Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 42 - August/September 2011 > The Sabbath Keeping Axe (by Pr George Porter)

The Sabbath Keeping Axe

by Pr George Porter

The Sabbath Keeping Axe

It all began after World War 2 ended. Our father noticed an advertisement in the Australian Church paper "The Record". In the article a Mr Brinsmead was encouraging city Adventists to move to the country, to escape the corrupting influences of the world.  The locality was under the McPherson ranges 30 miles North West of Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales.  Our Dad transferred our Mum and we two brothers to a spot just under the border tick gate in Upper Nunimbah.  Dad's plan was to join Brinsmead's and another Adventist family, to grow bananas and small crops for market. We brothers were both under ten years of age when we arrived.  During the next couple of years we learned to work the land with men like the men.  We learned how to use various tools to clear the land and how to nurture the crops for market.

Our hut was at the end of a little bush road almost at the foot of the huge range which towered above us.   We were about 5 kms north of the home of the Brinsmead family.   About 3km to the east of us was a dairy farm which was owned by a Mr Bernie Shoobridge.  Every Sabbath my brother and I would walk the bush road past Mr Shoobridge's junction road on our way to church at the Brinsmead home.   We loved their big boys. They were all very good to us. We really enjoyed Ma Brinsmead's food which she gave us every Sabbath, especially her sumptuous fruit cake and fresh scalded cream.  Yummy, yummy, yummy!  Often the visiting Pastors, including Pa Brinsmead, would preach until 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon while we tried to wait for lunch!   Ma was wonderful because she knew growing boys needed food including fruit cake and cream. To ease our pain she would take us to the back of the huge family room used as a church and set up a table of food for us. So, we had a feast of the Word and a feast of Ma's good food at the same time.

One particular week we experienced a severe storm accompanied by boisterous winds which felled many trees in the district.  Fortunately, the Sabbath arrived sunny and bright so my brother and I put on our Sabbath best and set off walking to church.  Just after we had passed Mr Shoobridge's junction road we rounded a bend in the road and discovered a huge stringybark tree blocking our way.  While we were contemplating how we were going to get through or over the giant we heard Mr Shoobridge's old truck approaching.  Soon he came face to face with the tree which halted him in his path.  He had a load of calves on board and was on his way to Saturday cattle sales in Murwillumbah.  After climbing out of his truck he stood with a most frustrated look on his face.  He looked so disappointed. He also showed signs of pain as he tried to comfort his arm which was in a sling.

"This is so annoying, boys", he grumbled.  "I have to be at the sales in an hour and I desperately need the cash."    He continued, "Now, one of you boys run home and get your axe and please cut enough tree off the road so I can get to the market sales".

We brothers looked at each other and rolled our eyes, each knowing that it was Sabbath and that we were off to church.  We slowly announced, "We do not work on God's Sabbath day."

Mr Bernie was furious.  He told us what he thought of us and our Sabbath and pleaded with us to please fetch the axe and put it to work as quickly as our arms and legs could go.  He roared, "I know you can do it. I know you fell trees and clear land.  Don't just stand there. Get going now!"

Plucking up courage I replied, "Mr Shoobridge, we know it is important to you, but our axe does not work on God's Sabbath."  Mr Shoobridge was almost exploding with frustration as he circled us while desperately resisting to use his good arm to teach us a Sabbath lesson!

The Holy Spirit intervened and I said,  "Mr Shoobridge, "Please take your calves home and tomorrow we will clear all the tree off the road for you.  Then you can go to the Wednesday calf sales and we are sure that our God will give you a much better price for your calves. Probably double your money. Please believe us.  Now we must be off to church or we will be late.  All the best Mr Shoobridge."

Mr Shoobridge did get his calves to the market the next Wednesday.   A few days later he calmly explained to us that when he reached the market, he found that there were not many calves for sale.  However, there were many buyers desperate to purchase good fat beasts.

Then he explained, "You boys must have known something.  I was able to double my earnings. Last Saturday when I missed the market, calves sold for $5 but on Wednesday, because of the short supply, I received $10 dollars for each calf. By the way boys, thank you for removing the tree."

"That's alright Mr Shoobridge, we told you that would happen," replied the boys. 

The boys and the dairy farmer parted company that day and nothing was ever said again.  However, Mr Shoebridge never forgot the words, "tree"  "God's Sabbath"  "axe"   and "double your money."  He could not get out of his mind those boys who would not budge on their loyalty to God's Sabbath.

Many years passed and the writer ended up at Avondale College to be trained for the full-time ministry.  During those years he made several visits back to the far north coast to visit family, friends and the school teacher who would one day be his wife and support in God's work.   On one such occasion it coincided with a combined district church meeting at Murwillumbah. After the meeting I noticed a man making a determined effort to reach me through the crowd.  I eyed him up and down.  A shock of joy surged through my soul.  Could I ever forget that face?  "What is he doing here", I mused to myself? Then he was right with me.

"Do you remember me? he asked.  

"How could I ever forget? I replied.   

Bernie Shoobridge went on to explain how he had never forgotten the boys and the axe that refused to work on God's Sabbath.  How he had doubled his money on the deal.  After shifting to Uki, he read a notice in the paper of a visiting SDA Evangelist who was going to speak on Bible Topics including the Sabbath.  He felt compelled to attend.  He never missed a night of the entire campaign.  

He continued,   "It all made sense, George. Thanks to you brothers for not working on Sabbath.  I am sure glad your axe would not work on Sabbath either.  I have given my life to God and have been baptized becoming a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church."

What a joyful reunion we experienced on that combined Sabbath. What joy flooded our souls. Praise and glory all belong to our God Family, who knew how to contact Bernie -  two boys, one huge tree, one axe, His Sabbath and a faithful local church and their Evangelist.

This article is Copyright © 2011 by George Porter.  Used by permission.

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