to fully focus on that one thing?
  • How would you need to grow and develop for that one thing?
  • What might be the first step? Second step? Third step? and so on


We can look at physical birth of babies to find understanding to spiritual birthing. For instance, physical birth requires:

  1. Special Preparation – Women Need
  • plastic sheeting when they go to the hospital
  • a cloth to wrap the baby in when he or she is born
  • a towel to massage the baby after birth so that breathing begins in a timely fashion
  • a small soft clothing (a onsie) to dress the baby after he or she is born
  • self care – pads for themselves to help with the bleeding after birthing
  • gauze in case of any ripping of her vagina
  • a cord clamp for the baby
  • cotton to clean the cord so that there is no infection
  1. Wise and Kind Help and Assistance – Women Need
  • understanding – birthing is exceptionally hard work 89
  • kindness to support her emotionally as she labours
  • encouragement from others so that birthing is not so scary
  • a safe place to give birth
  • the support of loved ones and her husband
  • partnership with a husband to have the items (listed above) ready for when she goes into labor
  • a team of birthing experts to assist and give specialized care to her and her baby
  1. Good aftercare – Women need
  • time after labor and delivery for their bodies to heal
  • no sex after birthing, for two weeks (sex too soon brings more damage to a woman’s body)
  • time to rest so that she can produce enough milk for the baby
  • freedom from stress so that the baby grows well
  • to be gently attended to so that she knows she is loved and not alone as she raises her child

These three things, 1. Special Preparation, 2. Wise Help and Assistance, and 3. Good Aftercare, that women require for birthing are the very same things that all assignments in the Lord also need.

  1. Special Preparation:

Each of us, before beginning a work, must know the special preparations and then take the time and make the investment to ensure these are in place. Often the pre-planning is the most important part of anything we might do.

  1. Wise Help and Assistance:

We all need others around us as we go forward in the work and calling of the Lord upon our lives. We need people who know more than us. We need people who are gifted in other ways than us. We need those who are safe and can give compassionate encouragement that help us to carry on when things get hard.

  1. Good Aftercare:

This might be named ‘ongoing support’. We cannot carry the weight of the works before us without ongoing encouragement, tangible care, respectful help, and more. The follow-through of each work is often the most difficult. In regards to physical birthing and parenting this need for aftercare is why God put men and women together into families so that women are safe in the care of their man and so that children are safe in the care of their moms. It is the same with the works of our lives.

Just as women require a particular kind of care and concern when they are giving birth to babies, so too do we need particular care and concern as we birth the work of the Lord.

Do not just begin something without prayer and thought and gaining advice and wisdom from others around you. Hold back but be intentional, risk forward but take your time, say ‘yes’ to the Lord as you hear his voice but do not go forward on your own. Trust Him. Take on courage. Lead in love.

The Lord will lead you – Amen and amen.

Summary – Birthing something new
God invites us to invest our lives in his Kingdom Matthew 28:18-20

Kingdom work is about birthing love, justice, forgiveness and peace Psalm 89:14

We bear the weight of the is work in our own self before it overflows to the world around us
Luke 9:23


83 from https://www.plough.com/en/articles/2015/june/what-gandhi-taught-me-about-jesus
84 Definition of Satyagraha: a policy of passive political resistance, especially that advocated by Mahatma Gandhi against British rule in India http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Satyagraha
85 Innocent suffering, such as we read about in the story of Gandhi, entails that we are innocent. Meaning – we carry no hate in our own hearts. Change comes by the power of love and not hate. Hate may feel powerful, but it is not.
86 Definition of Prudence: the quality of fact of being prudent, or wise in practical affairs, as by providing for the future. Caution with regard to practical matters; discretion. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/prudence
87 My Utmost for His Highest, 1935, 1963, 1992, by Oswald Chambers, Discovery House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
88 Coaching questions are for the purpose of new thoughts and awareness. We do not rush to answer these questions – rather, we ask these questions, holding them open in our hands before the Lord, waiting silently for the Holy Spirit to bring clarity to our thinking and understanding. Sometimes this can take weeks, months or even years. Ask the questions and wait on the Lord for the answers.
89 A human can handle up to 45 del (units) of pain, yet childbearing delivers up to 57 del (units) of pain

=> Let’s continue our learning by looking at A Theology of Suffering

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