I sat in my cushioned chair upright, hands folded but fidgeting as I watched the other passengers find their seats. A nervous tension had overwhelmed me knowing I would be confined to this tiny plot of real estate for the next eight hours before I made my first stop on the way to the Central African Republic. Phil, my flying partner and church mate, leaned across the aisle and asked how I was doing. I just nodded. My mind was in a different place. In an attempt to preoccupy myself I grabbed my camera out of my bag looking at the settings and the images from the morning. I didn’t see anything special. Just our moments traveling through the Washington-Dulles airport.
It had been a busy 2-weeks until that point. I thought about how just a week prior I finished packing up my house in Melbourne Australia leaving all my friends and a life I had built with my family. I didn’t want to leave, but if I was going to keep my family together I knew the only way I could was to jump on that plane back to Florida and try and support my wife as best I could. Maggie had left Australia 6-months ago leaving our daughter Paige and me behind. Our relationship wasn’t doing well for a while. Maggie used her father’s ill health as a way to leave. And after 4-months she convinced me to send Paige back to the United States feeling it would be the last time she might ever see her grandfather.
The flight attendant came over the loudspeaker asking all passengers to turn off their electronic equipment. I used that moment to put my camera back into my carry-on bag. As I was about to zip it shut I noticed my new Bible all my Australia friends had gotten me. I grabbed it and returned to my seat. I opened up the front cover reading all the personalized words of encouragement and thought about the farewell given to me the night before I left. I just wanted to cry. And then I read what my good friend Mick had written to me. “To Mark.. What a blessing you have been in so many lives. You’re a great friend. You’re an honest friend. You’re a loyal friend. Appreciate you greatly. Jeremiah 29:11-12 is for you. Will be praying and believing for prosperity in every aspect of your life. God Bless! Your friend Mick.”
I immediately turned to Jeremiah 29. “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Those words put me in such a state of confusion. For a whole month I wrestled with God about returning to the United States. I didn’t want to as I had grown so fond of Australia. But it was very clear week in and week out. Not only did the Holy Spirit desire me back in the United States, I was to do it with boldness. Nothing made sense! I had no work there, I had grown to despise Florida over the years of living there… The only thing I could see on the horizon was trying to put back together a family that had endured incredible financial woes. But to know me is to know my family means everything. But the Holy Spirit asking me to was enough. So having read this passage… questioning God’s desire for me to return to the USA and submitting to it…. Nothing made sense. I asked God right then, “If you are all knowing… if you have plans to prosper me and not to harm me… then why would you send me here knowing 24 hours before I got on this plane my wife would have me served for divorce!”