BY: PETER MILLER
E-MAIL ADDRESS: Pmiller1987@gmail.com
BIBLE TEXT: Exodus 23:13 (NLT): “Pay close attention to all my instructions. You must not call on the name of any other gods. Do not even speak their names.”
PERSONAL REFLECTION: Last year I spent five days running around Kolkata, India. In case you’re wondering if I mean “Calcutta,” India and learned to spell using phonics you’re half right. It’s the same place and I spelled it right. They changed the name to Kolkata in 2001 to match its original dialect.
People tend to have one of two opinions about Kolkata: love it, or never going there again. I loved it. We ate Indian food most of the time. I’m normally very picky but I decided that it was time for “adventure eating.” Whatever came my way I tried, sometimes spectacular, sometimes “ack, ick, I can’t swallow it.” One time the meal was so good I asked what it was called. Goat. I ate Goat.
The sights, sounds, smells, and colors of India give you the extremes of each on all counts — from lovely to ghastly. At times we saw individuals in such desperate conditions we were stunned into silence. Then almost as quickly, another scene appears that can only be described as a beautiful vision. Side by side both exist, seemingly oblivious to the other.
Let’s head down the ghastly side. Our guide took us to the canal district. The canal is a slow moving river that runs through Kolkata. Locals live right on the banks in little shacks. The shacks are made from various materials: cardboard, tarps, plywood, old billboards, whatever can be salvaged. If you’re a local you wash your clothes in the canal, fish in the canal, bathe in the canal, etc. Did I mention it is a custom of some locals to let their dead relatives drift into the canal so they can return to Goddess Kali?
Goddess “Kali” is where Kolkata gets its name. Kali is a blood thirsty goddess that represents prostitution and theft. Right here I could go into a teaching on, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” but it’s all too real in India for a short study here. I’ll stay with the canal for now.
As we drove the frontage road next to the canal I rolled down my window to hear and see better. Our driver told me to roll it up quickly as I would get very sick from the dust that would come in. It got worse from there. India has thousands of gods. A fun thing for the locals to do is make statues of them. The canal seems to have a shrine, monument, or statue for every last one. The irony is not lost on me. Littered among the worst human suffering you can imagine are thousands of false idols standing silently by. No help to the idol makers whatsoever.
There are two idol statues that are particularly horrifying: seven-feet tall stone men painted in all sorts of bright colors. One of them holds high a sword and the severed head of the one next to him – freakish expressions of terror on both their faces and all too life-like. They are not something Hollywood could dream up. They come from a very dark place and appear to represent actual demi-gods. I think whoever created them was inspired by the most of evil of things.
I tried to take it all in but my head was swimming. Then a voice spoke softly. I almost missed it. “This canal is the physical representation of what happens to our hearts when we follow false gods.” Pastor Joshua was a local Christian pastor that accompanied us that day. He spoke so softly I’m not sure if he meant for us to hear it or was just making an observation for himself. But there it was: “This canal is the physical representation of what happens to our hearts when we follow false gods.”
PERSONAL APPLICATION: So what is a false God? Any object, person, idea, thought, fear, or belief that we trust in more than God. Want to know if any demi-gods have crept into your life? Good! Wanting to know is the first step in evicting them. The next is asking Father to reveal them to you. Remember, turning a sewage canal into a river of life can only be done by the Father.
PRAYER: Dad, I ask you again to toss out the garbage I’ve let into my life. It contaminates my soul and keeps me from you. Let the river of life that emanates from your spirit flow into and through my life so that your will is done and mine is set aside. Help me to never thirst again. Amen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Married to Jani Miller, Women’s Ministry Leadership
3 Adult children — empty nest is best!
2 Juvenile German Shepherds
Avid supporter of Calcutta Mercy Ministries
Received Minister’s Certification from Berean School of the Bible
CEO of ProTech Industries