Sunday, April 24, 2011

Memories of Greg

I met Greg in my third year of Medicine. He was a year ahead of me but had taken a year off that year.
When I think of our first encounter, I think he broke the ice, me being on the shy side, and the newcomer. We were sharing a car trip back from a weekend away, a spiritual retreat we called a “house party”.
His voice was gentle, light, his eyes were kind and alive. He had a calm smile.
There was a light shower as we drove over the hills close to Chatswood, and a rainbow appeared.
He said that he loved rainbows as they were God’s promise never to destroy mankind again by flood.
His love for God came through.
I was awkward, but also newly alive in faith, and I realized at that point that he loved me in the Lord. What a gift.
Not long after this I struggled with legalism. People from cultish churches with strong arguments, had shaken me. I felt as though I was unsaved, not meeting the stringent requirements they presented, from what seemed to be a strong biblical perspective.
I had discussed my struggle with a number of my spiritual superiors at University. People either higher in years, or longer in the faith. I presented the verses that were presented to me, and asked for help. They tried but failed to help me, and I felt very much alone and unsaved. Somehow, I got speaking with Greg.  (I didn’t see him often at this stage). He calmly explained that I should listen to a tape he owned. Recorded on it was a man named Geoff Bingham, speaking on grace.
I gratefully accepted the gift and as I drove home I put it in the cassette player.
As I listened, I became totally absorbed with the preaching of a fallen race, in the grip of sin, unable to satisfy the perfect demands of God’s law. I saw myself, lost, hopeless, unworthy. And then I saw the cross. A quiet, beautiful and pure man carried all of my troubles and destroyed them. I learnt a new word. GRACE.
I think I stopped driving and sat in silence, awed by God and his great love for me.
This little tape Greg gave me turned everything I was suffering into joy. I listened to this tape over and over, shared it with friends, giving it away in the end.
I had to learn all I could from this man whom Greg had introduced me to, and I did.
I can never repay the kindness that Greg showed me on that day.

By 1987 we were in the same year, in the same core study group, at the same hospital. We met each week for bible study. We played table tennis in the student building. We shared meals. We were blessed in the friendship we had in Christ.
One day Greg asked if he could play me a song he had written.
He sat at the piano, and started to play and sing for me the words of psalm 96 which he had arranged into a beautiful song.  He explained how the song had seemed to flow out from him as a gift from God.
I was immediately touched by the beauty of this song.
He told me a friend from his church was going to record that song as part of a CD he was putting together. He invited me to come to the studio in the Blue Mountains later that year, where I heard Greg sing on the recording on that amazing 16 track tape machine. I also listened to the flute solo being added at the end. I was an awestruck fly on the wall.
This was my first ever experience of a recording studio. It was also my first introduction to worship song writing.
That song and that particular recording has blessed thousands of people in Australia. What a privilege for me to have been there at its early stages and to see God’s hand at work, spreading the impact of that song. I have never grown tired of singing or leading that song.
It’s only now that I realise that Greg was for me, a song writing mentor.
How I would have loved to have continued sharing my own song writing journey with him.

With the Lord
We both married and graduated and settled a long distance from each other. He became a rehabilitation specialist, myself a country GP.
Late in 1998, Greg rang me to tell me he was seriously ill. Apparently the first symptoms happened while he was enjoying some touch football. And at the time didn’t seem too serious, but later showed otherwise. Still he sounded ready to fight with all he had.
I was holidaying probably in March 99, when I thought I should ring to organise a time to meet up.
Sadly and awkwardly I learnt that that day was the day of his funeral.
I had missed seeing him once more, but look forward to the Day when all that we hope for is fulfilled.

No comments: