I still remember going to the KNP with part of my in-laws large family. They were 9 kids too like us back home. Back then in the late eighties we had such a good time in Skukuza and surrounds, that I still hold that place to be one of my most favourite spots on earth. It was a great holiday and most delightful time of transition from being a bachelor to married life even as we travelled daily from camp to camp. Anyway, my father-in-law later on did move about much. He stayed put and more or less at home in Moya Avenue and tried to make sure, that our visits there were at least as pleasurable and enjoyable as those early days with the Scharlachs in the bushveld. Later in life my late dear father-in-law used to quip, that holidays are expensive, strenuous and far too much trouble. He didn’t like change anymore. He was content in his comfort zone with workshop and study and very much at ease and at home there with his dear Ingrid, who stayed at his side day in day out for all those years.
It took years and many decades even to get to this peaceful and stationary existence though. Just thinking of him as a young soldier traversing Europe during the terrible war, fighting in Warsaw, Monte Cassino and seeing Dresden demolished. After his studies in Bleckmar he quit Europe and found a new home and citizenship in South Africa. He was very happy to remain in Lüneburg for as long as they would have him and he too would have liked to stay on as president of the synod and also as pastor of the congregation. It did not work out that way, but better.
He was called to serve with me in Wittenberg for another decade and he served in Panbult well into his retirement age. So again, he constantly travelled from Jagdrift to Wittenberg and Panbult and back again – week for week. Vryheid and Newcastle were also added to his list during this time. He was happy to carry out this service. He liked driving fast and didn’t mind distances either, never complaining about those terrible dirt roads, nor the deteriorating tar ones either although he had more than his fair share of punctures and even write-offs on those trips. Once one of his tyres came off and passed him, bouncing ahead on the way to iDumbe as his mother was still travelling with him. Nothing bad came of it, they parked next to the road and had it fixed in due course. Or when travelling to his in-laws in Dalton and a guinea fowl broke through the windscreen. The improvised plastic covering could hardly keep out any rain and they reached their destination drenched and cold. No wonder his eldest daughter is hardly ever fazed by such calamities on the way. It’s just part of life – or a change is as good as a holiday as they say. Still, it must have been a great joy, when they moved finally to were most of his children lived at that time. It always was his joy and solace, when he was surrounded by his dearly beloved ones and they were happily united under one roof.
I think, that the last 10 years or so, he settled down and waited to go home to where his final abode had already been prepared by his faithful Lord and master long ago. He was in no hurry and enjoyed ice cream to the very end. However, he had seen his fair share of life and was now “alt und lebenssatt.” That doesn’t mean tired, bored or discontent, uneasy, troubled – rather he was at peace, content with his lot and didn’t miss this or that tick on a bucket list, which he never put up anyway. He didn’t need a change from his routine with a holiday, because his days were holy days in the sense of a continuous life in God’s sight – as it had been for many years.
I think, that’s the goal in life to reach this stage. You can’t find it before you get there eventually. It takes time. It takes grace and God’s goodness and mercy. God’s daily service in word, hymns and prayer and weekly nurture through the most precious blood and body of our Lord Jesus Christ. The triune God thus brings forth lots of good fruit for eternal life in those, who remain in him like the branches of a vine. The man, who is nurtured in this way flourishes like a tree planted at flowing streams bringing forth fruit patiently and plentifully – according to his Lords plan and good will.
Tomorrow we’ll hear again of God calling Abraham out of his family to show him the promised land and make him father of many nations too. We’ll hear, how our Lord IX calls his first disciples and how St.Paul writes about this precious calling of our Lord into his ministry to the Corinthians. The change our Lord IX worked in us through his holy ministry culminating back then outside of Jerusalem has granted us the holiday and everlasting rest in his eternal Fatherly home, that grants peace, belonging and godly family everlasting – here and now already. The watchword from Ephesians 2:8 will confirm and strengthen our confession to which we all have been called: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God!” Thank God for his saving grace and Hallelujah to him now and always. Amen.