Six Months in Sackcloth and Ashes!


Six Months in Sackcloth and Ashes!

Okay, there might not have been actual boils, but the past six months have given us a tiny taste of the ordeal a man named Job experienced. And all we can say is: Job, was a man of supreme faith in God! (It helped me to learn the name Job is spoken as Jobe, as if you were saying robe.)

Anyway, Job was "...blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil." Job 1:1 He had seven sons and three daughters and many possessions. Satan challenged God to let Job's love for God be tested. And so God allowed it. Within a very short time, through Satan's evil touch, Job lost stock, servants, sons. Did Job blame God? No. "Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

'Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.'

In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong." Job 1:20-22

Job's challenges increased, including the infamous boils. Boils are quite large sores, quite painful, which form a core under the skin and are quite difficult to get rid of. Ask me how I know? The month I changed my diet to eat plant based vegan whole foods in 1995, I broke out in 13 boils all at once, all over my body!

All Job's friends thought he should just give up and die. But Job kept his faith in God - no matter what. Perhaps this is the lesson for us in these vastly changing times. Keep Faith in God - No Matter What Happens in Your Life!

May I say, there is no way I can claim to be upright or blameless, though I strive through faith in God and His Word to one day get there. However, after the past six months I do believe I have more understanding of Job's trials.

Today I am going to look back over the last six months, so you might understand our absence on The Health Reporter and other Vital Force work areas (such as the long-awaited Book 2: Earth Invaded by Evil).

It all began in the first week in June 2013, with a small car crash. The dreadful ripping noise we heard was the bumper bar peeling off just like an apple skin peeling off an apple. Someone far greater than us was watching over us that day. My earnest prayer was, "Thank you God, this could have been so much worse."  My confidence took a nosedive though.  My longsuffering husband didn't say a word, but tied the damaged bumper on to the car with blue hay bale twine (bright blue, super strong rope used for tying up huge hay bales on farms). Did the car stand out like a sore thumb? You bet! But I also got a lot of friendly waves from farming types in their farming vehicles who thought the bright blue rope was a real laugh! A lot of people asked me if a kangaroo had hit the car. How easy it would have been to say, "Yes!" But I resisted the temptation to shield my pride, and took the harder road of truth and cringing embarrassment!

Next up, the printer. We rely on the printer for scanning and emailing the children's schoolwork to their teachers in New Zealand. But now the printer seized up, scanned gobbledeegook, spurted nonsense, scanned only bits and pieces, every variaton of confusion you can think of. I stumbled across advice to shake the printer upside down, so I did. Out popped a spring, a stub of a pencil and a few cat hairs. Still the printer refused to work. From this moment on, I chose a change of pace. Instead of anxiety, I advised all the teachers we would be sending in hard copies by post for a while. We prayed that God would show us a suitable printer in His time - and He answered our prayer. Choosing to trust in God, instead of stewing in my own anxiety soup - although I felt strangely lazy letting go of anxiety.

Yes, these are mild difficulties. Millions of people around the world would happily deal with these mini-problems, content in the knowledge they would have a good meal in front of them soon, somewhere to live, a clean bed, and freedom to worship God without persecution. It is painfully true that many of us have no idea of true hardship. I do find I pray on this a lot, as having unstable, chronic ill health can be physically, mentally and spiritually draining. One of the books I like to read to ground myself in reality is called: Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. And we definitely thought the next problem was very First World. 

The dishwasher. A good quality German machine, we call Mr Gustav. An utter luxury deemed necessary in 2010 when I was still so very ill. A morning shower used all my energy, and I had to get back into bed to build energy to prepare an evening meal. That was before I discovered I cannot eat grains of any kind at this time in my life.

And so our Mr Gustav, reliable kitchen helper, started developing a distinct odour problem, smelling decidedly of burnt plastic. I spent hours cleaning this and that, looking here and there, Then Mr Gustav went completely on strike. 

Perhaps we didn't need this luxury now? Times have changed, in our family and in the world. Perhaps now is the time to prepare for a simpler life for what lies ahead? Finally I relented and called in a serviceman who discovered the bench above the dishwasher had been leaking and this had caused a constant drip of water onto something called the "micro switch" which should have had a cover on it, but the cover had somehow slipped off (of course it had!). My capable husband repaired the bench, and Mr Gustav returned to his full status in our household - at least temporarily.

From then on, every day something went awry. Breaking, bursting, leaking, losing, crashing, grinding, Not flushing, over flushing, Burning or not burning. This was the middle of winter, a time when my body refuses to operate under 15 degrees celsius. I was beginning to get a little bit nervous and wondered what God wanted me to learn. Was I blind to His communication? Was I missing some vital lesson?  Was I overthinking? Did things like this happen to everyone, every day? Was there a different way to look at this?  I didn't seem to be getting any more patient (if anything less), I certainly didn't seem to be becoming more like lovely Jesus Christ (in fact less), I wasn't getting more done (much less). Hmmm.

One day, the firewood refused to light and so it was for the next several days. No matter what we did, how many hours we spent kneeling in front of the firebox laying dry-as-a-bone (where did that saying come from anyway?) strips of wood, using wads of shipping paper from our move to Australia the year before, pumping the bellows until they started to come apart, the fire just wouldn't take. The firewood, although dried for three years, sizzled and steamed instead of catching light. All the smoke pouring into the open plan living area, meant we had a definite smoky odour about us, no matter how many times we showered. Come to think of it, we did get a few strange looks when we went to town! It turned out the chimney had only been cleaned at the firebox and not up the top. My courageous husband climbed up two ladders to reach the top of the chimney and cleaned out chunks of black gunk. Meanwhile I was layering on more clothes and walked around like an abominable snowwoman, a hot water bottle trapped between layers of clothes. My husband began to look at me sideways. Sometimes though, life is just like that: The good with the bad, the farmer with the abominable snowwoman!

But that's okay, fire was on the horizon! Because one Sunday night, while heating the oven to bake the next day's bread (you remember - my sourdough phase), the oven exploded with a BOOM! and caught fire! I like a good crisis as much as the next girl, and so buckled down to cooking simple meals with an electric frypan and slow cooker for the next few weeks. I was even able to bake reasonably nutritious "cakes" in the slow cooker! 

Just when we were getting comfortable with the joy of simple living, the new oven was ordered and arrived. "Ah," I thought, "this is the new beginning I have been waiting for, all will now be well."  The electrician, the builder and the plumber all played their parts very well.  The owners of the house had very kindly bought a brand new, latest model, all sparkly and shiny, large oven and overhead extractor hood for taking the steam and cooking smells out of the house. I felt very thankful and so very spoiled.

The lovely tradespeople popped in and out over the next couple of days, and finally the moment arrived for me to carefully follow the start up instructions in the oven manual. You can see what's coming can't you? Just me and my son. Peace and quiet. We followed the instructions perfectly...

Suddenly there was a KAPOW! and all the electricity in the house stopped working. "Ah well," I thought (panicking but determined to maintain a mantle of thankfulness), "I love the electricity being turned off. Everything is SO peaceful."

We scurried off to find the builder, who was still somewhere around. He thought we were inviting him to sample the first baking from the new oven...instead he spent the rest of the afternoon on our telephone ringing all around Australia trying to find someone who could explain what had happened and what we should do. We noticed the control knobs on the new oven were badly warped and bent and still extremely hot to touch an hour after the explosion. This was the clue that unravelled the mystery. It seemed a small internal fan is supposed to turn on every time the oven is turned on. It just so happened (oh really?) that the small internal fan on our brand new oven had failed.

So we only had to wait another week for another brand new oven to be delivered and installed. In the meantime, the difficulties had escalated from things to people. We had three family crises brewing on the horizon. One of those was my dear Dad, who was close to passing to his rest.

During my visits to his room in the nursing home, Dad was spending quite a lot of time saying he was uncomfortable. I was told by the caring nursing home staff that Dad was being a little bit naughty. However, the doctor duly paid a visit to Dad, and said he could find nothing more than Dad's usual difficulties.

But just a few days later, on Dad's 79th birthday, I got an emergency telephone call from the nursing home to say Dad was being rushed to hospital and might not recover. The next several weeks we spent as much time as possible with Dad, each visit was bittersweet, as we loved to spend time together, but we knew what was coming up. So we trained or drove the two hours there and back as much as we could.

During this time, we also had a planned visit from other family, so normal routine just seemed to take a running dive out the window.

My Dad passed away in the middle of October. Our family - his children and grandchildren, his nieces and nephews and, his friends and former work colleagues remember my Dad with joy for the truly different man he was, for the man he strove to be.

And very special to me, was the man Dad continued to become during the last month of his life, when a change seemed to happen. Dad's face seemed to be more open, he gained a mantle of peace I had not seen before. On Dad's last day, he held our gaze for as long as he could, a minute here, a few seconds there. A look can say a thousand words you know. As we left Dad's bedside and drove away, a huge arching rainbow hung over Melbourne. One of those vast, repeating rainbows. A promise. A hope. God is so good to let us know He is there with us and with those who need Him.

Dad passed away peacefully several hours later.

 

Posted: Tue 10 Dec 2013


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