19. A slave – totally free.
Events surrounding the incredible “theophany” of Christmas 03 all but dispelled any remaining doubts about God’s gracious intervention. Did anyone need further confirmation that HE is the Master planner behind this journey?
The last verse in the Gospel of St. Mark says it very clearly: “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Ch. 16, V. 20).
My stories would have little impact without HIS confirmation. My writing would be nothing but a report of unlikely events, spun into a fantastic tale of mysteries and intrigue. But the timing of these remarkable events, the names of people and localities involved, the special numbers – all form into a big, beautiful picture, framed by God himself.
Not I but HE is in command of what is taking place. As I look back at the way all is unfolding, I realize that God was and still is at work through my daily activities. These have become rather hectic and unusual at times.
The more I tried to ignore my immediate environment and the constant linking of data, the more I realized how futile this was. Facts were facts, such as the following cluster of data I observed travelling to my 4 pm driving lesson yesterday afternoon, April 2nd, 04 (02/04/2004). I was not in a dream; nor was it a joke that our forecast temperature in Adelaide was 24 degrees on 2/4/2004. (The weather bureau told me it had reached only 22).
Here is what I observed on that day: Stopping at a set of traffic lights on Main North Rd. a vehicle pulling a trailer stopped just ahead of me. It was painted silver and had a wire cage. Amongst its big load I saw a large green piece of canvas. It looked like a ‘swag’, (an Aussie roll-up bed and carry-all, as used by bushmen). Packed in tightly were also a red suitcase and a large box that had “All-Star” written on it. (Almost daily I notice vehicles of this transport company).
The registration number on the trailer had three letters which I read as “Oh, see (the) cross” 150. This number initially drew my attention. (The same three letters with an a/o swap are very prominent on the index page on my website). Further to that – a Holden Commodore in the lane beside me carried the registration plate W.. 963. Public bus 145 in the lane beside had the registration number …501.
Months prior I had seen cars with empty trailers cross my path at an increasing rate; enough for me to notice. Then I realized that the word trailer, like Dieter (re: diet) can be re-phrased into - re: trail. It was exactly one year ago, that I had commenced my “trail”, the journey into the unknown from Melbourne (Australia) to Los Angeles (USA). (More in number, Chapters 63-72).
I had not forgotten this anniversary. Doesn’t everyone think and reminisce occasionally: One year ago on my holiday I was sitting in front of… and had a coffee, wasn’t it fantastic? How could I not remember the night at the ‘F 1 Motel at Tullamarine Airport’, my dream at 3.15 am about the Iraqi crisis, and the flight to the US on April fool’s day 2003?
Exactly a year later, I also woke real early. As I do occasionally I groped for the small transistor beside my bed. I had no intention of anything, except to listen for a few moments to 5 AA Talkback Radio and falling asleep again. If the radio had not been within reach, I would not have bothered. The transistor was beside my bed. I turned the dial and tuned in.
I listened for a while to the conversations. As happened regularly, much of it seemed to strike a cord in my mind; words (e.g. all or good etc), numbers (you know by now which ones turn me on), phrases stirred and concepts teased my brain. I imagined that people had read some of my story and somehow responded to it in this “roundabout” way.
I got out of bed and dialled the familiar number to have some fun. Earlier that morning I had heard the presenter tell a lady: “Our electricity prices are falling by 20 % as from today. Isn’t that good news?” I knew immediately this was an April fool’s joke. When my turn came (I had given my name as Winston), I started my talk with:
“I heard you say about electricity prices dropping by 20 %. Well, it’s actually 20.153 percent. I was in the public gallery in Parliament listening to the debate last night. When I got home I calculated it all out.
Iain Evans spoke too. He broke his own record. Last week he spoke for 5 hours; yesterday he went on for 5 ½ hours.
Before that I was at the German Club for a beer. This joker, I think he was a German, said his name has six letters, but he calls himself Chris for short. He reckoned he’d been to Melbourne a year earlier. He is a driving instructor and they took blind people around the Sandown Racetrack. He reckons one of them did 146 km/h down the main straight. Can you believe that – a blind driver doing 146?
Anyway, then he said he saw a sign ‘Exide Batteries’ – he thought it meant “Exit”. At lunch time they had a bit of entertaining, the band played music and he heard songs like, about Texas and “Washington Fair”. Anyhow, he reckons this made him fly off to America. He reckoned he helped win the war in Iraq… Bit hard to believe, hey, but what, if it was all true? You’d have to feel sorry for the guy.”
Presenter: “Yeah, yeah, ha, ha. Thanks for your call …”
After hanging up I laughed out loud, careful not to wake Isobel or Jon. If they had caught me at that hour standing in the lounge room, laughing for no reason, they would have been worried. It would make little sense to my wife, seeing me acting crazy one moment and kneeling beside my computer, praying fervently for souls to be saved, the next.
The week prior it had actually been reported that the Liberal politician I joked about, spoke for 5 hours in State Parliament. (That’s dedication, brother!) I had given a political speech only 5 weeks earlier during a Liberal Party meeting. I was given 5 minutes. (No much time to proof my dedication).
(In early 2004 I made an attempt to enter Federal Politics - unsuccessfully – I may report in detail about this very educational exercise at an appropriate time later. All I say for now is that this was the reason for my website being off-line from 19/1/04 until 15/3/04 – not that I would ever deny what I had written. However, I did not want my writing to influence an election campaign (to my advantage or otherwise) had I won pre-selection to stand for Parliament).
It was nearly 5 am. I noticed the kitchen needed tidying up. I kept chuckling to myself about the humorous April fool’s phone call, while I listened to some more radio. Doing the dishes and fixing a broken cupboard door were not a chore, but pleasurable, as I thought about the fun I just had. I increasingly felt that people were also having fun with me.
One of my students, a teenage boy, wanted to be dropped at his friend’s place after his driving lesson. He was going for a game of soccer straight after. What was unusual was that his two friends walked down the garden stairs to ‘welcome’ him. They must have been waiting for us, yet did not appear to be in a hurry rushing off. As they walked back into the house I noticed the number on the back of the footy shirt – 12.
I got the message; how creative. As I drove off I broke a road rule. I blew the horn illegally (to say good-bye) which I normally don’t do; Once quickly, then after a pause, twice. Did they get the message that I got the message?
Would you believe that my son said to me this morning as I drove him to school: “Dad, why don’t you get some more fun out of life?
He and the rest of the family didn’t know how much life I was living, without them. (Not by my choice, but because of their view of me). One such fun incident I experienced on Saturday 21/2/04.
That morning a small item in the Advertiser newspaper lead me to a Kindergarten in nearby Salisbury. The occasion was the opening of their new ‘solar power system’ the Government funded. Unless I misunderstood, but I heard the amount of 1.5 million dollars mentioned, which sounded a large sum for this small pre-school centre.
A senior Minister of the Labour Government came to officiate at 10.30 am. I had the intuitive feeling that there was something ‘fishy’ taking place.
As if on cue, just when the senior politician started her speech, it started to rain. We don’t have much rain from December to February in Adelaide. The first substantial rain we’d had for many weeks came right at the moment, when a new solar energy system was opened. How amusing!
There was only a small crowd of approx. 50 parents and a few dozen children present, sheltering under the rear veranda and listening to the speeches. One parent wore a printed T-shirt: “Melbourne Cup winners” in large letters. It listed the horses that won this famous horse race in the past. I identified with all three words:
One, winner - I backed the winner of all winners (yes HIM). Two, Melbourne – how could I ever forget April Fool’s day 2003, and three, the word ‘cup’ I read as “see you P”. Why not?
The most obvious sign that ‘something was in the air’ was my meeting with two grandparents. I recognized them immediately and started a conversation. I had known them from the Church Youth Club 20 years earlier. I recalled both their names in an instant. Years earlier I never looked at names like I do now. On that rainy Saturday morning, however, their Christian names and surname fitted perfectly into my wonderful mind-game. (The surname was exactly that of the lawyer that offered me a “bed” in the back of his van on my last night in California in April 03. (More in number, Chapter 71).
Again I knew I had come to the right place. Having committed my life to God, I knew that whatever action I took, with a clear conscience, with the pure motive to do HIS will, I would always be walking in HIS ways.
What a paradox! To be a slave, but walk in total freedom! Becoming a slave to Christ had liberated me from all feelings of guilt and worry. My total abandonment to God beat my mental illness, if ever I had one. It cured my disturbed mind. Why should I allow myself to be bound by baseless fear or struggle with needless guilt?
Christ’s mission was to liberate all of us. Without HIS death we would all still be slaves to the law that no one can keep. In this matter we are all in the same boat – rich or poor, young or old, believers on non-believers. We all need Jesus. To not want HIM is to reject HIM.
Let the weak say I am strong,
let the poor say I am rich –
because of what the Lord has done.
Give thanks with a grateful heart.