45. Can emotions kill?
My wife Isobel was and still is a great companion to me. She is a real hard worker with a calmness about her that exerts an aura of quietness and peace. She loves our children unconditionally. As you may have guessed she is a very private person, yet full of charm, always bearing a lovely smile, especially when we are in a social scene. She once experienced for herself a definite answer to our prayer.
In the late 1980’s our ancient motor car, a Wolseley 444 built in 1954, needed a windscreen wiper motor. I could not locate one anywhere that fitted the then 33 year old car. Luckily it does not rain very often in Adelaide. One night we travelled on a suburban back street returning home from a house fellowship meeting. It was not only dark, but it started to rain. I had to wind down the window and lean out to see where I was going. We slowly covered the two kilometres home, while getting drenched.
This is ridiculous, I thought and prayed more earnestly that the Lord would help us find this windscreen wiper motor I had been searching for.
A few days later after shopping at the K-Mart Isobel returned to the Wolseley. She noticed a little note under the (how ironic) windscreen wiper. It read: “I have for you a Wolseley 444 to use for parts. Please call my number … if you are interested”. When I phoned the person, he offered us an old car he had planned to restore, but had changed his plans. The only stipulation was we had to remove the whole car, not just take parts. Of course, the first question I asked was, if it had a windscreen wiper motor. It did, and many useful parts besides. Here was the answer to our prayer, God’s provision beyond our need.
I wished all prayers would receive such a definite, tangible answer. Apart from “give us this day our daily bread” I seldom prayed for material things. This is why I did not pray for a new car. In time this would eventuate in the course of normal life. The prayer I wanted to see come true, was to see our ex-boss and my mates from the MCA coming to a point of reconciliation. Wednesday the 25th of Sept. was the day I chose to make a move in that direction.
The regular breakfast meeting of the ‘Speaker’s Club’ took place that day. Since I was in the city already that morning there was no excuse not to visit Chris Samson, except possibly the crutches. My ankle had sustained worse damage than I first expected. I should have rested it much longer than I did. It would have been easy to make the crutches an excuse for not obeying my inner voice. I had to go regardless!
I was driving our family Mitsubishi, which had auto transmission. Car parking was not a problem; fifteen minutes was available outside the MCA Headquarters, it would suffice. With a feeling of apprehension I entered the familiar building for the first time in four years. There were not many customers in the large foyer area where the public conducted all their business the organization was involved in. I was very conscious of two female staff members smiling and watching me hobble through the foyer. I recognized their faces.
I asked for Mr. Sampson at main reception desk. This staff member did not recognize me and seemed a little reluctant, since I had no appointment. Chris came down the stairs a few moments later, always dressed immaculately and groomed to match. It was too late to run. I couldn’t anyway, leaning on my crutches for physical support. For spiritual support I knew where to lean to. I heard people accuse Christians for using God as a crutch. They could not be more accurate in describing our human helplessness and desperate need of HIM. Without my three crutches I would have fallen many times.
A few years earlier I had written a very nasty letter addressed to Chris, who I was about to meet face to face. My psychologist at the time suggested the idea. All my frustration and anger, how I hated this person, I wrote in the most colourful language to give a clear message of despise and condemnation. I was not meant to send the letter. Had I done so, I knew, I would not be able to face this man now. I was not that brave.
Someone had said to me, after I had mentioned our work place problems that I ought to pray for my superior. I thought they were kidding me. No way could I have earnestly done so at the time. But as the months and years went by, I was able to see God’s hand in it all. Romans 8 and Verse 28 was unfolding before my very eyes: “All thing work together for good…” For months before this encounter I had prayed for Chris.
We spoke briefly about my sprained ankle. He thought I had injured my foot playing soccer, which had happened a few times when I worked at the MCA. That Wednesday I looked at Chris differently. To directly meet people’s eyeballs had been a real problem to me well into my adulthood. Now, as I looked into Chris’ deep brown eyes I saw a large spot. I had never taken notice of it until now and thought to myself if it was affecting his vision. Perhaps I was convincing myself that it was. This would give me a reason to show compassion for Chris.
We only see the outward side of a person or the mask we all tend to wear in front of others. If we saw the bare human side of people, their handicaps, their heartaches, their injured souls instead of the confident, well dressed façade, we would view our neighbour differently. It is so hard to love a mask.
After a few short exchanges Chris indicated, he had to meet a deadline, so we shook hands firmly, and… There was one thing I had to ask: “Chris, a few instructors are having a dinner on Sunday night at the ‘Eagle on the Hill’ Restaurant, would you consider joining us?” Why was I so nervous asking the question? Was I that desperate to see my prayers answered? Chris indicated that he was not ready to join us on any social basis yet. I left with a promise to myself to keep praying for that man.
On the way home I pondered about forgiveness. Even though Chris did not join in our social club his handshake was genuine. You don’t need to be social pals to show you have forgiven someone. Perhaps this is why people for years live in dispute with someone; it ensures the distance between the people that hurt us is maintained. For me forgiveness was the only way to go. As I drove home a feeling of wellbeing flooded my being. I felt like celebrating.
On the same day a small plane crashed just after take-off in Queensland, killing 5 tourists plus the pilot. It was meant to be a short 10 minute trip from Hamilton Island to nearby Lindeman Island. One newly-wed wife, a US visitor, lost her husband Chris in the tragedy. He gave up his seat for a family to travel together and was therefore not with his wife.
The headline in the paper the next day (on 26th or 27th Sep.) referred to a statement by the young bride about the level of relationship to her late husband: “…what Chris and I achieved was more than some people achieve in a lifetime.” (or similar). Reading the headline my mind went back to the meeting with Chris on the same day the new bride lost her husband. I could say the same thing as she.
Two days later I was going to be in a celebration of a different kind. It was Friday, Sept. 27th 02, always a day of high ‘fire danger’ in my week. My diary says: “On Friday (am) I prayed to God what was in store for us today, I expect something Fridays, Wow, what a whopper was in store.”
At breakfast a brief article by Police Reporter Michael Duffy read: “Police Commissioner Mal Hyde had urged his officers not to feel shame over expressing their grief when an officer is killed in the line of duty.” The article went on to announce National Police Remembrance Day. A gathering was to take place at Fort Largs Police Academy at 11 am that same day. At the end Bob Sobczak was mentioned specifically as the first SA officer to die on duty in 11 years. The final sentence triggered my action button: Today’s service is open to the public.
The other Chris Sampson was still having driving lessons. Having a sprained ankle stopped me from driving my manual car. Isobel would not understand my action and probably needed the automatic Mitsubishi. Chris agreed to drive us to the function at Taperoo; about 30 Minutes drive west towards the shore.
It was an outdoor service in fine weather with only a slight breeze. I counted ten motorbikes and five policemen on horseback, besides the chief horseman, being part of the official function. The Governor, Lady Marjorie Nelson-Jackson, an ex-Olympic champion and committed Christian, wore a red costume. I recognized a few politicians and VIPs sitting in the front row. The large number of police uniforms in attendance reminded me of the funeral for Bob Sobczak. The hymns accompanied by a brass band really touched my spirit that morning. Chris sat beside me taking it all in.
On Oct. 2nd 2002 I recalled the emotional hour in an email to Rebekah from the Advertiser.
Last Friday morning I woke and said to the Lord. "It's Friday. What have you got in store for me today? I noticed the ad for the memorial service for fallen Police officers. When it mentioned that it's open to the public, I immediately knew I had to go. Chris …, the one with the p, drove me down to Fort Largs. (Chris ... without the p I saw 2 days earlier for the first time since Feb. 1998. It was such a joy to look him in the eye and say; "Great to catch up with you.").
That Friday I spent one of the most emotional hours in my life. The police band played and a lovely female voice sang. How I enjoyed the second verse of the National Anthem ... to make this Commonwealth of ours renowned.... I had to put my sunglasses on quickly. One day we will even sing the third verse: With Christ as head and cornerstone...
We sang The Lord is my shepherd I knew the words. What delight it was. I started thinking of one of my favourites When I survey the wondrous cross... Would they play that? After the officials laid their tributes the public was invited to give theirs. I grabbed my crutches because I have a sprained foot at the moment and obeyed that driving force inside me.
A dozen of so people lined up with flowers to lay at the Wall of Rememberence. Suddenly I realized I had nothing to lay down. Should I sit down? How embarrassing! Just then, I could not believe it, the band started playing When I survey the wondrous cross. I cried like a baby. Thank God for wrap around sunglasses.
I was the last one to hobble forward, oblivious of the crowd. As I got nearer the wall I saw a green twig lay on the ground. I picked it up. The words of another hymn came to my mind Nearer still nearer nothing I bring .... What a wonderful picture of the Lord's provision when we step out in faith with nothing to bring. I will never forget the name Bob Joseph Sobczak.
Sorry that I am going on a bit. This was meant to be a fun message, but ...
PS. As I looked up the hymn When I survey... my brain started thinking: I wonder what number it is in the book? Not another numbers co-incident?". (It can get a bit much at times, you know what I mean). To my relief it was hymn 161 in the Redemption Hymnbook. Then guess what? Right at the bottom it said: Alternative Tune: Deep Harmony 105.
Before the laying of tributes the clergyman officiating had said: “Now is the time for family, friends and supporters to come and …” There was that same word ‘supporter’, again. That word, spoken to invite the public to lay their tributes at the Wall of Remembrance, made me decide to get up and walk to the middle isle, where people were assembling to walk up one by one.
I had called myself a supporter on two previous occasions: In the newspaper article about the protest of the violent French porn film and when the secretary of the Motor vehicle dealership, who was praised publicly, asked me who I was.
The hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross” finishes with the statement … “demands my soul, my life, my all.” I had only days ago discovered the impact of that little word ‘all’. This is perhaps why I toyed with the thought, would they play this song and then reacted with such emotion to it.
Three weeks earlier I had, without realizing it’s significance, placed the word “all” on my Crash 7 finale webpage: Give HIM your all. To round it all off the heading in my personal website (the one you are reading) says: “The winner gives it all”. Did he Pop group Abba not think of the winner of winners when they sang: The winner takes it all? God gave it all, even His own son, so that we could live. No, the winner doesn’t necessarily take it all!
I knew it may be dangerous to pray: Lord what is in store for us this Friday? The hour at Fort Largs Police Academy exceeded all my expectations.
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