If you lived in Australia during the 1980s you’d be very familiar with the story of Lindy Chamberlain. The New-Zealand born Australian woman was camping in Uluru with her family in a public campground when, during the night, her nine-week-old daughter Azaria disappeared from their tent. Lindy had seen a dingo coming out of the tent, and when she checked on her daughter she was gone. Dingo prints were found, and there was blood in the tent, but people soon started spreading rumours about the nature of Azaria’s death and the possibility of Lindy being responsible. The first Coroner’s Inquest confirmed that a dingo had killed her, but the verdict was later overturned. Lindy was forced to spend three years in prison before finally managing to prove her innocence and receiving complete exoneration. In 1992 she received $1.3 million compensation from the Australian government for wrongful imprisonment. As the result of a fourth inquest in 2012, an Australian coroner made a ruling that a dingo dog had taken baby Azaria from the campsite in 1980 and had caused her death.
This week I had the privilege of hearing Lindy speak at an event held by Hillsong Church. What most struck me was her opening statement to the women gathered: “You probably came here expecting me to tell my story, but I’m not going to.” She went on to explain: “What we learn is far more important than what we go through.”
Throughout her talk, Lindy proved the truth of this statement as she shared wisdom no doubt honed by the hardship she’d endured. She spoke about the impact of unforgiveness on our lives, and the freedom that comes when we release our bitterness and resentment to God. A Christian since her early teens, Lindy’s faith has sustained her through intense periods of grief, opposition, scrutiny, and imprisonment.
One of her final remarks was: “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn’t.” She urged us to hold onto the Word as our lifeline, just as she did during her time behind bars.
I loved spending the morning soaking up Lindy’s words. Yes, I imagined what her life must have been like in those horrifying years. But the lessons she’d learnt and the love she had for God was much larger than her story.
Our stories and experiences can be used to impact others, yes, but we don’t have to remain in bondage to the pain, shame, and destruction they have wrought upon our lives. We have a choice to either stay in the past, or move on towards the greater hope that is found in Jesus Christ. And when we are truly His, we begin a new story. We remember the past, yes, but are far more focused on the future He has mapped out for us.
“To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”
(Isaiah 61:3 NLT)
“A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn’t.” What a wonderful quote! (I just tweeted it with a link to your post.) I hope to remember that one – thanks!
It did bring applause from the audience! It’s great isn’t it 🙂 Thanks so much for the link to my blog.
This is so timely for me–just 2 days ago, the pain of the past resurfaced and frankly caught me off guard, because I don’t “live there” anymore. But I went to God with it, and the next morning I felt so cleansed and refreshed–and my NO PARKING (in condemnation) banner and message was birthed. I love His beauty for ashes!! I had heard that quote before, re the Bible that is falling apart–it’s been around a long time. Thanks for telling us about Lindy Chamberlain–I had seen the movie version, and recently heard the update; I can’t even imagine her pain–a terrible loss compounded by accusations. God bless you and your family, Ali–love, sis Caddo
Hi Caddo. I’m so glad our loving God brought you through that ‘side-swipe’ from the enemy and turned the experience into something truly beautiful. God is so good!!! And you are His beloved daughter with a magnificent future!
Ali . ..this is a timely message for me, something really important for me to grasp, in order to move on into all He wants me to. There is more to us than our stories, even though they may need to be told too. There is all that lies beyond them yet. Thank you for sharing Lindy with us . .I didn’t know about all that had happened to her. Now, that is faith. God bless you and yours and what He is doing in your lives today.
I’m so glad Debbie. Yes… May we keep our eyes on Him and what He has for our future rather than dwelling on the past. God bless you as you enrich others’ lives today.
Great post. “What we learn is far more important than what we go through”! What a powerful truth….
Thanks Rolain. May we keep learning, no matter what happens 🙂
I remember this event happening back in the 1980’s and inwardly questioning whether Lindy’s story was true or not. Even in a popular TV show here (‘Seinfeld’) the character ‘Elaine’ mocked Lindy’s story. I had read in the news about Lindy’s recent exoneration. Lindy’s message of ‘letting go’ of resentment and disappointment is relevant every day. Why waste and ruin our days filled with a ‘poor me’ attitude.
Absolutely. If she can move on, so can we. We have the resources in Christ to make every day a new day. Be blessed Joy!
I remember this story (I was a child at the time, and I heard about it, so that speaks to how it spread on the news.) I couldn’t imagine going through what she did. Getting over the pain and letting go of the resentment would be so hard. “What we learn is far more important than what we go through” – that is a wise observation.
I also love this statement: “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn’t.”
Hey Janna – wow, it must’ve been widespread. Absolutely. I really liked that she focused on the wisdom she’d gained rather than letting her story define her in a sense. I agree. Thanks for dropping by – have a great weekend 🙂