Friday, February 21, 2020

A Dog's Eye: Choosing your fights

The oft fought battle between governments and individuals under their authority is usually referred to as a contest between David and Goliath. Everyone is familiar with the story of the brave shepherd boy who defeated the giant Philistine of whom the whole Israeli army was fearful.

David's argument in favour of taking on the spear wielding behemoth was that he was insulting God. Many men throughout history have waged wars to uphold God's honour believing they were directed to do so by God himself. The debate about this aspect of an allegedly loving God and his apparent warmongering has been raging for centuries.

The point is there are numerous examples in the Bible of out-numbered armies being victorious. The men who fought these battles drew courage from their faith, and earnestly believed that God wanted them to win and was calling them to fight. Popular modern thought labels such men zealots at best, or extremists at worst. Terrorists are at the very edge of this continuum of fundamentalism.

Leaving aside the issue of war and terrorism, and moving back to the topic of man versus the state, the same principle applies. People of faith like me, live as though God directs our steps. We pray for his leadership in our lives, for strength and solace in times of need, and for wisdom in times of decision making. Our question sometimes boils down to this: do I fight or stand down? Do I take up this cause? Should I do everything I can possibly do to solve this problem? Or do I wait and see what God will do?

On the 7th of December, 2018, my wife and I engaged the services of a lawyer and lodged an application for a sponsored partner visa. It was very expensive (the visa alone cost around $10000) and we could not have done it without the help of my mum. We followed procedure exactly, taking advice from our lawyer and completing each step of the process as required. There were long periods of waiting, but we knew it was going to take at least a year and maybe longer. We were prepared for that, and although at times it was very difficult, we were patient.

We didn't push anything or move outside of what we were instructed to do because we trusted the process and we trusted God. In January 2020, we had completed the application process and were informed by the department of immigration they were now ready to proceed, in other words to grant the visa. As it was an offshore application, my wife and children would need to leave Australia for the visa to be granted. Coinciding with the Tet festival, they travelled to Vietnam for three weeks, during which time we expected the visa to be granted. It wasn't.

I knew something was wrong, and I started to feel uncomfortable about just waiting. Friends were advising me to kick the can by contacting the department or the local federal member of parliament. Initially, I was reluctant to do this because we had only ever followed the process and waited. The question arose: should I continue to simply wait or should I take up the fight?

To cut a long story short, I decided to fight. A representation was made to the department by our federal member on our behalf which resulted in an explanation from a senior migration official, and an apology for the delay. Later that same day, we received another letter from the department saying that my wife and the children should leave Australia so the visa could be granted.

They were in Singapore transiting to Ho Chi Minh city when the visas were granted. It seems as though our intervention forced things along, although we can't be sure. Our very experienced lawyer described the final six weeks or so of the process as very unusual. His opinion on our intervention was that it would be unlikely to succeed but it couldn't hurt to try. I shared his view, but we were wrong.

Obviously, we are ecstatic. Our children can start at school and we can begin to establish some normalcy in our life, whatever that means exactly. We thank and honour God for this victory and for our entire love story which continues to prosper.

Now, however, I am faced with another struggle; this time against the tax department who illegally took tax payments from me, but didn't tell me anything until they had stripped me of around two and half thousand dollars. I've been waiting for the promised refund for over two months now. When I call them I get nowhere. Do I fight them? Or stand and wait?

This David is gearing up for another possible battle with Goliath. Excuse me, please. I'm off to find a few choice stones to do the job.

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