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Warcry: Unseen guidance

Ian Abbot tells his story to Warcry Ian Abbot says God has been patient with him over the years.

I moved to Darwin in 1985 after living and working in the family business in Adelaide. I love the Top End weather and lifestyle. I have been fortunate to have a loving family, established a successful business and contributed to my community over the past 30 years— my thanks for what the community has given me.

The Salvation Army has always been a part of my life and my parents instilled a strong respect for the Salvo ethos. I did not have a faith but abided by the principles of Christian life, so when I become an alderman on the City of Palmerston Council and ultimately mayor, I had regular contact with many church organisations as they are an essential to a growing community. 

I am privileged to have shared great friendships with many Salvo officers (ministers) and members. I have both witnessed and encouraged the love and care The Salvation Army has instilled in the community. 

It is ironic that my father who was instrumental in my morals and values, who steadfastly refutes God’s existence, laid the foundation to my faith. 

On reflection I was reared with a set of contradictions—on one hand I was taught to question everything and have an open mind to new ideas; yet on the other hand that concepts, like God was more a cultural myth and propaganda. Hence I was too conflicted to admit or accept that I had a faith and the opportunity to have a relationship with God.

I was blessed with three beautiful children; though my first marriage failed. I was given a second chance and found in Ana a lady of deep enduring pragmatic faith; a lady who saw right through me, knew my heart better than I did, who gave me time and space to grow. Ana’s love and faith is unconditional, absolute. 

Ana without even trying, stripped my excuses bare,  and simply by her actions opened the door, showed me what my dear Salvo friends Lee-Anne and Arnold, Robert and Vanessa, Pete and Jo already knew and waited for me to catch up.

I used to play golf with my good mate, then Lieutenant now Major, Robert Evans, we would have the best time ribbing each other about our golf standard and debating God’s existence—him for and me against—all while I complained bitterly that Robert was using ‘higher powers’ to assist his golf game. We did this for several years, but I wasn’t listening. Thankfully Robert was. Robert and God never judged or lost faith in me. They knew the outcome.

The Lord has always been guiding my life. I was just too stubborn to see, let alone acknowledge his efforts. God has been very patient with me.

Just over a year ago I gathered a group of Salvation Army officers together, who I also call close friends, along with my wife to a pizza place somewhere in Melbourne to bear witness to something they already knew about me. That I was a Christian but didn’t know it yet! 

I have lived a charmed life, a healthy happy family, a successful business, mayor of a wonderful community, a roof over my head, all surrounded by loving family and friends. I was master of my own destiny. Why did I need God? I thought I had everything. I came to realise that my everyday life was a miracle, and the only reason for that was God’s grace.

All my life I was waiting for a bright light, a burning bush, the voice from God, but I have experienced them all! They were—no— are still with me every day, in my wife, my children, friends, work and community.

I still have a long way to go in understanding faith and prayer and how it fits into my day-to-day life. It is like starting again, it feels right, brings a lump to my throat just thinking about how daunting, exciting this relationship with the Lord will be. I am safe in the palm of God’s hand.

Other stories from Warcry

To read other stories from past issues of WarCry, click here.