A ROAD TRIP TO REMEMBER

When Captain Leo Gwyther badly broke his leg working on the family farm in Leongatha in southern Victoria there was concern. Next season’s crops needed to be planted if the family had any chance of surviving what the papers were calling “The Great Depression”. The early 1930’s were difficult not just in Australia but all over the world.

So of course Captain Gwyther’s son Lennie volunteered for the task. He harnessed together the horses, and for weeks Lennie drove them up and down the family’s one hundred and sixty acres. He ploughed and planted and perspired solo to make sure the job was done before the summer’s heat really set in.

When Captain Leo asked Lennie what he would like for his reward, Lennie had only one thing on his mind. Lennie wanted to travel to up to Sydney for the opening of their magnificent and shiny new Harbour Bridge. But Captain Leo knew there were two obstacles to granting Lennie his request: The first obstacle was Lennie would have to travel one thousand kilometres by foot to Sydney, all on his own. The second obstacle was Lennie’s age; the lad was only nine years old.

Lennie’s mother said no to the request straight away as all anxious mums would, but Captain Leo wasn’t so quick to deny the boy his day. Lennie wanted to take his pony –  Ginger Mick – who Lennie had grown up with. If nine-year-old Lennie Gwyther could plow one hundred and sixty acres of farmland with a team of working horses then perhaps a two month sojourn alone to the city of Sydney was not beyond consideration.

Lennie left Leongatha with Ginger Mick on a warm summer Wednesday in the February of 1932. His family was not to know at the time that sixty years later a life-size statue of the boy and his small horse would be erected in the small town to mark the extraordinary expedition. A brave boy in bronze – as a memorial to a feat beyond what twenty-first century parents would allow any of their children to attempt.

Lennie’s tools for the trip was a bed-roll, his tooth brush, a water bottle, his oversized bucket-shaped cloth cap…. and silk pyjamas. The boy headed north-east travelling about twenty kilometres a day. At the end of each day Lennie would stop at a farm house and ask if Ginger Mick could eat some of their grass, and if the both of them could sleep in the farm’s barn. In the first few weeks Lennie dealt maturely with a dangerous summer bushfire passing through his route, as well as the constant threat of vagabonds on the road. 

News of a rural boy’s ride from from the green hills of southern Victoria up to the bright lights and bustle of Sydney for the opening of the huge Harbour Bridge began spreading over fences and down the road ahead of Lennie. Newspapers around the nation began picking up on reports from their country cousins of Lennie and his pony Ginger Mick’s journey north. Headlines were giving him the moniker “Lennie the Legend”, and the nation’s readers were requiring daily updates on his progress and safety. The London Times were even reporting on the the boy and his pony back in the Mother Country. 

By the time the pair had reached the newly built Australian capital city of Canberra – the halfway point on their journey – Lennie had become a national celebrity. The Prime Minister of the country, Joseph Lyons, invited Lennie to have morning tea with him. Lennie couldn’t help but notice the sheep grazing on the front lawn of Parliament House as he ate scones with Australia’s premier politician.

When Lennie and Ginger Mick finally arrived into Sydney ten thousand people crammed into Martin Place to greet “Lennie the Legend”. Lennie was a little lost in all the attention and adoration as most nine year old boys would be. He had to be shepherded through the large crowd by two dozen police, and was annoyed with some of the greeters who were plucking hairs out of Ginger Mick’s tail as souvenirs. 

Six weeks earlier Lennie had set off from Leongatha with farewells from his family. All he wanted was to see the brand new Sydney Harbour Bridge, and now he was being asked to ride across it on Ginger Mick as a national celebrity during the opening celebrations.

When all the ribbon-cutting was over, and tickertape was being swept from Sydney’s streets, Lennie and Ginger Mick began their long return home. The Sun newspaper reported the young boy’s departure with the following line: “Lennie, being a typical casual Australian, swung into the saddle and called ‘Toodleloo!’”

Today, when you visit Lennie and Ginger Mick’s statue in his home town of Leongatha, you’re reminded of the courage an adventure like theirs requires. All exciting escapades involve the ingredient of bravery. But another component is not so obvious – the element of faith. All journeys in life require a faith that, despite our fears, everything will turn out well in the end.

And for Lennie and Ginger Mick everything turned out just grand.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil. For my Creator walks with me; His rod and His staff comfort me.” (the 23rd Psalm, verse 4)

Lennie Gwyther (aged nine) in his familiar over-sized cloth cap along with Ginger Mick. Lennie was given the pony as a gift on Lennie’s second birthday
Lennie & Ginger Mick riding passed the dignitaries as they opened the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932
In the southern Victorian town of Leongatha there’s a statue of their boy “Lennie the Legend” and his pony Ginger Mick

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is taking a sabbatical year to drag his family around Australia in a caravan. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series that meanders around a series of subjects pondered and stuff seen. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking “follow”.

A REMARKABLE ROCK

The Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island live up to their given name. Standing sentinel on a weathered cliff, these massive formations have perched in this one spot over the Southern Ocean for aeons. They have watched, they’ve been weathered, and they have stood firm – almost as monolithic metaphors for strength and imperiousness. 

Facing south from the cliffs, Antarctica is out there somewhere. On the clearest of days you would never be able to see the great white continent from here, but through squinting eyes you are aware it’s the next land mass over the ocean once the Roaring Forties have been conquered

On the day of our visit the Riley kids ran among the massive granite boulders looking for recognisable shapes, and also really good places to hide. These rock formations  are nature’s superior version of a Henry Moore sculpture display

“The Eagle” was the most obvious of the weather-hewn shapes to be seen. The “Helmet and the Sword” were discovered next, and then a “Cake” – a discovery perhaps influenced by the fact it was my son Theodore’s ninth birthday. The “Sad Puppy” was one  of our final discoveries, and was seen only when the shadows of the setting sun had thrown enough reddening tones to reveal some round eyes and floppy ears.

On the display board in the car-park down the hill there’s a photograph of a family visiting the Rocks in the late 1800’s. Over a century stood between their touristic trip to this remote part of the world and my family’s visit. The only difference between us (apart from an Eagle’s Beak slightly longer back when Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire) was they had brought their dog. My wife tells me we’ll NEVER own a dog… and so maybe the reason I saw a Sad Puppy face in the Remarkables is some kind of three dimensional Rorschachian inkblot revealing the sadness of my soul at a future without Rover.

Standing beside and among and inside these rock formations I can’t help but compare their existence to mine. When our shadows were cast upon their permanence it only served to emphasise this life’s fragility and failures. These Remarkables will be here well after the Rileys are not. 

The ancients have often compared nature’s Creator to a rock. At the Remarkables I am able to catch a glimpse of the reason for the comparison. 

There is a story in Scripture from almost three thousand years ago of a totalitarian leader of a world superpower. He craves absolute power and immortality and yet dreams one night of a divine rock that smashes into his ego and all those who come after him. This biblical story is not a prophecy of a catastrophic meteor, it’s a metaphoric promise of Christ. It’s a story of a Saviour who brings strength and peace to a world needing permanence.*

In Jesus, we do indeed have a Remarkable Rock. It is He who gives our life shape. As we walked away from the cliff face, I was closer to this Rock than when I had arrived.

(* This story of the king of Babylon’s dream is found in the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 2)

An eagle’s perspective of the Remarkable Rocks on the remote south-west corner of Kangaroo Island

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is taking a sabbatical year to drag his family around Australia in a caravan. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series that meanders around a series of subjects pondered and stuff seen. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking “follow”.

TALKING TOMBSTONES

Three generations of my family stood on a windswept cemetery hill a mile outside of the small southern New South Wales town of Boorowa. A rain storm was heading towards us, and we only had a few minutes before the welcomed wet arrived.

My mother understood the significance of the moment, but my kids would probably only appreciate the memory of a graveside stop in a few decades’ time.

“John Mulcahy” the headstone read, “A native of County Cork in Ireland who departed this life in 1867 aged 88 years.”

John Mulcahy was my mother’s great great great grandfather. In 1836 John purchased tickets on a boat for himself and his wife, and also their ten children – and they embarked on a three month sea voyage from Ireland to a new British colony in the southern hemisphere. The trip would cost him the lives of his wife and his seven-year-old son to Scarlet Fever, and John would see a fifth of his fellow passengers and crew die of the same infection before they reached Sydney cove. When they arrived, those who survived were forced into quarantine on a remote headland miles from the colony. “Fever Ship!” shouted the front page of the fledgling Sydney Morning Herald, and the vessel’s survivors were scorned.

John Mulcahy would spend the next two months in a makeshift tent with his nine children, released from quarantine when Governor Bourke deemed the Fever’s outbreak over. 

John took his family south and inland, two hundred miles from Sydney. He took them to sheep country, and they stayed for over a century. Four generations of John Mulcahy’s family stewarded the land and the livestock, and today Italian suit companies clamour for the superfine Merino wool the area sends back to Europe. 

My mother and my children stood by John’s grave, in the same place our ancestors had stood grieving over one hundred and fifty years previously. The spot seemed sacred to me, but my kids just rolled their eyes and asked: “Is this over yet, Dad?” They’ll thank me in a few decades…. I hope.

John’s tombstone is engraved with words both macabre and also deeply meaningful:

Remember me as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now you soon must be
Remember that as you think of me

The rain began to fall, and my children welcomed an excuse to scurry from an ancient burial ground towards the car. I took my mother’s arm to help her over the uneven ground, and we followed the kids’ lead back to the vehicle. As I helped her into the passenger seat she half-whispered something to me so the kids wouldn’t hear: “David, I hope I’m not forgotten when the next generation is gone.”

That may very well be every adult’s fear as we confront our own mortality.

On a windswept and wet hill, a mile outside of the historic town of Boorowa, I had ancestors from both yesterday and today speaking to me. A message from the tombstone of the dead and the lips of the living: Our time is short, so make your life mean something.

The Apostle Paul wrote something similar two thousand years ago: “For each one of us is a masterpiece of God’s, created deliberately in Christ Jesus to do a good work in this life.”*

My life is short. By God’s good grace may it mean something.

(* Bible quote taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2 verse 20)

Beside the grave of John Mulcahy (1779-1867). The Riley kids may be smiling in the photo, but as soon as I hit “click” the asked: “Can we go now?”
The small town of Boorowa in southern New South Wales has an annual festival called “Irish Woolfest” to celebrate immigration from the Emerald Isle that built their wool industry. This photo captures the ‘running of the sheep’

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is taking a sabbatical year to drag his family around Australia in a caravan. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series that meanders around a series of subjects pondered and stuff seen. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking “follow”.A group of people posing for a photo

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BORDER CROSSINGS

Almost all of Australia’s internal state borders are straight. They mirror the majority of the continent’s flat terrain. Those dashed territorial lines on a map represent the separation of former British colonies into today’s self-governing states.

But if your eye wanders down the map to the south-east corner of the country, you’ll see a line of dashes snaking all the way to the outback of South Australia. This meandering border separates Australia’s two most populous states (and the country’s oldest colonies); Victoria and New South Wales.

The snaked line of dashes on the map isn’t the result of a cartographer’s machine malfunctioning, nor is it because he might have had a beer too many by the time his ruler reached the fourth quadrant of Australia. That serpent of dashes represents the mighty Murray River.

There is something  special about the Murray River. Well, there is to me.

As a child being shuttled regularly on the long car journey between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the Murray signaled something significant whenever it was crossed. On the other side of the Murray River is where laws changed. It’s where football fields transitioned from southern codes to northern. It’s where the darkness of my heart turned to light or possibly back to a deeper black, depending on the direction I was travelling. 

The Murray River: from its rapid beginnings in the Snowy Mountains, its slow dawdling across an ancient flat land through multiple attempts of humanity to civilise it into dams and irrigation systems, and then finally the river’s release into the giant mouth of the Southern Ocean. Two and half thousand kilometres of meandering water, making it one of the longest rivers in the world. But to me, in my childhood memories, the Murray is more than just another river.

I’m currently stalking the Murray westward on our family lap around Australia. We’re following the river’s flow west towards South Australia. As the week has unfurled, the Rileys have swum in the huge Lake Hume near the city of Albury, and then watched turtles feeding along the dam wall before being chased away by a sudden rain squall. We’ve splashed about in shallows near the historic township of Corowa, making sure not to swim out into the middle of the river and be dragged too far downstream. We’ve camped along its banks watching sunsets and river cod jumping at insects on dusk. 

The other night our daughters were talking about strands of their hair coming loose from their head as they swam. They were mildly concerned they had somehow managed to pollute the river as their hair floated downstream, or possibly even endangered fish. “You’re now a part of the Murray,” I reassured them as we washed the river’s mud off our feet, “And the Murray is a part of you”.

The biblical account of creation tells us*: “God formed humanity from the mud, and then He kissed life into each of them. With this combination of mud and the Creator’s breath they became a living soul.”

Each of us are made from something material and also something supernatural. When we allow ourselves to become physically close to creation we can sometimes hear the quiet voice of the Creator whispering His wishes for our lives.

And so today, the Murray River is letting me cross a border; a border into another Kingdom. 

A Kingdom of eternal tomorrows.

(* Bible quote taken from Genesis chapter 2, verse 7)

The Murray River in south-eastern Australia is the third longest navigable river in the world (behind the Amazon and the Nile)
One of our campsites during our travels along the Murray River

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is taking a sabbatical year to drag his family around Australia in a caravan. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series that meanders around a series of subjects pondered and stuff seen. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking “follow”.

LONG DAYS AND SHORT YEARS

As a dad with young kids there’s a parental maxim I’m continually repeating to myself: 

“The days may be long but the years will be short”. 

Each day with young children can seem a drawn-out repeat of the previous, so I endeavour to minimise some of my frustrations with this old adage: “The days may be long but the years will be short”

Every evening when I bang on the bathroom door and tell my daughters to “hurry up in there!” – I whisper to myself: “The days may be long but the years will be short”. Each morning when I rush around the house asking my eight-year-old son: “Where are your school shoes, lad? I can’t believe you’ve lost them again!” I stare down his I-don’t-care-about-shoes facial expression and say to myself….. “The days may be long but the years will be short”.

When I speak with parents whose offspring are into their latter teens or even older, they share with me their laments and regrets regarding not embracing this “younger” parenting season with their own kids. These more experienced parents miss the long days of when their own kids were smaller, and they prod me with a large stick of urgency to spend more time with mine.  

Yes, the days may be long but the years are short.

As both a father of faith and also a minister of religion I was blessed early last year to baptise my then twelve-year-old daughter .  The baptismal ceremony and subsequent celebration was held just weeks before the pandemic pressed ‘pause’ (or possibly even ‘cancel’) on regular life for most of the world. Jessica’s baptism into Christ – a rite of passage marking the maturing of a believer’s faith – jolted me into a realisation that the days had begun to stop being long and the years were beginning to be short. 

How do I squeeze the last few moments out of being a dad of young children during a worldwide health crisis? The answer for me was to pack up the family home, and take my wife and three young children on a year-long trip around Australia during 2021.

I’m aware that one day I won’t be around. I think about that every time I conduct someone else’s funeral. And I wonder how my kids will remember me in the days and years that follow, and what sort of loving mementos and legacies I shall leave in their lives.

I’m hoping a year together in a tin can, travelling the terrors and beauties of this wide brown land, will provide eternal memories and character-shaping experiences. 

The travel days may be long, but this year will be too short.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord… Blessed is the parent whose life is filled with them”
(Psalm 127)

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JOANNE, KEA, THEODORE, AND JESSICA
THE RILEY RIG (WITH DAVID WATCHING THE SUNSET IN CENTRAL NEW SOUTH WALES)

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is taking a sabbatical year to drag his family around Australia in a caravan. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series that meanders around a series of subjects pondered and stuff seen. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking “follow”.

NO, NOT THAT MANILLA

Manila, the capital city of the Phillipines, has a population almost the size of Australia’s. My last visit to that major Asian city involved me in a taxi having a minor accident with another vehicle on a busy roundabout. When my cab was side-swiped my immediate thought was selfish: “Great… now I’ll have to find another ride…. it’ll take them ages to exchange insurance details!”

My taxi-driver must have sensed my Western inexperience with Filipino ways. He put his hand on my shoulder (I was riding in the front seat like all Australian males should in taxis) and reassured me: “Stay here. This will only take two minutes.” He was wrong. It took a minute before he was back in the cab with a fold of cash he had negotiated from the at-fault driver in the other car.

They do things a little differently in the Manila of the Phillipines.

The Manilla of Australia is where the Rileys spent yesterday afternoon. With a population ten thousand times smaller than its Asian namesake, the Manilla of the Northern Tablelands is better known for rich wheat harvests, and cute lambs playing in paddocks (and apparently my vegetarian kids didn’t really want to know about the fate of those cute little lambs…).

It has the far-too-wide main street that proudly shouts: “We have plenty of space here!”, and also the Art Deco architecture that reminds me of my grandparents. 

Despite this small town becoming world-famous for paragliding, the thriller in this Manilla was to drive our car across the long, narrow bridge high above the Namoi River. Each of the Rileys instinctively breathed in to reduce the width of our Toyota Landcruiser as we edged passed a car coming in the opposite direction. It was such a buzz that at the end of the bridge we did an immediate u-turn and drove straight back over and returned into town.

Afternoon tea in Manilla needed to be had with an elderly great-aunt that Joanne hadn’t seen in three decades. Chocky bickies and lemon lolly-water to hype the kids up, and chats about recent meetings of the local arts and crafts association. Country towns in Australia are all the same, and they’re each uniquely different.

Oh, and I’m sure the town of Manilla in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales does have a taxi somewhere, we just didn’t see it today. 

NO, NOT THAT ONE
MANILLA, NEW SOUTH WALES (45km from Tamworth)
MY ART-DECO FETISH WAS SATIATED IN MANILLA’S MAIN STREET
AT LEAST THIS SCHOOL IS BIGGER THAN THE CARAVAN JOANNE AND I WILL BE HOME-SCHOOLING OUR KIDS IN THIS YEAR
MANILLA’S SKINNY BRIDGE OVER THE NAMOI RIVER

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is taking a sabbatical year to drag his family around Australia in a caravan. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series that meanders around a series of subjects pondered and stuff seen. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking “follow”.

A NEW DAY ARRIVES

I’m re-orienting this Reverential Ramblings blog to provide a written (and occasional visual) account of our year-travelling-around-Australia adventure.

For the year of 2021 I’m dragging my wife Joanne and our three children on a 40,000km circumnavigation of this great southern continent, and we’ll be exploring more than just the geography. And I mean it when I say “dragging”. Joanne was not that keen. It’s taken me over two years of constant nagging and manipulative mansplaining to convince her an odyssey around Oz with our oddball kids was a good idea. Rather than being convinced of the genius of the plan, Joanne eventually agreed…just to shut me up.

God bless her, and God bless the ability of a husband to wear down his wife eventually.

Surprisingly, the kids have also been bland in their response to take a year off mainstream schooling and trek around the world’s largest island with their father. Despite my explanations of old friendships continuing online, and new relationships being made on the road – the three Riley kids have been been slow to embrace my enthusiasm.

So, we’ve packed our home and rented it out, upgraded the car to tow a newly built caravan, and set out in faith that pandemic-related lockdowns would simply set us free to be unhurried in our travels. We’ll allow the Creator of this continent to send us down whatever rock-strewn road He believes an adventure or lesson might await.

I had been saying to the family during our planning of the trip it would take only a month of settling into new routines and daily rhythms before the realisation dawned on them that dad’s idea of a Big Lap around Australia was brilliant. And yet, after our first day of travel over the Great Dividing Range to the town of Tamworth, I’ve come to the realisation that it might take a little longer for some of the family members to come to that dawning. 

However long it takes, I know a new morning will come. 

OUR HOME FOR THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS
THE RILEY TRIBE I’M DRAGGING AROUND OZ FOR TWELVE MONTHS

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is taking a sabbatical year to travel Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read of one man’s sacrifice on the Kwai River in Burma.

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THE DAY MY SON (almost) DIED

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Our youngest child was only six days old when he was rushed to hospital. We were about to discover Theodore had been born with a heart defect causing his pulse to race erratically and dangerously.

In the emergency room at the hospital they hooked our boy up to the ECG monitor. My wife and I knew immediately – by the audible gasps from the medical staff – the situation wasn’t good.

Young Theodore was showing a pulse of 280 beats per minute which is more than double the average infant’s heart rate. A team of three doctors and even more nurses tried a multiple treatments to bring our son’s heart rate down, but nothing was working. There was worry in the room that my infant son could die at any moment.

A medical specialist from a nearby hospital was called in. When she arrived she took a briefing from the existing staff and immediately called for a large bucket of ice-water. Then, this specialist doctor took hold of our six-day-old son and physically turned him upside-down, plunging him headfirst into the bucket of freezing water. She held him there for what seemed like eternity but in reality was only a few seconds – before she pulled Theodore back out of the bucket.

There was no change to our son’s racing heart. 

A second attempt, this time holding him a little longer upside down in the bucket. Everyone’s eyes turned to the monitor. The reading showed a sudden return to a normal heart rate. Relief!

I’ve since learned the human body has a number of natural reflexes that can restart our heart. Cold water on the face and head is one of them, and it’s the only one  feasible for use on an infant child.

According to the Bible all of us have been born with a spiritual heart defect. We have hearts defaulted to selfishness which was not in our Creator’s original design for us. The only way for us to have our heart spiritually restarted is to come to an understanding of the identity of Jesus Christ.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” was the prayer of a king three thousand years ago.* And for thirty centuries it has been the prayer of all repentant believers who have wanted their hearts restarted by God.

May it be your prayer today.

*Psalm 51:10

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read of one man’s sacrifice on the Kwai River in Burma.

David speaking 2

To the Moon and Back

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A true story is told of a nine-year-old boy playing in his home one evening, when his mother gave the usual: “Jimmy, it’s time to get ready for bed.” 

Unlike most kids, Jimmy obeyed his parent the first time his mother made her request, and he went straight upstairs to his room.

An hour or so later his mother came up to check on her son, and to her surprise she found Jimmy sitting quietly by his bedroom window staring upwards. 

“What are you doing, Jimmy?” asked the the young boy’s mother.

“I’m looking at the moon, mum. Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Well, it might be beautiful, but it’s time to get into bed now.”

Jimmy climbed in between his sheets, and his mother kissed him good-night.

“Mum…” began Jimmy, “You know one day I’m going to walk on the moon.” 

“Yes dear,” was Jimmy’s mother’s response. “Now go to sleep.”

Thirty-two years later James “Jim” Irwin became the eighth person to walk on the moon, one of only twelve humans to have ever done so. When James Irwin returned from to Earth from his time in the vastness of space he surrendered his life to Christ. 

Jim Irwin’s time in space looking back at our planet convinced him there must be a Creator of our complex universe.

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The Bible talks about people through history who have had a God-given calling placed on their lives, and then had the courage to follow their Creator’s vision for the remainder of their years. 

The Hebrew Bible’s “Book of Joel” talks about the Creator giving dreams and visions to both the young and the old.*  The challenge for each of us is to be brave enough to recognise when the Lord is calling us (and also giving us a calling). 

What’s God’s vision for the rest of your life?

* Joel 2:28

 

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read the story of an Olympic rower who stopped for ducks.David speaking 2

 

 

“When Every Second Counts”: A story of self-sacrifice

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The story of Aron Ralston climbing through a canyon one day in 2003 was made into an Academy-award nominated movie. Aron was an experienced outdoorsman and confident of his wilderness skills. Perhaps too confident. Aron only planned to be out canyoning just for the day, and so he didn’t think it was necessary to tell anyone where he was going. 

Aron would soon regret that mistake when a boulder came loose while he was descending into a  narrow crevice. The large rock tumbled down and crushed Aron’s right hand against the canyon wall.

Aron spent the next five days unsuccessfully trying to move the 360kg boulder from his arm. He stayed alive by sipping on the small amount of water he had and slowly rationing the snacks he’d brought along for his day-trip.

By the fifth day, Aron Ralston scratched his name and date into the rock – assuming that would be his last day alive. In addition, he made a short video of himself with his camera, saying goodbye to his family. Aron didn’t expect to survive the coming cold night. 

During that night Ralston drifted towards death. He began to hallucinate and had a vision of himself playing with some future yet-to-be-born son. In his dream Aron had part of his right arm missing.

When he woke, alive, the next morning – Aron knew what he need to do in order to survive. The trapped outdoorsman began to cut his own arm off with a small, blunt knife he had in his kitbag. Without any anaesthetic and after 127 hours of being trapped, Aron Ralston hacked through his own skin, flesh, tendons, and bone to free himself. He then rappelled down a twenty metre wall one handed, and then walked ten kilometres out of the canyon. By the time he reached safety he had lost a quarter of his body’s blood.

Aron was crippled for life, but he was alive. A few years later Aron would be the father of a child he feels he dreamed about on the final night when he was trapped by the rock. This incredible story of survival was made into a Hollywood movie called “127 Hours”.

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The story of Aron Ralston has some parallels to the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth, although the major difference in the biblical story of redemption is that Christ’s sacrifice doesn’t free himself but instead frees us.

Let me explain: our Creator knew humanity was trapped by a metaphorical boulder called sin. No matter what we try we can’t free ourselves from the death our sins ultimately bring us. So, in order for us to truly live, Jesus came in human form – and in the process cut off a piece of His own divinity. 

Our Creator actually cut off a piece of Himself in order to rescue you and me – and His body shall forever show the scars of this sacrifice. 

The Apostle Paul understood this sacrifice when he penned the famous words: “Though Jesus was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to keep. Instead, Jesus cut off his divine privileges. He took the humble position of a servant and was born a human – and became obedient to death, even death on a cross – so you and I might truly live.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Hollywood remembered the 127 hours Aron Ralston endured in a lonely canyon – and his sacrificial actions to survive – by making a movie. Even more so we should remember the sacrifice Christ made for us on a lonely hill called Calvary. As His children, we shall one day meet face-to-face the Father who sacrificed so much. It’s our Redeemer’s sacrifice that allows us to live this life free from the heavy stone of sin. 

It’s by His blood we can live eternally.

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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and he lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.

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Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this “Reverential Ramblings” series? Click here to read the strange story of how one orchestra member saved his colleagues from the wild temper tantrums of their world-famous conductor

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