Chapter 15 HOME
Written / Published 5.11/15.11.19 (Pics by author, unless indicated
Precision timing has been the reason for much of the magic I see and write about. This chapter holds many stories which would be nothing without it.
The year 2019 so far has brought many wildfires, both in California and on Australia's East Coast, where they are still burning as I write.
The name David, like that of the biblical hero, follows us all day one Sunday. Two daily bible readings come in amazing timing. And football is back. A photo in the stadium provided much fun for one who loves numbers.
At the end we shall take a short trip to South Australia's Riverland and smell the roses. (Please note, events are not written in chronological order, one reason I state the dates.)
"He has made everything beautiful in HIS time." (Ecclesiastes 3, 11).
15. Just a Touch
Seventy fires were burning in NSW as I commenced this chapter on 5.11 anno 2019. In many places along the East Coast of Australia bush fires caused great concern over the past few weeks; and summer had not even started yet. "There always have been bushfires", many will say. But what has been unfolding in November 2019 was unprecedented.
The situation in New South Wales is so serious, authorities declared the highest classification - catastrophic - for the greater Sydney area and other places. It's the first time ever that conditions warranted this level of alert. Serious danger warnings were given from areas south of Sydney and areas to the north reaching right into Queensland. Strong winds, high temperatures and very low humidity were expected in those areas.
Hundreds of schools were closed as precaution. Public transport had been suspended in some districts. Thousands of firefighters, some arriving as far away as New Zealand were working tirelessly to fight the battle against the brute forces of nature.
This was happening as I wrote on November 12th, 2019. Wasn't this a time when every Australian, those affected by the fires and those watching the tragedy on television, ought to bow to Almighty God and plead for protection and for rains to fall again?
Instead, an email arrived that very same day from the longest serving Member of the New South Wales Parliament, the Reverend Fred Nile. The gentleman is in my opinion the most influential Christian voice of any politician in our country. His email alerted readers to a proposal by the Greens Party to abolish the Lord's Prayer in Parliament:
Fred Nile in his email states clearly, why this move, which has failed twice before, should not succeed this time. He expressed it very convincingly, speaking as a Revered and politician. In my opinion, not only was this the worst time to launch this proposal, it's an arrogant declaration of independence, an insult to the creator. Nobody slaps God in the face without serious repercussion.
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The year 2019 has been especially bad for wildfires also in California. On various news reports the locations of Sonoma and Riverside were mentioned. The latter holds memories of a lonely journey I undertook back in 2003; one full of pain and confusion.
Sonoma got a mention only a few chapters back, after my son and I had cycled through the county from north to south. It holds memories of beauty and achievement through the strength and grace of God. With God a life of sorrow can turn into splendour, bafflement turns into beauty.
On Sunday 10.11.19 a warning appeared on TV, Channel Seven:
Within an hour or so, after taking above photo, I sat in church. My wife was not with me, still recovering from a cold. For this reason I sat on the far right of the auditorium with a friend, surname Main. (Feel free to create an anagram or two!) It may well have been at 10.06 that I noticed that I actually sat right next to a banner, displayed on the church wall.
I suddenly saw some letters on that banner, which I had never noticed before in the ten years attending there. That's weird, I thought, looking at the letters SON on the maroon colour of the flag. Later in the service I discreetly took this photo:
That morning I had walked into church and was greeted by a brother, giving the 'Salvation Army salute': Hand raised and pointing the index finger upwards. It signifies that we are on a journey to heaven and will do all we can to take others with us.
Being a German who likes to make a joke, I raised my right arm, pointing upward. My jovial greeting, long detested, used to be accompanied by the words "Hail H..." A few minutes later, waiting for the service to start, the band played a tune. I recognized it immediately and knew that the lyrics of 'Crown HIM with many crowns' include the word hail a few times:
The generation of my parents were forced raise their right arm to hail an evil man, who died after leading millions of people to their death. The above hymn is about another man, the SON of Man, who showed the way to salvation. HE died so that mankind would live for all eternity. He gently invites all to follow HIM, willingly, to share love and peace with HIM, forever. HE is the ONE deity that deserves to be hailed.
The theme in church that morning was 'The significance of ONE'. The preacher elaborated, how one word, good or bad, can have far reaching consequences. One person, obedient to the call of God, can literally chance the world, far beyond ordinary human endeavor.
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Two Sundays earlier, on October 27th 2019, I also went to church on my own. My wife had stayed home, because of her developing cold. The sermon that morning was around the theme of sowing and reaping. The preacher used the tragic story of David and Svea Flood as illustration. (Unusual name Svea Flood) I was astounded as I saw the name David. (Read on).
The young couple had very little success in mixing with the locals. They only managed one convert, a little boy, who came every so often from a nearby village to sell them eggs and local produce. Sadly, Svea was pregnant, suffered with malaria. After giving birth to a little girl named Aggie, she died at only 27 years of age. David was shattered. He blamed God for his misfortune. He chose to return to Sweden without little Aggie, a bitter man.
Little Aggie was adopted by an American family. As she was searching for her birth father, decades later, Aggie met a preacher from Zaire, formerly Congo. To her amazement, this man told her how he had come to the Lord through a little village boy. It was that same one her parents had bought eggs from, who became their only convert back then. A church had started up all those years ago and was still thriving.Friends, that's how I view my writing, like a seed that bears fruit, whenever, wherever I may never know.
So, why was I so astounded seeing the name David on that church screen? My encounter with the name David had started early that morning. I had felt an urge to send a text to a lady, who I had spoken to during the week. Her husband had some bad news regarding his health. There was no connection to our church. I didn't know any details, not even her husband's name, who I had never met.
The inner voice I hear so often, the urge, was to ask for her husband's name, so I could pray for him in church. But why bother with a name, another part of me asked, just pray for him anyway? Looking back I'm glad I sent the text and found out his name. It was David.
Normally my wife and I stay for coffee at the end of church. That morning I went home and had one with her instead. There was still time to watch part of the BBC's Songs of Praise broadcast. Moments after tuning in came this:
But there was more; that's why I can't help writing about it. At the end of the day I usually read two devotionals, Our Daily Bread and The Word for Today. As I was reflecting on the day that had passed, reading Our Daily Bread, I was wondering, how weird it would be, if the name David were to appear once again? It didn't.
Readers may think I was trying to create my own timely magic. I didn't. But it came just after I opened the second devotional that evening. (The date was October 27th). There it was, the name David. Take a look:
"You Have A Right To Shout!"
Since the Psalms are a popular source for any devotional, I wondered how common was the name David in The Word for Today? Perhaps I was making a big deal out of nothing? I counted how many times the name David appeared in the three-months booklet - 13 times.
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In Chapter 6 I had written about the war that is raging again men; that men can get into trouble by merely touching a child etc. The following incident, which took place recently is also about a touch, a friendly gesture that was followed by a touch of magic:
That morning I was sitting to the left of MC, who I think had started the teasing originally. As I put my right hand on his shoulder, he reacted as if I had inflicted some pain. I was unsure, if he was joking or serious, as he expressed his displeasure at the touch with my right hand.
The next morning, on October 24th, I received a text message from MC. He apologized for the incident. Here is the screenshot of two messages we exchanged:
That same evening, 12 hours later, I was reading that day's meditation from Our Daily Bread. It could not have been more fitting after above incident. After I opened the page and saw it, it felt like a supernatural touch, an epiphany. Judge for yourself, had it happened to you, would you just dismiss it all as co-incident?
Our Daily Bread 24th October 2019
Just a Touch
One month and twenty days earlier, on September 4th 2019, I was giving the same person, my friend MC, a ride in my Suzuki. (It was the first and only time so far that I had done so). He had previously been very generous, presenting me for no reason with a handmade gift of his wooden artwork. He's a master craftsman with wood. I wanted to repay him and had asked repeatedly to accept something in return. But my offers, like taking him out for a meal, always were refused.
As we were driving along that Wednesday morning 4.9. I probed a little further, as to why he's not accepting any of my offers. MC explained the reason: "I don't feel worthy of anything! I'm not good enough!"
If you're waiting, my friend, until you're good enough, it will never happen! Because no one is good enough, only Jesus, all need to accept HIS salvation, which is like putting on fresh clothes. The bible calls it 'the robe of righteousness' (Isaiah, 61.10).
This makes even the greatest sinner worthy to receive gifts, especially God's blessings like love, joy, health and peace; most of all, eternal life thereafter. What an offer! Who would reject it?
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Cooper Stadium, Hindmarsh
The above (cropped) picture indicates that the new football season has started. I took it on the same Sunday, on 10.11.19, the day the theme in church had been 'the Significance of One'. Perhaps the preacher had chosen this, because the date included four ones? Whatever! The result that evening matched the date (10th) as well as the ONE theme in church - 1:0.
Above photo was the only one I took that night. I only remembered toward the end, just before the winning goal was scored that I had not taken any pictures yet. Later, looking at it more closely, I noticed something odd - the players numbers 1 5 11. Now you may realize, why I inserted 19 on the far right, beside player No.20?
But there was more, something peculiar about player No. 20 on the right! He only came on around the 60 minute mark in place of No.9. My numbers brain kicked in - could it be...? It was. I saw i t.
It so happened, another soccer player carrying jersey No.20 is making headline news as I type this paragraph. Australia's No.20 women's international Sam Kerr is reported to have signed up with London Club Chelsea, becoming the highest paid female footballer in the world. More than that, only two days prior, on 12.11.19 the Matilda striker had played in a friendly match right here in Adelaide against Chile. The Aussie girls also won 1:0.
More peculiar soccer fact needs mentioning. Adelaide in 2019 won the FFA (Football Federation Australia) Cup Final for the third time. Out of 736 teams, from all levels all over the nation, only two were left to battle it out on October 23rd - Adelaide United and Melbourne City FC. The defending champions won convincingly at Hindmarsh 4 0.
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Tree down in our street
For a few days at the end of October I noticed that a tree had fallen at the bottom of our street, about 150 meters away. It lay there for a number of days. As I cycled by many times, it looked as if a vehicle had mounted the footpath and mowed it down. Perhaps the driver was exiting the hotel, just across the road, and was DUI? (DUI means Driving Under the Influence - nothing to do with You or I... at least not I, ha ha.)
Now I'm glad the tree didn't get removed straight away, otherwise I could not have taken above picture on November 2nd:
Here's the reason: The song played at the time was one by the late Peter Alexander, a popular Austrian singer and actor. The song goes back to the late 50's. They lyrics are about 'good old dad' who fixes things when they go wrong. A leaking bathtub, his boy in trouble with the police, the wife burning the dinner etc. are no trouble for Papa: He'll fix it all.
The moment I drove past the above tree, the end of this verse came out of the CD player:
The Chorus went like this, broadly translated:
A tree got in the way, I found most amusing - perfect lyrics at the perfect place at the perfect time! How lucky are we to have our Heavenly Father, who makes all things beautiful - in HIS (perfect) time!
How times have changed since 'the good old days', when Papa was the source of information and fixed things that went wrong.
Today, as convenient as IT is, good old Papa has been outmoded by the tech giants. Children and women don't need good old Papa any more, all there is to know, plenty of friends to ask, any problem that needs fixing is literally at their fingertips!
How sad that as the calendar rapidly approaches 2020, our Heavenly Papa, God the Father, is gradually being made obsolete! The world is looking for answers in all the wrong places. The popular slogan 'Yes, we can' never explained what it is, what political, human power can do.
Despite all the technology, all the knowledge in the world, all the comforts this generation possesses, the news is still full of war, murder, theft etc.
Scientists, politicians, even religion can't solve the problem of the sinful human, nature. God can and did it. HE is able.
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As strange as it sounded then, so does my next linking thought. Clouds are mentioned regularly, both in the Old and New Testament:
In the very last Book of the Bible John had a vision. His book, Revelations, is all about the Son of God, who died and rose from the dead. HE has won the victory and is coming to take us out of this world to reign with HIM forever. Trust HIM, HE is able to do what HE promised.
End of Book 17. Continue to Book 18