THE WINNER GAVE IT ALL GIVEN YOUR ALL - NOW WHAT ? HOME ISBN 0 9577 426 7 3 CHAPTER 15 Written/published 30/12/08 / 1/1/09
"For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now ". (Romans 8, 22)
(This chapter leads back to the Brisbane - Canberra bicycle tour).
15. NOW WON
On many occasions in my writing did I refer to God as Number One. On Christmas morning 2008, the day after publishing the previous chapter, I did what I seldom do, ate breakfast in our garden. It was a superb morning, warm, no wind. The chirping of the birds sounded happy, as if they knew it was the Christman's birthday.
The bible reading in Our Daily Bread that day was from Micah 5. This is the passage in the Old Testament, which is either ignored, or simply classed as co-incidence, by those who don't want to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah. Sadly, this still includes a vast majority of the citizens of Israel.
Where much of biblical prophesy is in vague pictures, Micah 5 mentions the town Bethlehem as the place, central to Christmas. The writer not only prophesied the location, but the event, a very unusual birth. Had there been postcodes, I'm sure Micah would have prophesied it:
Micah 5 (New King James version).
(Note: 5, 5 -  One shall be peace!
Text: The Coming Messiah
2: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose going forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
3: Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labour has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel,
4: And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God, and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth
5: And this One shall be peace.
Micah 5, 5 - one shall be peace - tickled my thinking brain: Jesus wrapped in one word - peace. Did I not years ago discover the number 55 as LV, the consonants of the word Love? Micah 5, 5 reveals Love and Peace - L & P - the start of my journey!
As I write, in the final days of 2008, the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip, has escalated. Hundreds are reported killed. One comment by a Hamas leader on television made me think. The gentleman said (as I remember it):
"We will continue our campaign (rocket attacks on Israel) until victory or when God tells us to stop."
Did I hear the angry man correctly? Did he really mean it? If God were to tell them to stop, they would stop their attacks?
Is it possible that these fundamental, religious believers kneel and pray (five times a day) and are asking God seriously: "Do you want us to continue to shoot deadly rockets across to Israel? Do you want us to fight Israel (and all infidels) until all believe in you Allah?"
If so, do they wait diligently for an answer from God? What kind of God would give the go-ahead?
I pray that God indeed will open their eyes to the Jesus way - Love, which leads to Peace.
Likewise, Israel's ultimate answer lies not in military power, but a power, hidden in it's history, waiting to be unleashed - God's power.
With this thought in mind I emailed the NBC's US TV program The Today Show. It had been months since I had woken real early and watched US breakfast TV.
In my message I tried to not take sides, but simply point to the only solution, which will once and for all settle this conflict - Love. (Note, how interesting, my email ends in the letter L).
To: NBC Today Show
Subject: No Jesus, no peace - Know Jesus, all peace
Date: 30/12/2008Hi all,It's been a while since I woke at 4.13 am, wide awake. I rose and tuned into your show - the story of the missing passenger on the Cruise Liner.It reminded me of a time, almost 10 years ago, where I was on my way to Tasmania on a passenger boat. I feared being thrown overboard, so I returned home - the adventure that followed is a long story, which took me around the world (three time to the USA) and is now my URL (see below) in seven books.N.... is a well-known name here, a TV journalist - Kelly. I also noted Mr. Sanders, Kerry. Even the names Jim and Suzanne took my attention this morning. But as I watched another fact about today (not Today) stirred my brain - the date (here in Australia) 30.12.2008 (301 & 228).The two digits 301 & 228 are the registration plates of two motor vehicles* we owned some time ago. In a strange discovered over a period of time I noticed a scripture in the Bible: In my German Bible Joel 3, Verse 1 is identical to Joel 2, Verse 28 in the English Bible. Nobody knows why this isso. The Verse is a significant one - the outpouring of the God's Spirit upon all flesh.This outpouring has already started. When it reaches those who are still fighting, fighting will stop. World Peace is only possible when the Holy Spirit takes over people's hearts and minds. They will see life from a completely different perspective. They will see God as a God of love and joy. Sadly, the God of Hamas is one of fear.Most Israeli's are also blinded to the new reality of their God, Jesus the Messiah. HE came, but they received HIM not. They still don't.One day, on that day, all will.Kind regardsDieter Fischer
NA 115 bPS *Vehicle 228 is still in our driveway. Vehicle 301 we sold for $ 1500 to a person, just around the corner from us. If we drew a line, it would make the letter L. The address: 50 T.... Road.
Friends, if peace could be achieved by our human efforts, why has the United Nations not succeeded in establishing peace?
Another question that plagues many modern thinkers:
Why do I need a God anyway? Can't I simply live a good life, giving to the poor and living peacefully with my neighbour, tolerating everybody?
Those who live that way are living life their way, rationally, logically. But God does not always work in a rational manner using human logic. Living life without God is closing the door to immense power, possibilities which no human mind can think of.
Historically, how many times did God come to the rescue of HIS people in trouble? He delivered them from floods, from fire, from the enemy's sword. (One example, I wrote about it in detail, is in the previous chapter).
The very decision to live life without God is sin. Good works, no matter how good or how well intended, make little difference. God is Love, to live without HIM is to live without real Love. To live in HIM is to be on the way HOME - Home, forever with HIM.
- - - - - - -
Above shows the 'Quotes' page (P. 75) of the Reader's Digest Magazine October 08. Each quote includes 'home', from the first, by Dolly Parton, to the last, by Nancy Reagan.
Why was this so?
If the magazine's theme was meant to refer to 'homelessness' the front cover was totally in the other direction. It featured 4 self-made millionaires.
A picture on the front page showed Justin Herald - the entrepneur, who does not like being called that. He started with $ 50 and an attitude. Now he is worth 20 million. (The gentleman had crossed my path in Book 2, Ch. 23).
In the magazine's article about the four self-made millionaires was one, on page 45, which sounded real weird:
Titled, set your sights on where you're going (to page 75, Home ...perhaps?) Paul Counsel of Leederville, Western Australia, was transformed from potter/ceramics artist to multi-millionaire by waking up with this gem of wisdom: "Hang on, I want to be wealthy".
Little in Paul's rags to riches story made sense. One example: He first borrowed money to buy a house, next he had made 1 million Dollars in only 3 years and 8 months, on the stock market. Why borrow, when you have money to invest?
He and I, and all of us, have one thing in common. The final paragraph of the Reader's Digest article tells it in plain language: "My neighbours don't have a clue how much money I have", he (Counsel) says.
- - - - - - -
(Turning the calendar back to August 08)
In earlier books I had seen many drop-letters (the large letters at the beginning of chapters) and played with them. Another such encounter (as promised in the last chapter) must be mentioned:
I can't recall what came first, my discovery of the word NOW in my Bible, or Chuck Swindoll's radio program Inside For Living on August 13th 08. All I know, both are documented in my dairy around the same day.
During his daily broadcast Chuck Swindoll drew my attention to the letter K and the word Now. His theme on 13/8/08: NOW WE KNOW.
Browsing through the Old Testament one morning, around that time, I noticed that in my edition of the New King James version, many books begin with the word NOW, the N shown as a drop-letter.
Up to the Psalms 10 books out of a total 17, start with N (Now).
The rest of the Old Testament (excluding Psalm and Proverbs) has only two Books which start with the word NOW. The rest, a total of 12, start with the word THE. The two words go well together:
[THE =] HE (on) t WON [= NOW <<<]
The ONE dying on that middle cross, one day, will take centre stage in the world? THE time is NOW.
"Now we know that you know all things, and have no need that anyone should question you. By this we believe that you came forth from God".
(John 16, 30).
- - - - - - -
(Back to cycling - Gold Coast, New South Wales, Nov. 08).
Having to leave the cycling group posed a small dilemma. Where would I find a place to stay for the night? I had mistakenly assumed that it was schoolies week, where teenagers from all over come to the Gold Coast to celebrate, occupying all available accommodation.
However, at the Southport Caravan Park I learned that this event was happening a week later. I was able to rent a small, basic room. Just as well I did not attempt to pitch the tent. It rained again heavily that night.
(At the time of writing (late Dec. 08) storms on the Gold Coast are making national news).
Some of my gear was still damp when I packed it into my little trailer the next morning. On the news the weather still made headlines. A freak storm further north, near Rockhampton, had caused a huge damage bill. The name of the place was Blackwater, the postcode - I looked it up for this writing - 4717. (More postcode magic to come).
Gradually, the rain eased. This seemed to coincide with crossing the Queensland/New South Wales border. My friend the wind still came from the north. It pushed me south at a fast pace. I only stopped for ten minutes at Surfer's Paradise. One could not really visit this Mecca for national and overseas tourists, and not even get off the bicycle. Then again, how many visit by bicycle?
As I turned and looked back, from Coolangatta (or Tweed Heads) toward the skyscrapers of Surfer's Paradise, I was amazed at the distance I had covered in only 1 1/2 hours. Maybe, no definitely if God was willing, there would be a more extended visit at another time.
Byron Bay, my next stop to overnight, comes to mind for two reasons. One, actor Paul Hogan, the creator of Crocodile Dundee, owns a large property near this place. Two, a few kilometres to the east, at the lighthouse, is the most easterly point on the Australian mainland.
Byron Bay is a Mecca of a different kind. It attracts creativity - artists, writers, environmentalists, all those seeking an alternative lifestyle. The caravan park I stayed at was in the middle of town, almost, yet right on the beach. It was popular for young tourists. Many spoke German and travelled in hired campervans.
The rain stayed away just long enough to slip out for a little shopping. On the horizon, all around, I saw lightning in the distance. As soon as I had crawled in, and zipped up the tent, it started raining again. I still slept soundly, as I did every night.
The further south I cycled the more the weather improved, until Newcastle, anyway. In dry conditions, with the wind behind you, there is nothing like cruising on a flat country road, between green meadows and a blue river, flanked by fiery-red, aptly named flame trees. I had to stop and take a photo:
Flame trees in northern New South Wales
On the Maclean to Lawrence road
There were only a few places, where I could leave the busy Pacific Highway and cycle on quiet country roads. One of these was between Byron Bay and Ballina. At one place a sign directed cyclists away from the road to a bike-path, which I followed. It was very quiet, idyllic bike riding, at first.
But before I knew it I was pedalling through 1 foot deep water. A creek had flooded overnight. I kept going, not realizing that my shoes once more would be soaking wet. This was the first time I had cycled through a flood.
Lennox Head was, and still is, I'm sure, a lovely town. I say this for a reason. On entering, to my right, was a church with one of those signs, a message board out the front. They call it road-side pulpit. (At the church I attend it is my job to change the short messages regularly).
The sign at Lennox Head read: "No God, no Love - Know God, know love."
I loved it, both God and the sign. Within a few seconds to my left I loved something else. Two young ladies stood on the side of the road, outside a property, talking. One was leaning on crutches, the other had a large shopping bag over her arm. As I passed the pair I could make out, in big letters, the word L O V E on the bag.
The sun was shining brightly. I stopped near a small, wooden church to refill my water flask and to try and dry out my shoes and socks. The church door stood wide open, so I went inside and sat down for a few moments of meditation.
But the numbers out the front, the hymns to be sung, diverted my meditation somewhat. I could not help reading and memorizing them 132, 133, 108, 25, 126. Chewing up the miles on the road to Ballina and Maclean I had plenty of time to play with them [132 plus 1] = [108 plus 25] etc.
The sun was still shining as I rode into Ballina, a regional centre, beautifully situated on the estuary of the Richmond River, making Ballina actually an island.
While eating my pumpernickel bread and a what was left of my tin of ham, I took over the local children's playground. I unpacked my wet bedding and clothing and spread it out to dry.
Having a ball in a ...
... park in Ballina, drying wet camping gear.
The section from Byron Bay to Maclean was one of the longest I cycled in one day. Stopping to refuel (water, of course) at Little Italy I noticed a replica of Michelangelo's statue of David as part of the museum/gallery. I would have loved to spent more time exploring the place, one creative Italian's oasis in the forest.
But the road was calling. Not long after the brief refuel stop one of my trailer's wheels hit a bump in the road. Travelling at considerable speed I suddenly heard a scraping noise. I braked sharply. My trailer had overturned completely.
Everything looked intact, so I simply turned it back onto it's 'feet' and continued. (If I had a chance I would thank the person, who invented those elastic straps, the perfect tool to tie down loads on bicycles).
At a later stop I noticed how the wheel must have bent a little during the mishap. They did not look aligned. I bent it back. In hindsight, I should have considered that bending steel weakens it, and just left it. Days later it would break completely.
The 51 kilometre section from Woodburn, where I had stopped for food, was one where I had to take special care. The Pacific Highway on that part was still single-lane and some truck drivers didn't allow much safety margin. On the modern, rebuilt four-lane sections I had the emergency lane to myself, giving me a buffer zone to fast flowing traffic.
However, when a giant rig passed by at high speed, I noticed how the handlebar of my tiny giant, involuntarily pulled toward the truck. One Japanese cyclist was reported to have died in that manner, having been sucked in, literally, into an overtaking road-train on the Alice Springs road.
The second most useful tool, besides the elastic straps, was the rear-view mirror I had installed. I met another long distance cyclist on that road. How he managed without a mirror, I do not know.
Leaving Woodburn I had estimated that I would take approx. 2 1/2 hours to arrive at the caravan park at River Street, Maclean. I did, exactly. I was glad to having reached my third day's cycling this early, at 5. 45 PM.
What I heard next was nothing to be glad about. I had reason to be wild again, but refrained. The caretaker, a little, efficient looking lady, told me they don't cater for tents. Did I hear correctly, a caravan park with no room for a small two-men tent?
I saw plenty of green grass, but these were spaces in between holiday cabins, not for erecting a tent on. I did not warm to the idea of continuing another 30 km, after having pedalled over 100 already. I felt like Josef in Bethlehem and similar to Southport earlier that week. Except there was no stable or alternative caravan park nearby.
After a few minutes wait, she may have wanted me to get back on my saddle, the lady suggested a space behind the shower block, just big enough for my small tent. I had little choice, having determined to not pay big money (the only other option) for accommodation on this trip.
It turned out a wonderfully warm, calm evening. A delicious meal at the nearby hotel and a stroll through Maclean, window-shopping, was just the right relaxation therapy.
Real Estate Agent's window, Maclean, NSW
229 River Street.
Four properties for sale - $315 000, $1,350,000, $470 000 and $ 199,000 (at Townsend).
But the one I really liked to purchase was priceless - the baby with the rose.
In a strange little twist, one of the agent's names was Anderson. During writing these paragraphs, only a few hours prior to scanning above, I had occasion to send an email to another ... person, called Anderson, read on).
Usually I phoned home almost every evening. For various reasons I did not carry a mobile phone and was pleasantly surprised that most public telephones were in working order. My wife followed my progress with interest. At the same time, having been married for so long to a complex, creative, sees-magic-everywhere German, she most likely enjoyed the break as much as I did.
(Just a thought - the three real positive letters N A G, as verb change their meaning to a negative).
The next morning I again was lapping it up; 30 kilometres of bliss, on a quiet country road, a gentle tail wind, riding along, feasting my eyes on lush green meadows, grazing cows, beside wide, blue rivers flanked by red flame trees.
Just before the village of Lawrence I crossed the Clarence River on one of those drive on - drive off ferry vehicles. The only difference, I was thinking as I contemplated the scene, would be the modern shape of the motor-vehicles on the punt. Otherwise, this could be a scene from 50 years ago.
I stopped at a park, right beside the river for morning tea; coffee with strawberry cheesecake, which I shared with a friendly worker, who was having a break from his job, reading electricity meters. It ain't get better than this, I thought.
At Grafton I contacted a distant relative. Even though ...
Isn't this weird? A few minutes ago (at about 7.45 AM - 31/12/08) I tuned the radio to Cruise 1323. At 7.51 AM, at the same second I typed the words "Even though" a female voice started a song with the words "Even though ..."
Am I just imagining things? Hearing words, because I am typing the words?
Mr. Google helped me out. I typed the often-repeated lyrics (I miss you like crazy) into the search engine. The result was this song by Natalie Cole:
"Even though its been so long, my love for you keeps going strong
I remember the things that we used to do, a kiss in the rain
Til the sun shined through, Id try to deny it, but I'm still in love with you
I miss you like crazy, I miss you like crazy, ever since you went away ...
... I am not crazy, hearing things, after all. (Now I am trying to remember what I was going to write after 'Even though' before this distraction ... Sorry, but it slipped my mind.
My wife's brother's wife's sister (I said distant relative) lives in Grafton. Strangely enough, even though (aha ... !) we share the same surname Fischer, we are only related by marriage (My wife's brother also married a lady, whose surname was Fischer).
We had a brief chat on the telephone, as distant relatives would, but did not meet in person.
- - - - - - -
My Camping ground on Nov. 21, 08.
The location of my tent is exactly, where the word ' Rec. Hall' is on the map. Aha... Re C IT ALL.
Later I noticed that it's right between 3rd and 5th Avenue. A week later it clicked, why I may have paid only $ 10 camping fee, despite the quality of the place - (Pool, Tennis Courts etc).
Somebody knew my 3 5 10 code!
- - - - - - -
Approaching the Big Banana City of Coffs Harbour, to my right, was a large billboard - Meet you outside the Coffee Club at The Park. It's not that I get sucked in by advertisements, but this one, maybe?
The Park shopping plaza was right on my route. I needed to do some shopping so I entered the car park. As a pleasant surprise even the banks were open this Saturday morning, November 22nd. I needed a bank open.
There was something going on; a section of the large car park was cordoned off. By the distinct yellow/red colour-scheme I could tell the event had to do with the Surf Life Saving Association. I took a photo. Their march passed right outside the bank, causing quite a noise inside, as I stood at the teller.
I spent a considerable time withdrawing my cash. There was a problem, I was informed, with the computer system. (I imagined that the ladies just liked to give special attention to customers arriving by bicycle, especially those pulling a trailer for hundreds of kilometres).
Armed with some cash I exited the bank and, voila, the Coffee Club was very conveniently located, almost next door. The place was crowded. As I sipped my Flat White, having resisted the temptation to indulge in another cake, I just sat and watched. One holiday experience I enjoy, one which sticks in your memory, is when you just sit in one place, no matter where, and do nothing; just pause to enjoy the moment. (It's easier with cash in your pocket).
As I was about to leave I noticed that a number of Surf Life Savers had sat on a small table by the entrance. Before moving on I stopped and briefly mentioned to the three men about my friend in an Adelaide jail.
"He also was a Surf Life Saving Coach. Now he is serving a long jail term." I told them the one minute version of my sad story.
There was little reaction. I used to think people don't believe me, when I speak about it. That Saturday I had a feeling that they all knew exactly what I was on about. The internet knows no barriers.
We chatted a little longer, about my trip. One gentlemen took a special interest, giving me clear directions to find the cycleway to the next town. To my surprise, about 1/2 hour later beside the cycle path, a man stopped me. He had driven ten kilometres or so, to ensure I had found my way. He was one of the Lifesavers at the Coffee Club. He said his name was Peter.
Only on scanning did I amaze myself seeing the similarity in the colours in these two photos (taken 50 kilometres apart).
Perfect colour matches - the shirts and hats with the painted rocks; even the flag and the water and sky!
Top: Minutes after taking above photo I recognized the first and fifth person (from right to left) in the Coffee Shop. The big man, fifth from the right) drove some distance to ensure I had found my way. His name was Peter, like that of another Surf Life Saving coach.
Bottom: The V-Wall at Nambucca Heads. I never found out what the V stands for, perhaps Visitor's (Wall). Visitors from all over paint a message, or whatever, on walls of rock totalling 500 metres. The main wall, a breakwater, shown above, is L-shaped.
I found some uplifting messages on that wall, not like the usual, crude graffiti:
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Why not? Love the world.
Let Jesus be your God!
- - - - - - -
It was now a week into my holiday. At Nambucca Heads, a rather hilly place with excellent views over a beautiful estuary, I did some washing, including underpants. The wind was good for drying, but too strong for one tent pole; it snapped. Luckily, I carried strong tape with me; the damage was repaired quickly.
It was the day before Sunday. So I spent the evening on Saturday looking, where to worship the next morning. Sunset was magic. I watched it from the famous V-Wall, a tourist attraction, where visitors can leave a message, whatever, in all kinds of colours, symbols and words. I especially went back to fetch my camera to snap above photo.
The Anglican Church, a large contemporary brick structure, was the only suitable place of worship I had found. For a small place like Nambucca Heads ... (Population 5000, distance to Sydney 513 km, Source: Random House Motoring Guide).... it was rather well attended.
I sat in the fifth row. Just before the service started, a lady, who was to give a talk at the very end, sat beside me. Her name was Estelle. My diary says, I felt rather comfortable, but it did not explain why. Was it because a strange lady chose to sit beside me, or the songs we were singing?
The songs, most definitely. One stood out, an old favourite from my Assemblies of God days, "HE is Lord, He is risen ...". Only much later did I learn the church was called Christ The King.
Again I noticed all, no sorry, one mistake they made. A hymn was announced as No. 222. On the board it was shown as No. 220. But it did not matter. Later, during her talk, Estelle quoted James Chapter 2, Verse 8. I just placed the extra 2 in front and squared it all up - voila, 228.
What followed, the weird links my brain made later that day, is almost too far fetched, but the numbers add up - the digits 228 and won (or 1).
I was all packed up and resumed my cycle-tour, leaving the caravan park at approx. 11 AM, give or take 5. The weather had brought a southerly change, bringing cooler temperatures. The wind would no longer be my friend, not a close friend, anyway.
During that Sunday I probably thought more of home, imagining the comfortable lounge, putting my feet up and watching a nice movie. Of course, one could not compare the two, and it all depends on the movie.
What I saw that afternoon near Warrell Creek (Postcode 2447 - not to be confused with Wardell Postcode 2477), teased me tremendously, after having that morning created 228).
Near Warrell Creek the Pacific Highway came close to a railway line. I suddenly looked and noticed a goods train slowly rolling among the green meadows. I noted various company logos on the carriages. Two I remembered for my diary - CFL and TOLL.
There were two engines pulling the train. But why did the second carriage have a huge number on the side, while the first carriage had none?
For shooting a photo I was too slow. Instead, I later drew this sketch into my diary:
Text: At Wardell Creek* I was close to railway line, saw train - Only 2nd engine had number - 228 won !
*Note how I initially also made the mistake, mixing up Warrell with Wardell . (Hey - my initials - d r ?)
During yesterday's writing I surfed across a website, where the same mistake appeared. I emailed the person ... Mr. Anderson).
Moments ago, after scanning the above, I had doubts as to what on earth am I linking here ...!?
Then, for the first time I added 81 + 22 = 103.
Now that made sense, backwards; like the word NOW makes sense, when read backwards!
Hey, now I see another link - the lady at church, right next to me - Est el.le (Le L T (is) it) ...
.... and Warrell - the war (of the) L.
Just before the final editing this came:
The symbolic difference in Warrell Creek 2447 and Wardell 2477:
30 = X X X (3 Crosses)
After incredible thoughts like these, I wished I was writing fiction. But IT is for real.
- - - - - - -
Isn't this amazing? At this point in my writing I ate lunch. The TV was tuned to the National Press Club, Canberra. But I did not want to listen to the Managing Director of the ABC. (He had ignored my plea for help in the innocent prisoner case).
I changed the TV to Dr. Phil. Seconds later, I just finished eating, I heard him say: "When we come back we hear from Natalie Cole".
This must be the same lady I already had magic with, during this morning's writing, on Radio Cruise 1323?
It was. She sang on Dr. Phil from her album "Still unforgettable". Hitman David Forster was featured on this Dr. Phil Show. (Natalie Cole is the daughter of Nat King Cole).
- - - - - - -
Had I listened to the sceptics I would not have travelled so close to summer - it's too hot, one said. The same one, a truck driver, thought "I could get run over by ... and all the road works on the Pacific Highway ...!"
If anything, the weather was on the cool side that Sunday. Secondly, it's true, staying home is safer than riding a bicycle. The safest option is to stay home in bed, right?
Wrong! (Statistically, bed is the most dangerous place to be, since 96.3 percent (approx) of deaths occur in bed - just kidding).
Jokes aside, the section of the Pacific Highway I was about to travel on, had a history of tragedy. Near the Smithtown turn-off the highway is still only single lane. Just near this junction I stopped at a road side memorial park, which was especially erected to remember the victims of one of Australia's worst road traffic accidents, if not the worst. My mind went back almost 20 years:
We had just arrived from Adelaide, staying a few short kilometres away at Hat Head for our holiday. The news the next morning was dominated, and would be for days to come, by a horrible collision between two interstate coaches.
The tragedy had occurred on the Pacific Highway, just a few kilometres away, near Clybucca, at a locality called Seven Oakes. The driver of a southbound coach, it was later found, had fallen asleep on a left hand bend, and veered onto the wrong side. Another interstate coach, travelling north from Sydney toward Brisbane, had no chance to avoid the frontal collision.
Both drivers died instantly. Altogether 35 people lost their lives that fateful night just before Christmas in 1989. Another 41 were injured.
I had looked forward to spending two nights at the shack at Hat Head. The place held many fond memories of earlier holidays, both with Isobel's family and later with our own children. It certainly did not feel like it, but it had been almost three years since Jon and I stayed here for a brief visit (read on).
The shack would be a good place for more washing and minor repairs. But this was not to be. What happened next was the least I expected. Only one key, the one to the flyscreen door, worked correctly. The key to the main *front door ...
... as I wrote this, deep inside my brain, I recalled that this front door had received a mention before:
Excerpt Book 5, Chapter 28:
The next day, another weird discovery, again with the date to match. Jon thought it was crazy to even think about it. As we were having breakfast, watching television, I looked and counted the window panes of the large window above the TV. There were 9. The main entrance door right beside it, consisted of 11 individual window panes. The date happened to be 1/19*, if you allow me to write it US style. (TV can't have been too interesting, when I found more fun in counting window panes).
(Interesting, the date of publishing this will be 1/1/09)
... the door with the 11 individual window panes, did not open. As hard as I tried, it felt like the door was dead-locked from the inside. I tried everything for about 1/2 hour, pulling, twisting, banging. The key started bending. The last thing I wanted a broken key inside the lock. I even contemplated entering through a window. I knew this wouldn't get me anywhere, except in trouble with neighbours and/or police.
I phoned Isobel from the public phone, just across the road. She contacted her brothers, the two who use the place regularly. Both lived only 500 or so kilometres away.
(Had I thought about it, Isobel's brother's would have been as useful as the road sign, which allegedly exists somewhere in outback Australia: Emergency telephone - 175 kilometers ahead).
When I phoned Isobel back later her brother's advise: "Try and pull the door a bit, as you turn the key".
Ha, ha! What else had I done for the past half-hour? At the time I felt upset. Yet, maybe this was a divine incident? Maybe, I will never know why?
It became clear that I would not be staying at the family shack that evening. Luckily, the small town had a caravan park straight down the road, at the end of Straight Street. It is beautifully situated at the bottom of Hat Head Hill, where the creek enters the ocean, right on the southern end of the 15 kilometre long beach.
Plus the weather had settled, no rain. Worse things could have happened. I had nothing to complain about.
As the next morning dawned the weather was perfect. I seriously considered staying another night, since I had originally planned a rest day in Hat Head. I took my time rising and having breakfast. Had I been a fisherman I might have filled in the day trying my luck in the water. To just sit under a tree, for a relaxing day's reading, sounded appealing, but I did not have a comfortable chair to recline in. I decided to take a long walk, before moving on.
I knew the place well. I crossed the wooden footbridge and walked over to The Gap (same name as the devastated suburb of Brisbane), back over the bridge, along the riverbank of Korogoro Creek and through Hat Head village and back via the beach. I resisted the temptation to again try the key in the door with 11 glass panels.
A tall, old man was walking his little dog, Jack, in Creek Street. We started chatting. A long-time Hat Head resident, Len, remembered my late father-in-law, Charles Newton. Around 1943 they had both worked at the Nestlé's factory in Smithtown, 12 kilometres inland.
Around that time my father-in law had built his house on Straight Street. Len also remembered Isobel's two older brothers, who stay at the house regularly.
Hat Head Creek, officially called Korogoro Creek.
One of my fondest memories of my early days in Australia - drifting along in this creek in the home-made, plywood canoe Isobel's brothers had built, and devouring an old Reader's Digest Magazine.
This was around 1970 BC (before codes).
Compared to the distances I had cycled it was only a short stretch from Hat Head to Port Macquarie. The caravan park I stayed at, had a camp kitchen, for travellers like me. A refrigerator, a kettle for hot water, a TV (reception permitting) all made life so much more pleasant. (Hat Head also had camp kitchen, it was much smaller).
The location was very picturesque, with extensive views across the Hastings River. Being off-season I had the place mostly to myself.
The weather turned overcast again, with the occasional shower. For dinner I again ate a tin of ham and pumpernickel bread. Later I ventured the few kilometers into Port Macquarie, strolled around the shops, phoned home and wheeled my bike along path by the harbour.
The ancient sailing ship, anchored at Lady Nelson Wharf was the Alma Doepel, built in Bellingen, Northern New South Wales in 1903 by Frederick Doepel.
The name sounds German, but please, nobody read it as L - Dope! But hey - I just noticed on final editing - look at Alma !
He named it after his daughter Alma. In 1917 the square-rigged, most significant sailing vessel, was sold to Henry Jones IXL, Hobart and served between Melbourne and Hobart until 1959, completing 578 Bass Straight crossings.
(I mention this, because I used to work for IXL Hobart in the mid 1970's).
Picture and Info: Greater Port Macquarie Tourist Info Website
Outside a church on a hill a sign read in large letters: Healing Service Tuesdays 5.15 PM. It was Monday. Since I would be leaving again in the morning, there was no point in me even thinking of attending.
The next morning, however, having forgotten all about the Healing Service, I changed plans. I had been cycling every day for a week. Since I did not have my rest day at Hat Head, this day (Tuesday) would be my rest day. I decided to stay another night in this large tourist town.
Cycling around the busy city, I checked out the big, modern library. I found no German magazines.
(At the Brisbane Library, eight days earlier, I had actually found a stack of Der Spiegel. I even found the edition with the front cover - Als Jesus noch ein Guru war - I placed it right at the top of the pile.
Back in Port Macquarie I sent an email home from a small, crowded internet cafe. (It never got there). During a ride the nearby Lighthouse, at Tacking Point, I remembered suddenly that since I was staying another night, I could actually attend the Healing Service at 5.15 PM. So I did.
The ancient building, the fifth oldest, still used, Anglican Parish Church was called St. Thomas. Judging by the small flock assembled, Port Macquarie must be a very healthy town. There were only about 1/2 dozen parishioners attending this service, including the Rev'd Canon, the organist and another clergyman.
The seating was old-style, wooden benches, framed by high timber boxes. To enter I had to first open a door. I was thinking that for a short person it would be impossible to see over top to the altar. During a boring sermon one could secretly read the newspaper. The preacher at the front would not see it. The possibilities are endless for worshipping inside a little box seat, especially right at the back.
After the singing and praise the Reverend asked: "Anybody who has a testimony of healing, please come forward and share it". This was an unusual request, I thought. Did the gentleman not know that public speaking is man's greatest fear? It would take a brave soul to just ...
... But this is what I did. I had a story, which fitted perfectly into the theme. I walked out, hesitating to go right up to the microphone. Why a microphone for 6 people? Still, I was motioned to proceed to it. (Perhaps, as happens these days, the service may have been recorded?)
I told the people how my daughter-in-law earlier in the year was diagnosed with cancer, lymphoma, and what a shock it had been to her and my son. They were not attending church, but I knew God could heal her anyway. Does it not say in James, Chapter 5, Verse 15 ...
(... aha, a question just came: Was this the reason for the 5.15 starting time?)
... that God is willing to heal and forgive our sin? We prayed for her every day. The latest news is that the cancer has cleared, only one final chemo-therapy before Christmas...
Of course, it can never be proven if prayer made a difference to the healing process. Faith does not need proof. Faith knows deep down that God is real and all, including the medical profession with its latest technology and treatments, are dependent on HIM.
God is the Victor over all. This is why I don't understand one aspect of the Anglican Service. I had noticed this only two days earlier at Nambucca Heads, and on the odd occasion, when I watched the 'Mass For You at Home' on Channel Ten television: Why does every service include a mass-confession of sin?
There is nothing wrong with confessing your sin, if indeed you knowingly did something, which is on your conscience. But an individual must himself or herself come to this realization first, then genuinely confess it.
If it is the same sin he or she feels guilty about, week after week, then it should be dealt with in earnest, not simply confessed away in a mass prayer every Sunday.
Where is the victory over sin, if 52 times a year, 520 times in ten years you have confess to God ... we have sinned ... in thought ... in word ... and deed ... and in what we have failed to do ...?
I doubt the value of repentance, if simply spoken as a mass prayer. For the same reason I have reservations when a preacher, after a well intended sermon, calls people forward and starts a mass prayer with: "Repeat after me..." Yes many have started the faith walk this way, but the emphasis is on started ...!
True repentance requires a thought process, which an individual must go through, deep inside, with conviction. Honest confession must therefore be specific. A serious intention to turn around, to walk the better way, has a better chance of success, if another believer is involved. (This does not have to be a professional).
True repentance is the start of an adventure, a new beginning with God. Why then the need to start a new journey every Sunday? Is it not an admission that last week's launch has failed?
Tacking Point Lighthouse near Port Macquarie.
If reform is called for in the church, let it be in this area, not in fundamentals, laid down by scripture. (E.g. gay clergy, women bishops).
The starting time of the Healing Service may or may not refer to James 5, 15. But allow me to link the finish time 18.00 hours to a scripture.
The 1st Verse in Romans 8:
"There is therefore NOW no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."
There is more - Romans 8, 15 (how well do the numbers fit here!)
"For you did not receive the Spirit of bondage ..."
The message of freedom in Christ continues:
Verse 21: "... delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God".
Verse 37: "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us".
Still more good news: The Apostle Paul's message was written to new converts in Rome, almost two thousand years ago.
Yet, this declaration of liberty, real freedom in Christ Jesus, applies to all of us - NOW.