Most readers would know by now that the Porter family reside in the beautiful Land Down Under, otherwise known as Australia (not to be confused with the other beautiful, but much smaller Land Down Under, New Zealand).
Australia holds the dual honour of being both the largest island in the world and also the smallest continent. That may not mean much in the big scheme of things, but it's a fact that's drilled into every young Aussie's brain during their early school years.
Of course there's also the rather obvious fact that we live on the other side of the planet to the greatest percentage of the world's population. Even though we do share the Southern Hemisphere with such giants as South America and South Africa, they are still connected to their northern "relatives" by land. We, on the other hand, sit in the middle of a couple of oceans and a few seas, pretty much on our own ... and to be honest, I don't think I hear anyone complaining.
But it would be nice to be noticed occasionally.
Oh, I don't mean the big event things, like winning the America's Cup back in 1983; or staging the Olympics in 2000; or even when our lovely Nicole Kidman won an Oscar in 2003. What I actually mean is when artists and photographers create images of the earth, it would be kind of nice if every now and then they thought to take it from an angle that showed the Oceania region.
Yoo-hoo! Hello up there! The earth does actually revolve a full 360 degrees and when it does we're down here waving, smiling and saying, "Cheese".
It's not like we're going to mess up the pictures either. I mean I don't want to blow our own trumpet or anything, but hey, we're a pretty cute little continent, don't you think?
Cute or not, I must admit to occasionally allowing a little touch of "northern envy" to creep into my thoughts. That's when I start imagining a world where the first cartographers were from south of the equator and their maps positioned Australia beautifully at the top of the world. Upside down yes, but right at the top.
Ah, but of course then reality bites with the obvious fact that our cartographers must have just been so contented to stay at home in our perfect part of the planet, that when the world was first being charted they missed the opportunity to put us in our rightful position.
Such is life. It's a "burden" we'll just have to live with and now, as I take a moment to remove my tongue from where it's been planted firmly in my cheek, I have to say that living down under is really no burden at all.
If we are actually living relatively upside-down by comparison to the rest of the world, the wonderful thing is that we don't feel it. Praise God He created gravity!
I can honestly say that I just walked out to the letterbox to collect the mail and I didn't once feel as though I was about to fall off the ground (in an upwards direction) and the blood certainly wasn't rushing to my head. For all intents and purposes, we southerners feel exactly the same as those of you from the north.
Oh, apart from the fact that our water goes down the drain in the opposite direction ... but that's a different matter altogether.
Having said that though, I must add that there have actually been quite a few times lately where I've been left feeling more than a little topsy-turvy. It hasn't had anything to do with living in Australia or south of the equator and it hasn't been due to any problems with my middle-ear or sense of balance.
The reason for that occasional feeling of topsy-turviness is packaged very neatly into one extremely energetic 16-year-old boy -- in other words, our son, Matthew.
You see Matt has become a hand-standing maniac. It seems that almost every time I turn around, I find myself looking directly into his ankles!
But he doesn't stop at just upending himself. Matt actually goes for quite long walks around the house on his hands as well. I can hear him making his way through the kitchen by the soft "plip, plop" sound of his palms slapping gently on the vinyl flooring. Sort of like my memories of Astroboy walking down a corridor in the old 1960's cartoon series.
I have to say that my son's enthusiasm for this new trick and his ability to perform it, leaves me in awe. I have enough trouble getting onto my feet from the floor, let alone trying to turn upside-down (something I wouldn't even dream of attempting!). Even more amazing, at least from this very unathletic mother's point of view, is when he propels himself from his knees straight into a hand-stand. To borrow a very English saying, it leaves me gobsmacked!
So for now, Matt is quite happy spending time in his upside-down world. The good thing is that he can very easily switch back to being the right way around, which is just as well because the human body wasn't designed to spend great lengths of time walking around on its hands.
When Matt pushes his limits a little too far, he ends up with a few aches and pains that remind him to come back to earth and stay there for a while. On top of that, he also goes quite red in the face, which I assume is due to all the blood rushing to what is the lowest point in his body at that time. That's when he gracefully restores his equilibrium, returns his feet to the floor and lives to be upside-down another day. After all, as much as he enjoys his moments of hand-standing, he definitely doesn't want to live like it 24 hours a day.
Strangely enough though, I've come to realise that not everyone is quite so aware when they're living in an upside-down world. In fact, these days a very large percentage of the planet's population are living exactly like that ... and they don't all inhabit the southern hemisphere.
There have always been people living "upside-down" when it comes to the truth. Yet, in fairly recent years there seem to be more and more people choosing to play "topsy-turvy" with their thinking -- particularly with regard to their attitudes, beliefs and morals.
One by one the upside-down are leading the upside-down into a life that embraces a completely contrary viewpoint of God's world and His perfect truth. Not only that, but from that upturned vantage point, everything possible is done to knock down those who are standing righteous-side up.
The more I see this attitude taking hold, the sadder I become. However having said that, I have to admit that it doesn't really surprise me. After all, it was Jesus who said:
Thatís why it's not surprising that more and more people are choosing to live in their upside-down world, even though to do so is totally contrary to the way they were created to live and ultimately brings pain and destruction. Every single one of us has a choice to live right-side up in the light of God's truth, or upside-down in the darkness of sin.
It sounds like such a no-brainer doesn't it? Yet so many have chosen, and continue to quite willingly choose, the darkness ... while actually believing that they're standing up straight in the brightest of light.
From the world's point of view, those of us who have received Christ as our Lord and Saviour, are the ones who are living upside-down and out of step with the rest of society.
However the truth is that a Christian's attitude is just a little bit like an Australian's. What we as Aussies would like to think about our position geographically, we as Christians know as a spiritual fact. That is that we are living the right way around and best of all, that we're actually positioned at the very top, not the bottom. In fact, as the children of God, we couldn't get any closer to the top because we are, after all, positioned right next to Christ and seated with Him in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6)
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