Friday, July 28, 2006

A Father's heart...

It was an overcast day, not really cold, but drizzling. I was about 7 or 8 years old, and I had gone fishing for "Shad" with my Dad on Margate Pier (on the Kwa-Zulu Natal south coast). I remember the frenetic activity, huge, burly men, in oilskins and raincoats. The most wonderful smell of bait sardines still lingers in my nostrils. I remember feeling really small, and tiny amongst these 'giants'. My Dad told me to 'bait up" under the baiting tables, because I couldn't reach. Hands shaking excitedly I slit the sardine down the middle, placed the hook and trace down the spine, and bound it in cotton thread. I was ready!

As I stood up, I realised that my little bamboo fishing rod was really bent, with the weight of the bait and the lead 'sinker'. Never mind, I'd still be able to catch a huge Shad! My Dad just smiled at me, and led me to the front 'kiddies' section of the pier. I looked at my Dad as he waited patiently for me, and then with a mighty, calculated heave I cast my 'load' out to sea. As the line became taut I peered over the side to see my line hanging directly below me, in the water about 2m out from the rocks below.

"Aw no! I'll never catch anything there! I better cast again!"
"No, don't", replied my Dad, "You'll catch something - just be patient."
"Okay" I mumbled, not really convinced.

I saw my Dad weave his way through the fishermen, and the rods, which looked like reeds waving in the wind. Time dragged on..and on...and on. I peered over the side from time to time. Not even a bite! I often thought about reeling in, re-baiting, and casting again, but I trusted my Dad.

Suddenly, the tip of my rod 'dived' down towards the sea. A bite! A big one!

"Dad!" I screamed.
"Dad!" I was besides myself with excitement, shouting, jumping up and down!

I looked frantically from side to side for my Dad, and also noticed (with pride) how fisherman were looking at me, as I battled this monster Shad from the deep. I wound in the wriggling fish, and as I started to panic about how I was going to lift it over the side, a pair of strong hands covered mine, and hauled the beautiful green and silver fish over the rails.

"Dad!""Dad!" I screamed, and laughed, and wanted to cry.

I 'wrestled' my fingers into the gills (with a great deal of effort) and carried my catch and my rod back to the baiting tables. I was so proud! My cheeks were cramping from the smiling! I kept looking at my Dad, and beaming. He had a huge grin on his face.

"Well done", "It's massive!", "It's the biggest one today!" - my Dad kept saying. I thought my heart would burst with pride, and love for my Dad.
It is a very special memory...

Shortly after my Dad's funeral, I was talking to my mother, and I reminisced about that special day. My mother laughed! "Oh yes! I forgot about that! Your Dad caught a big Shad, and he snuck down under the pier. He grabbed your line and re-hooked the fish on to your line."

At first I was shocked, then disappointed, and then angry! It was a lie! I had been tricked!

A while after that I saw it from a different perspective. I saw things through my father's eyes, and I learned some lessons about my Heavenly Father:

  • My Heavenly Father protects me, shields me, and shelters me from my worst enemy - myself.
  • No matter what 'tools', abilities, and talents I have, my Father stands over me - guiding and encouraging me against all odds.
  • My Father is doing things behind the scenes, that I am not aware of. To make things fulfil His will...and to give pleasure to His child, for His Glory.
  • The lack of patience in stressful times, and against logic, can bring about doubt, which in turn could lead to making poor decisions, and hurtful consequences.
  • Trust in God the Father, He always has our best interests at heart. He is an encourager, a 'grower', and a father. He knows what's best, and he see the big picture.
  • My Father in Heaven doesn't reveal all to me at once. He is Truth. His promises are Yes! and Amen! He wants me trust in Him!

So was I deceived? Was one of my fondest childhood memories broken and stained? was enriched by the fact that a father tried to save his son from embarrassment, humiliation, frustration, and defeat. I learned that a fathers love for his son can be unconditional, and that he would endanger himself to provide a moment joy and pride for his son. I learned that my fathers heart on that day...was the Father's heart!

Thanks Dad...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The last drop...

My story begins at the close of an era…

At the end of our last year of High School (1986 was a good year!) the teachers of Sandown High breathed a sigh of relief. Justin Lippiatt (Aka: Billy the Goat) was departing – never to be seen again!

I got into Rhodes University to study my dream – Marine Biology. I was due to register on the15th February 1987. On the 13th February (under the influence of my friend and copious amounts of beer!) I departed for Youngsfield Spa! 10 Anti- Aircraft Regiment was no holiday camp! The day we arrived the CO said that from 1987 Youngsfield, would never be called a Spa again. So began 9 months of hell! Anyway most of the Regiment opted to go to the border of Namibia and Angola. We left in November 1987 and stayed there (with a few visits to Youngsfield) until we demobilised out in Dec 1988. I spent 13 months on the border, and received my Pro-patria medal for more than 6 months active combat duty.

Once I came out of the Army, my father was up to all kinds of nonsense and illegal activities. I helped him in his little ‘ventures’ as his bodyguard until I decided to get my life right. A few months after I moved away from my Dad, he called me from Jeffrey’s Bay and asked me if I would like to come and stay there. I was there in flash. I stayed there for a year and made money as a commercial fisherman on the “chokka” ski-boats. The ‘Old Man’ and I decided to go and live on a Greek island so off we went. We stayed in Greece for a year, (3 months in Athens and 8 months on Kos island) until we were informed that we were going to be arrested for smuggling. We high-tailed it to Cyprus but nearly got arrested for being illegal immigrants. We upped and caught a boat to Haifa in Israel. I started washing dishes and the ‘Old Man’ went to Moshav. This was during the Gulf War and was pretty intense. One guy Steve (a self-proclaimed Satanist) and I used to sit on the balcony of the No.1 hostel in Tel Aviv drinking beer and smoking marijuana while the Scuds blew up in the foreground. Anyway, I met my ex-wife Amanda there, and after going backwards and forwards between England and Israel (a Moshav in between) we got married in England.

We stayed in Southport, Wigan and Surrey before coming back to South Africa. In 1992/3 we left again to go back to the UK where we stayed in Palmers Green (North London), until she left me at the end of 1994. She just couldn’t handle my drinking and my nonsense anymore. I came back to South Africa in December 1995 penniless and emotionally devastated. I stayed with my brother in Durban for a couple of months, then my dad. I then slept rough on the Durban beachfront, in a basement of a bar. I was also selling insurance to low-income earners believe it or not!

The Sandown 10 year reunion was taking place and my old friends dragged me out of the mire and gave me a place to stay. I stayed with one of my friends until I got a job, and met a “psycho-woman” of note. I moved in with her. To cut along story short, she convinced me to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. I went to the Sandton group on Wednesdays, and Randburg on Thursdays. I was their “blue-eyed boy”. Never before had they had the pleasure of having someone who made everyone else look like angels!

It didn’t work for me, in fact after 3 months, I was worse than ever. I met my current wife Barbarah who couldn’t handle my drinking and wild streak either. She told me to get out. I asked her for one more chance, realising that there would never be another. She relented.
Barbarah went to Church in desperation to get answers. She found God. To score brownie points, and to get her off my back, I went too. I met with God. However, the next weekend I went on a binge of note (at least 24-hr blackout!). I desperately asked Barbarah and God for another chance! That Sunday I gave my life to Jesus, and I have never looked back!

I stopped drinking; taking drugs and smoking on the 1st April 1998, and I haven’t touched them again. Barbarah and I got married in October, and my son Gabriel was born a year later in October 1999. Michaela, my daughter was born in February 2002.

My dad could never forgive me for abandoning him for Jesus, and for becoming a Reborn Christian. He was Jewish. He died in June 2000.

God has been so good to me! He has delivered me from my previous lifestyle. He has taught me to be crazy in a good way. He has given me a beautiful wife, 2 wonderful children, and happiness beyond my wildest imagination. I am currently a Senior Manager in the Client Service Division of Nedbank.

I have completed my 3-year Diploma in Theology at the Christian Bible College, and I am completing my studies for the Institute of Bankers. I have been called to be a Pastor, and I look forward to the day I enter into full-time ministry. I am the founder of Footprint Ministries.

All honour, praise, and Glory to God who loves me, and pours out His Grace and favour upon me. Just because He loves me!
I have a lot to be thankful for. For friends who cared. For forgiveness. For Jesus. For the Last Drop of Blood He shed for me, and the Last Drop I drank.

A new thing...

It is a new thing that is happening here. The Lord is directing me to create this Blog: Footprint7. Somehow it will form part of my ministry. I will allow Him to guide me, to direct me, and I will be obedient only to Him.

I was lying in bed last night with Barbarah, and we were chatting about how I was always doomed to fail - to die, broken and defeated. Yet through the Grace of God, through the redemptive and finished work of the Cross, by shedding of His Son's blood for me - I HAVE BEEN SAVED!

It was 8 years ago since I gave my life to the Lord. I would never have believed that my life would have changed so much. I am successful, happy, prosperous, and blessed! I have a beautiful wife, and two wonderful children Gabriel (6) and Michaela (4).

I am blessed! I will continue to serve the Lord God Almighty