Under the Southern Cross

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The Southern Cross is a small constellation in the southern sky that can be relied on as it never dips below the horizon. Sailors used the Southern Cross to get their bearings and to plot a course to their chosen destination.

There were those who resisted the authorities in the 1800’s who fought under the Southern Cross flag, a flag of freedom, a flag opposed to the tyranny of those who would inflict unjust taxes.

It may appear insignificant but the Southern Cross has been given a place of prominence on our national flag and as such speaks to our identity.

Our son Adam was committed to sharing his faith in God. One of the ways he did this was to preach in public places. A favoured spot was outside Southern Cross railway station in Melbourne. We have a photo of him standing on his stool delivering his message. Some “sympathetic” onlookers gave him the title, “Preacher Boy.”

Adam Preaching 3

I don’t know how effective Adam’s preaching was. I imagine it is difficult addressing a moving mass of people who are intent on catching their train. I wonder sometimes at the personal cost of putting yourself out there, subject to people’s indifference, embarrassment or abuse. It has the potential to undermine your self confidence, not to mention your belief in humanity. Such activity has a way of pushing you to the margins and exposing your vulnerabilities.

I would have liked to ask Adam why he felt compelled to preach in public and what it was he hoped to achieve. I know his message was uncompromising but preaching is not without its personal challenges. It all has to do with accountability. Effective preaching flows from a life that has wrestled with the implications of the truth you are sharing. If your focus is on God’s judgement then your life will come under God’s scrutiny and your motivation will not escape His probing.  It was apparent in the final months of Adam’s life that he felt he had failed God. He lacked the assurance that he was accepted and forgiven.

God’s word is ever present but we must desire it and be free of earthly entanglements to seek it. God’s liberating and life preserving word is present in the symbol of the Southern Cross for God promises to be our Guide as we navigate the turbulent seas of life; He is present in our personal struggles, particularly our striving for fairness and justice; and He gladly affirms our identity as His much loved child.

To be under the Southern Cross is to be under God’s watchful eye which is both comforting and reassuring.

Author: Bruce Rickard

Reflections on Suicide and Staying Alive: My son's suicide changed everything. I felt an obligation to understand why anyone would want to end their life. My regular blog posts explore the causes and prevalence of suicide and what is needed to sustain a healthy mind and a hope-filled future.

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