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Misreading The Signals

by John Morris

Misreading The Signals - Noticing the warnings

I drive a short wheel base 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) . It was made by the Isuzu organisation in Japan and imported and re-badged as a Holden Jackaroo. It's going great guns and I am very pleased with its worry free performance.

At the beginning of 2007 the Jackaroo came close to having 400,000 kilometres of travel registered on the odometer. I decided that we ought to celebrate the occasion. As luck would have it I reached home one afternoon just short of the  400,000. Around the block twice and the magic number was visible in the dashboard.

I had organized a cake, and with 4 "sparklers" in lieu of candles went out to celebrate the event, and take photos with Zali (grandchild number 3 and my "big girl") in the driveway. We set the camera up on the tripod in front of the 4WD for self timer shots, lit the sparklers and let the camera record the moment for posterity.

Just as we were finishing our moment of fun, along came a lady who lived a little further along our street, and was out on an exercise trip. She saw the sparklers and Zali and stopped to say "Happy birthday" to Zali, who promptly responded "It's not my birthday". The lady was greatly amused to find out that it was the Jackaroo's 'birthday' not Zali's. The lady went on her way with a very amused look on her face and no doubt thinking strange thoughts of this particular 4WD driver. She had quite innocently misread the signals.

I have been guilty of misreading the signals. In a complete contrast to my current vehicle, the second car that we owned was a Fiat 500 (Bambino) which would almost fit into the back of the 4WD. The 500 was small, but very economical. It ran on the smell of an oily rag. It was great to park being able to slip into those tight spaces where larger vehicles were wasting space by putting 2 cars into the space where they could have parked 3. The power plant was an air cooled 2 cylinder 4 stroke engine located in the back of the vehicle. The car was light weight. Just before completing the purchase, I took the car to a mechanic mate of mine (Ian by name) to get him to do a quick check of the vehicle. He and his offsider got on one end of the car and lifted it up in the air and said "Here you are mate, have a good look".

The dashboard was something nothing. A small instrument pod in the centre showed the speed and nothing much else. Oil safety was "assured" by a small light that came on when the oil pressure dropped. The light was small and hard to read in bright light conditions. One afternoon, the light came on during the drive home from work. I thought that I could get home and then drop in to the service station in the morning for some additional oil.

Next morning I failed to notice the light and drove to work and back home again without any problems. The following morning was a different storey. I got 200 metres away from home and the engine died. It just stopped. It took me a little while to check a few things and then I noticed the oil light. It was on and immediately the light went on in the brain, engines do not run well without oil. It was really amusing to see the Bambino up on the back of the tow truck. If Ian and his mate had been there they could have picked up the Bambino and dropped it on the back of the truck without the lifting equipment.

The signal was there, I missed it totally, and it cost me. New bearings and gaskets went in, the oil leak was stopped, the bank balance went down but, thankfully,  I never again got to see that light go on while driving.

On another occasion I had business to transact in Canberra, the nation's capital. I was on my way by car down the Hume Highway and enjoying the drive until I started to notice the tell tale signs that suggested I ought to stop and have a rest. My eyes wanted to close, my concentration dropped, and I was constantly yawning. I read the signals correctly and did the right thing deciding to stop and have 20 minutes of sleep. I began to look for a place where I could safely pull over. Places to stop are not all that close and when you are traveling at the speed limit of 110 km per hour in traffic, you can miss a stopping bay or perhaps a narrow road entrance where there would be no traffic to worry about.

I saw a spot where there was a farm entry and some space to stop under a couple of big trees. After checking for following traffic I stopped fairly quickly and pulled into the open area that was the start of the secondary or local road. I was about to put the seat back and the head down when the head and shoulders of a policeman appeared beside the driver's window.  I was non-plussed. I had not been speeding. I had signaled my turn off the freeway. I had been driving in the left lane before stopping and could think of no reason for a visit from the police. The police are not in the habit of stopping people to congratulate them on their good driving performance.

Unknown to me, there was a radar trap a little further down the road and I had happened to stop right in the detection area. My relatively sudden stop had them thinking that I had a radar detector fitted to the vehicle. They came over to check on my vehicle fit out. The fine for using a radar detector is large.

The result was my instant awakening. The adrenalin kicked in, thoughts of sleep went out the window. I did not need any further rest, and promptly but demurely left the location.

On another occasion in Darwin for business again, I had rented a Mini Moke for a drive down to Katherine on Sunday morning. I rose around 4.00 am and set off. There was not another vehicle around in the city and I decided to experiment. I wanted to see if, when stopping at the traffic lights, I could position the Moke not in the middle of the lane as you are supposed to do, but evenly straddling the lane markers.

After trying over 2 or 3 sets of traffic lights, a police car pulled up beside me, and I was given the once over. No doubt the constabulary thought that here was a case of driving under the influence.

In both these cases the police read signals from my actions and drew conclusions that were not unreasonable  in the circumstances but were a mis-reading because they did not have the full information set. We parted company amicably in both cases.

The world is full of signals today

The environment is "going to pot". Australians have recently been advised that instead of the 100 year drought cycle, we had better get used to having droughts effectively continually. The Murray-Darling basin is suffering as a result and the impact on the farming community is enormous as is the flow on to the rest of the economy. The carbon trading scheme is unlikely to generate any real benefit. Europe and the United States are having a mixed bag of suffering. Major flooding has been experienced in the midwest of the United States and at the same time there have been major forest fires on the west coast. Europe has had major flood disasters. The world has had its eyes on China where in the year of the Olympics the nation has had to face a major earthquake in Sichuan with some 70,000 deaths sadly with many of these being school students. The Bible describes the world as wearing out, just like garments. (Isaiah 51:6)

The world has political disasters on its hands. Zimbabwe has fallen in a heap and no one is game to do anything concrete about it or its dictator leader. The Burmese junta is tying the hands of agencies which are ready and waiting for the opportunity to get into the country to relieve the suffering caused by the recent cyclone. Pictures smuggled out disclose great suffering and we cannot do anything about it. Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan are other examples of people suffering as a result of political greed.

Political instability is current. We do live in the lucky country. Israel is making noises about taking the initiative and bombing those areas of Iran where it is believed that nuclear weapon technology is being developed. Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz to shipping should it be attacked. The world would lose ½ of its oil supply if this happened, there would be economic catastrophe. The current high oil prices would be merely a nuisance in comparison.

Political integrity is almost nil. Branch stacking and election fraud are rife the world around. Core promises are not kept. Politicians are scaled down with used car salesmen in surveys of public opinion.

What is going on?  Try reading Matthew 24 for the only logical answer.  Jesus said before the end of the world there would be famines and earthquakes in various places, pestilences, distress among nations, wars and rumours of wars, and nations rising against nations. "Expect it" he said. Paul in his second letter to his protégé Timothy drew his attention to the state of the people and relationships in the last days. "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…" 2 Tim 3:15 ** and the descriptive list goes on.

Yet we have become used to it.  We try to save the situation by carbon trading, peace talks, a "save the whale" programme, a conference here, self-development programmes there. The problems are assessed as temporary and the world assumes, that given time, they can be fixed.

Don't misread the signals - we cannot save the situation. Time is running out. God offers the only solution to the world's crises - an enduring hope for today and a promise of renewal of both self and our struggling world. Jesus said I am preparing a place for you and I will come  back and take you to be with me - guaranteed!  John 14:1-3


Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zonderman Bible Publishers

This article and the pictures it contains are Copyright © 2008 by John L Morris.  Used by permission.

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