61. The unlikely hero
A book on our bookshelf titled “Martin Luther had a wife” describes the successful and not-so-successful marriages of famous Christians. The famous German reformer, so it sounds like, had a similar wife to my Isobel. Underneath her quiet, melancholic personality occasionally a brilliant sense of humour emerged:
We had called a plumber to unblock a drain. The poor chap worked 1 ½ hours one Saturday morning and could not get the water flowing. We agreed to still pay his $ 50 fee. When Isobel sent the cheque in an envelope, she stuck a little Christian sticker on the outside with the message: “Jesus never fails”.
In February 03 during a driving lesson I spotted a vehicle that I had not seen in years. I still recognized it by its registration number. It was the same one that I recognized two years earlier on Main North Road (see Chapter 20). The feeling of being watched and tested came over me. When I got home I dialled the owner’s number, the same one I did back then. The answer machine took the call. In a way I was glad, feeling a little tired of playing the fool who just rings up people for no tangible reason. I left a short message on the answer machine, saying that I had seen the car today and wondered how everyone was going.
A few days later I received a phone call from a salesman. He wanted me to agree to a trial of their spring water. The initial offer was only $ 4 for 10 litres home delivered. He gave the name of the company as: ‘Never Fails Spring Water’. I had an odd feeling about the salesman’s voice; it was strangely personal in a way. Had this call anything to do with the vehicle I spotted? There was no listing under Never Fails. I passed the buck and said: “If I accepted your offer my wife would kill me” (or similar). Isobel was very careful with money, but never mean or stingy.
I was regularly amused when Isobel reported certain incidents that I could link to some of my writing. She drove into the car park at the tax agent’s office just at the same time as the Manager did. Her simple greeting, perfect timing, could have been straight out of chapter 53 of my book.
Coming home from picking Jon up from school, Isobel asked me: “Who would I contact to complain about people doing U-Turns at the end of Goodall Road?” She was inconvenienced that afternoon and was running late. I advised her to ring the Department of Transport, hardly concealing the grin on my face.
How funny, I thought, that she was going to stop people from doing U-Turns, while I was passionately pursuing my mission to convince people to do just that. She still was totally unaware of anything unusual happening in our lives. I had been convinced long ago that apart from God somebody else kept an eye on us. I didn’t know who or why, but just accepted facts and took in events, such as someone doing an unusual U-Turn in May last year.
I dropped two German girls, who had been staying with us for a week, into Adelaide to catch their bus to Melbourne. It was a great opportunity, so I took a morning stroll in the fresh air of our beautiful city. For a break I sat on the steps of the Adelaide’s Magistrate’s Court at Victoria Square. I just sat, sang to myself and quietly prayed for Peter Liddy, the magistrate in jail. A small four-wheel drive van pulled into the kerb opposite. It had the signage of a popular Adelaide radio station all over it. The driver looked at me for a moment, then did a U-Turn and went his way.
A similar incident took place early in 2003 as I took our little Fox Terrier for her regular walk around the suburbs near our place. A car slowed, glanced at me and did a U-Turn in a most unusual spot. I was not afraid of anyone any longer. I sensed there were forces rallying around and behind me, which gave me great comfort and encouragement. I am well aware that uploading my story online for all to read can rob us of our privacy; especially when a major part of the story revolves around our specific location.
Vehicles doing blatant U-Turns near our driving school vehicle on a lesson or near our house happened very often. At times the vehicles featured special registration number plates. It was impossible for me to miss it. Once I even spotted an early model Mercedes Benz with the number plate …350 at the front and …351 at the rear. How could this be?
The doubts about my course of action diminished (almost) completely after the Columbia Space Shuttle incident. In an subtle show of support some friendly ally, placed a small box of pencils onto a desk I was sitting for a short time, while chairing a meeting. The brand name was “Columbia”. Bus stop advertising became of very popular source for messages that I linked to my story. I had no doubt about it. To my mind a large sign: “No Exit fees” means something. One was placed at an appropriate location chosen to go with the message.
One afternoon I watched a TV repeat of Dateline, a current affairs program on SBS, the Special Broadcasting Service servicing the multi-cultural community in Australia. Often I only caught glimpses as I walked past the TV on the way to my office. I believe God arranged it on many occasions that I would see just what he wanted me to see. At lunchtime one day I spotted the subtitled name Rich T… of the H… Foundation, Washington DC. The name of my family doctor (not the one that died) is Richard T…
Because this particular person being interview was an expert in media affairs I searched him out on the internet and emailed:
Dear Mr. T...,
I watched you on TV in Australia recently. Your name is the same as that of my (GP) doctor; this is one reason I had to email you. I have a specific question to ask, because you are a media expert:
Is it possible that the media would play games with a member of the public, by giving this person coded messages? In the past year and a half I have experienced just that. I would send a (provocative or controversial email) to our Newspaper and read the next day, or later a headline that I could relate directly to my email.
People like me are the bread and butter of psychiatrists. But you see, I am no longer seeing one or indeed take any tablets. Still my condition is always present. Can you make any sense of that?
It really boils down to - Either yes, the media likes playing a little game with me, or I have an unusual condition that links headlines with my personal day to day events. Either way I am having great fun.
PS Time permitting, you may read my life story on www.dieterfischer.com
There is no reason to doubt the email reached its destination. I was not expecting a reply. Another group of people was showing interest in me, a large group of business people also based in Washington DC. I received regular emails, even after telling them I don’t live in the US. Eventually I decoded some information on their spam email, which started an exchange of messages. I was intrigued as to what was happening and excited at the same time. The internet was truly a global village, with a level playing field for all citizens.
Emails still poured into my P/C at an alarming rate. It carried with it good news and bad. I virtually never received email that said straight out: Good on you, mate, for standing up for what you believe in. Messages were subtle, disguised as spam. I could tell by the numbers and my favourite words all, trust plus others. My story was being read and people were 4 it. I received many cures for enlarging of the male organ. I knew they had read chapter 20.
Then there was a flood of this type of emails:
I just want to share with you something that is very real and has changed my life!
Would you like to start making $1,000 to $5,000 per week starting NEXT WEEK, from your HOME?
I have tried the network marketing approach but it wasn't the answer.
Twice I recruited over 700 people only to be left frustrated with management and no real money. (etc.)
Reading the first sentence I took as a special message for me. (Not the jumbled letters, I never spent time trying to decode anything). The figures 1, 5 and 7 only confirmed my belief that this person was one of HIS. The email address started with bob. It took up to 20 minutes just to sort email every day. But if lives were seriously changed for good through what God has created through me, then it is all worth it.
March is the year the Australian Red Cross sends out a swarm of volunteers for their annual door knock appeal. The year 2003 was my third year to collect the cash from the people living in our street. As I waited outside one open front door I was listening to the news. The station had previously reported items in a way that made sense to me, a coded message for me. As I stood there I heard the business reporter phrase a sentence that I could easily decipher. No doubts any longer.
On the collection round I had inkling, just as had happened about the road toll for 2002 that the amount collected would be special. God knew I loved numbers and he loves to give gifts to his children. (No I don’t mean I planned to keep any of the cash, I better be careful how I phrase my thinking pattern). Before finishing the whole street (I had to go back on Thursday to those that were not home on Monday) we put our two dollars in. As I tallied the cash that weekend the amount came to exactly $ 45.00, despite some people giving odd amounts in 20 cents coins. I told no one; this kind of play is special, just between HIM and me.
Uncertainty surfaced in other ways. Why had none of my friends, or anyone else that knew me, never mentioned my online story to me? Was it that outlandish? Were they afraid? Some of our friends distanced themselves from us. I knew it was not for malicious reasons. I could explain it for one of three reasons: One, the sheer awe of what was happening was all too much; two, people took a wait and see attitude ready to jump on the band wagon, if it ever rolled down Hollywood Blvd. or three, because of my writing they wanted nothing to do with me. At times I found it hard to cope with my ideas and concepts as well. But God never gives up on anyone, despite crazy thoughts. He used those.
My biggest doubts arouse every time I was verbally put down by one of my own family members. Even on occasions where I showed them the humorous side of what God was doing. It was amusing; just the fact that it was funny, when in reality the whole issue was about life and death, was funny. Perhaps I was able to cope with the serious aspects, because of my humorous, happy-go-lucky outlook. Time and again I felt down physically, exhausted from lack of sleep, and mentally after an argument at home about my mental state, but never for long.
One Saturday morning I conducted a driving lesson with a particular difficult student. As we came up to a corner I breathed a prayer asking for a little uplifting; I needed it in more ways than one. A moment later I recognized our Associate Pastor from church walking on the footpath (thank you Lord). After we had turned the corner (after the learner had stalled a number of times) I wondered what the large billboard of the Lutheran Church would read. It usually displayed uplifting messages. That morning the words were just for me: “Assurance, deep down inside”. I breathed another thank you. The learner stalling the car on the next intersection did not seem such a tragedy.
God had many ways of cheering me up and bringing comfort. I stumbled across Mark, Chapter 6 and Verse 4 – Jesus himself said: “A prophet is not without honour except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” When I say stumbled, it was just that. I know the bible reasonably well, but still relied on the Lord to bring thoughts across my path, be it in the bible, on tape, via email or any other source that I was exposed to every day. (This happened incredibly casually two days before the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy). With modern technology (the whole bible online) anyone can search out any scripture and quote it to justify his point of view. God does not like cheating.
My confidence in God came from experiences, some very public and some private. There are doubters reading my story. They feel better after accusing me of making up parts of the story to make it more grand. The chocolate cake interlude in Rome is a typical example. Nobody except myself and the homeless black woman lived and knows it. So it could have been invented to make me look good. But I know it occurred and I drew strength from the way God led me.
Those who know the story of David and Goliath recall how David sounded totally confident that he would slay the Philistine. So confident in fact, that King Saul himself gave him permission and offered his sword and armour to the young, daring teenager. What was it that gave David such towering confidence? Sure, his prayers to God and his faith. But David’s experience, which only he himself knew was true, cemented that faith in himself and his God.
In 1st Sam. 17 you can read the story: David almost seemed to brag how well he guarded his father’s sheep. When a lion or bear came and stole one of the flock, he would chase after it and fight for it. In Verse 35 he tells it as it was: “I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth: and when it arouse against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.” Nobody witnessed his heroic deeds. He had no reason to lie. The only applause received was the bleating of the sheep. His reward was the experience, the building of trust in himself and his God.
This was the reason why this young shepherd boy spoke with such confidence and persuaded the king to let him fight the giant. He had little experience worldly wise. But the lonely years with just God and his sheep built strength of character. His name is still quoted, a few thousand years later, as the symbol of a hero; the small against the big, the poor against the rich.
God was with David. God made all the difference.
Autobiography - Dieter Fischer
1. More in number 2. A sound mind 3. Now I'm found 4. Candle and the Wind
5. Realm of Nature 6. All in his Hand 7. The Wonder of it All 8. To Think God loves