“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them . . .”—1 Thessalonians 5:3
City guests can’t believe how quiet it is at our little hamlet retreat. So close to the turmoil of Sydney, yet incredibly peaceful—particularly for someone who tolerates the incessant drone of the suburbs. The stars are brighter here too—not quite to the luminance of the outback but a far cry from the dulling effect of the bright city lights.
There is no greater time for us to fulfil the gospel commission.
Recently someone wanted to know if it was difficult to get in sync with the “remoteness” of our home—the silence, the darkness, the bush sounds. It’s not a chore for us; but I guess it becomes a real question for those who are used to living with the buzz of the city.
I stood at the window this morning. Without effort I observed a plump kookaburra eyeing off his breakfast; a small flock of swamp fowl grazing on our lawn; a gathering of spectacularly brilliant parrots also grazing on the pickings from our lawn; and several wood ducks frolicking in our dam, radiating mini-tsunami rings across the surface. The magpie, willy wagtail, wren, sulphur-crested cockatoo, bower bird, crane, galah, black cockatoo, pesky myna, hornbill, bellbird, cormorant, water hen . . . and others are not immediately in view. But they are out there. You can hear them.
Feral deer—elegant, timid, destructive—also grace our home surrounds, along with wombats, kangaroos, possums and maybe even the mythical black panther.
Without domestic pets to drive them away, the local fauna feel a sense of safety near our home. In contrast to this serenity, however, are the reports from local and distant points that blare forth disturbing events: dissidents in Iraq causing homeland disarray, bombings and beheadings; kidnappings in Africa—torture, rape and massacre; protesting locals in Rio striving to make the world aware of their poverty, abuse, murder and oppression; the threat of nuclear action from North Korea and Iran; political dissent in Australia over budget cuts; suicide bombings; disgruntled students and employees involved in shooting rampages; floods, storms and “one-in-a-hundred-year” events seemingly ignoring their implied terms of behaviour; racism, class segregation, air and sea disasters, drunkenness, bashings . . . the list goes on and on and on!
I guess there’s an easy solution as I retire from my job in the rat race of life . . . the race that nobody wins. As I retreat to our haven of peace at home, all I need to do is turn off the TV and radio news, and it will all go away. The turbulent events out of earshot will then no longer concern me: out of sight . . . out of mind!
The Scriptures are very clear that the horrendous events that we see on our flat screen TVs should not surprise us. Sure our love and concern for our neighbour must be evident in our lives, but we’ve been warned clearly that these tragedies will come about as signs of the end. As we observe the fulfilment of prophecy, our genuine concern for those who are suffering must go hand-in-hand with the acknowledgement that soon Jesus will come. There is no greater time for us to fulfil the gospel commission.
So what of my comfortable natural surroundings? When the stress and tension of last day events on our lives seem to threaten our resolve, we can step back—particularly on the Sabbath—and know that amidst the turmoil, there are still so many wondrous delights to remind us of God’s creative power, His nurture and love, and His way of stretching our imaginations as to the beauties of the new earth, which is not far away. See you there!
Phillip Lomman writes from Sydney, NSW.