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And the winner is the river!

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ALLAHABAD, India (AP) – “Millions of devout Hindus led by naked ascetics with ash smeared on their bodies plunged into the frigid waters of India’s holy Ganges River on Monday in a ritual they believe can wash away their sins. The ceremony in the northern city of Allahabad took place on the most auspicious day of the Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival, one of the world’s largest religious gatherings that lasts 55 days. The festival continues until March 10. Top festival official Mani Prasad Mishra said nearly 3 million people had bathed by late morning, and 11 million were expected to enter the frigid water by the day’s end… Over 110 million people are expected to take a dip at the Sangam, the place where three rivers – the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati – come together at the edge of this North Indian city…”

When I read that this morning, I thought about my daughter’s two trips to India. She said the Ganges is nasty and smelly. I’m thinking that really makes sense with all those gross sins mingling around.

I am not making fun of Hindus or India. I am actually sad for the people who are, according to the article, bathing “to wash away their sins and free themselves from the cycle of death and rebirth.” Sadly, I suspect many of them will return next year.

I had similar sad thoughts last night watching the Golden Globe awards. Amidst the glitz and glamour, I observed bucketfuls of insecurity. Several award winners mentioned their loneliness and how few people believed in them. I wondered how many of them keep hoping that someone will truly love them for who they really are, rather than enjoying their characters.

Perhaps some of them don’t even know who they truly are anymore. So, moving from one role to another, they move from one relationship to another, hoping to find that elusive place where life is not driven by the fickle nature of critics and fake friends.

My meandering thoughts remind me that regardless of one’s religious persuasion or heritage, there is an inherent awareness of failure (sin) and a restless desire for acceptance (peace). It’s not just true in India and Hollywood. It’s true in Azle and Decatur and everywhere else there are people.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Augustine (354-430 A.D) prayed, “You made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.”

Our lives matter so much to God that He makes it possible for us to be forgiven and at peace through turning to Christ (repentance).

Sounds like a win/win. Peace with God for us and a lot less grossness for the rivers.

Dr. Gerry Lewis is director of missions for the Harvest Baptist Association, which is headquartered in Decatur. He writes a blog at www.lifematterstoday.blogspot.com.

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