Looking Up, Looking In

Shobana Vetrivel   |   March 21, 2016 

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One of the things I love looking at is the sky and, particularly, at clouds. It is a view that I can gaze at endlessly - the wide expanse of space, the cloud formations, the range of colour combinations from blue to pink to red – and revel in grandeur of it all and the sense of awe it inspires.

But it is not a view that I can be sure to see every day because I live in Delhi. Most days, when I look up at the sky what I see is a brownish hue, which my weather app rightly identifies as haze, smoke, smog, etc. So the days when I get to see blue skies and white clouds, usually during monsoons in Delhi or when I travel outside Delhi, I end up filling my phone and social media with cloud pictures.

The last couple of weeks in Delhi, however, probably because of the rains or because the odd-even rule to reduce pollution worked, there have been clear blue skies with fluffy white clouds almost every day. I find myself looking up in shock sometimes at the view and then trying to catch as much of it as possible. This natural beauty that I love so much has revealed some truths to me in a subtle but spectacular way.

Looking Up

One of the verses we have been focussing on in church the last couple of weeks is Colossians 3:1-2,

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

As I have stepped out of my house lately, I have looked up and found it hard to look back down to the ground to see where I’m walking, because the sky is breathtakingly beautiful. I’ve enjoyed the part of my work that takes me outside to the markets because I get to look up. When I’m in the car with my sister, I keep telling her to look up even though she’s driving.

While the ‘above’ in the verse does not mean the sky, the physical act of looking up has reminded me of this verse that urges me to seek Christ. To remember that I am part of a bigger story and a bigger reality than the one I tend to focus on. The circumstances of my day, the ups and downs of my moods, the small and big irritations, the sadness and depravity so evident in the daily news and even the comforts and pleasures that I hold on to, are momentary and fleeting and pale in comparison to the hope held out to me.

Looking up has helped me to remember to focus on seeing Christ for who He really is and to seek to see Him clearly.

Looking In

Not only has the sky been lovely lately, but everything else looks clearer and more visible - the roads, the trees, the buildings, etc. Somehow the haze that surrounds everything in the city has lifted and even if the sights are not the prettiest, the clarity has made them noticeable. As much as I find myself looking up, I find myself looking in and around me as well.

In the last couple of weeks, I began to see myself more clearly as well. Something that I had been ignoring, glossing over and pretending didn’t affect me was having an effect on me that I didn’t realise till I began reacting to things in ways that surprised me. I had to face the truth with all its horror and dirt and grime, confess and look to God to heal me. I can’t say I’ve seen the end of it, but I am grateful for godly friendships, counsel and community that I can rely on through this.

Looking at things around me more clearly has reminded me that seeing Christ clearly usually leads to seeing ourselves and everything else clearly. Seeing Christ clearly will change us and change things around us.

I don’t know how long I will be able to see these blue cloudy skies in Delhi, but this prayer sums up the thoughts that I want to move into the Passion Week with,

“Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,

For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.”
Richard of Chichester



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Shobana Vetrivel

Shobana Vetrivel enjoys the hustle and bustle of city life and the adventure of living in New Delhi. She has an educational background in social development and theology and has worked in both development and ministry settings. She currently works with Delhi School of Theology and is pursuing a PhD in Practical Theology. Books, travelling, theology, coffee and deep conversations are a few of her favourite things.  

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2 comments on “Looking Up, Looking In”

  1. This past week I was pondering on the same idea of keeping eyes fixed on God and not the storm, how Peter managed to walk on water. Enjoyed reading this so much. Especially because it was exactly what has been on my mind put in my favorite way to hear it- God's love notes to us, in the sky! 🙂

  2. I saw the picture of clouds and knew it must be your post 🙂 loved " ...seeing Christ clearly usually leads to seeing ourselves and everything else clearly." And so true.

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