May 2014 – Living the Dream

 

The cliche “Living the Dream” is widely used amongst ‘celebrities’ and TV reality shows alike, but it often leave viewers with sense of failure or discontent about their lot in life.

While I don’t want to add to the paradigm of such TV parodies with their exaggerated claims, I do want to suggest that if per chance you are ‘LTD’, the possibilities are that you are the recipient of an unrecognised component which is called “God’s Grace”. 

I suppose 50 years of married life does entitle one to look back and talk about the journey that could be described as ‘lucky’ or ‘blessed’ depending which side of the fence you come from.

I don’t for a moment suggest that ‘LTD’ is somehow experienced only by a privileged few, because in my journey I have met countless tens of thousands who have experienced miracles, transformations, conversions that they would describe as ‘living the dream’.

When I started out in this journey called “life” I didn’t begin with a proverbial silver spoon in my mouth. On the contrary the first three or four years of my life I was plagued by a chronic condition called “Eczema” which covered my body as a baby growing up in the heat and humidity of India where my parents were serving God as missionaries

One would think that serving God would be ‘LTD’ for
my parents, yet their offspring suffered for years as a baby through not fault of my own.

To this day I remember those first few years of my life as I scratched my way to survive the awful itch that covered my body. My poor mother at times seemed beside herself to know what to do to help ease the symptoms. 

So you could say it wasn’t a good start to life, yet in reflection it wasn’t that bad because you forget the bad and take photos of the good to enhance your memory. haha!

Did the years of suffering with Eczema effect my personality? Some may say it did but thats something I had to work through in my school years.

School years! Oh yes I remember them well, especially boarding school in India when an attempted sexual molestation by another boarder frightened the life out of me.

Also I will never forget the day I was expelled from a girls school for hitting a girl who hit me first. It was a girls school after all, and the school authorities only enrolled me because of the respect they had for my parents who were missionaries and there was no other school in the vicinity.

That one day expulsion fixed me for life and I have never hit another woman from that day to this. Which is another experience that helped shape me to ‘live the dream’.

My education in high school began when we returned to Australia which was a shock to the system as I grappled with adjusting to the Australian way of life.

The Bombay bloomers that my mother clothed me in didn’t help my image when we first arrived back in Australia. School life in South Australian schools became a major adjustment for me as I struggled with finding acceptance and handling the local school bullies.

By this time I was a naive pentecostal teenager in a secular high school and it made for some painful emotional experiences which further added to the curriculum that prepared me to ‘live the dream’. The choices I made tempered by the fear of God and a loving family protected me at a time when I was most vulnerable.

Joining the work force after my school years was a further step which ultimately led me to prepare for my life calling in the Ministry of the Gospel.

For me to graduate from a theological college was the epitomy of achievement. Little did I realise it was just the beginning of many long years of sacrifice commitment and pain before I really lived the dream.

In 1960 I sailed for Papua New Guinea and couldn’t believe that life could get any better than this.

Just four years later it got even better. I met the beautiful Elizabeth Bell who agreed to marry me even though she hardly knew me. Six months later I joined her at the alter of the Glad Tidings Tabernacle and tied the knot. I reckon if Jesus could walk on water I was walking on ‘Cloud 9’ lol. Living the Dream? You bet I was, although I didn’t know what was to come.

Missionary life suited my dream as I had a wife and ministry 24/7. We grew a little family and indulged ourselves in what were the happiest years of our lives.

Just when I thought life was on a roll and could not stop getting better, tragedy struck in 1975.

A serious school accident to our first born son which led to him nearly loosing his life to serum Hepititis.

My wife nearly lost her life through contaminated blood products laced with Malaria parasites and the final blow when I laid to rest our infant son John-Paul under a rain tree in a village cemetery which to this day I have been unable to relocate.

Why Why Why? When you are living the dream bad things shouldn’t happen to good people! Are you kidding me? It prepares you for something even better. 

Returning to Australia in 1976 was the beginning of another period of ‘living the dream’ when we enjoyed some of the most wonderful years of ministry during the latter years of the Charismatic renewal.

Now life was really on a roll and the bad times were forgotten as the good times filled the void that was left. The Church grew, our family grew, our health grew, our wealth grew (what was left of it after feeding & educating four children!) and our perspective for our latter years were looking rosy!

At sixty years of age life couldn’t be sweeter! Our children were leaving the nest and some were married. Grandchildren were starting to appear on the horizon and yes you said it, we were ‘Living the Dream’.

Our years of full-time ministry were drawing to a close in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. Toowoomba in the Darling Downs showered us with a brilliant farewell when over 1200 of our congregation turned up to say good bye at the Empire Theatre.

I cried with emotional gratitude  at the kindness shown by our flock, the Toowoomba Assembly of God. We left the City ‘Living the Dream’ to its very end or so we thought.

As we prepared to walk into the sunset predators appeared without warning and destroyed the marriages of two of our children. ‘This could not be true’ I thought but indeed it was and so our years of bliss was turned to sorrow.

Could it be that God Almighty created this scenario?

Perhaps not but from it’s devastation has flowed experiences of joy that would surprise even the most sceptical.

Three new beautiful daughters in law have joined the family and give us much joy. Our oldest son Ted married Kylie in 2008; David married Rachee in 2011; and our youngest son Philip married Emma in 2010. We are blessed and are LTD again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month we celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Hundreds of people reached out to congratulate us for living the dream.

I would like to say to those who are going through a dark period in their journey. There is no perfect family, hold steady, crises come and go. 

Never give up on your dream because it may take a different form in which you intended.

God’s grace has a way of turning treachery into triumph, sorrow into serenity and creates beauty out of ashes.

Remember this, the perfect dream will only be seen when we see Jesus face to face. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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