As I prepared to return to Australia, I kept expecting that there would be an obstacle in the way that would prevent me from going. I know, I know – “Oh ye of little faith,” right?! I didn’t vocalize my doubt until about a week before I left when still, no obstacle had emerged.
It took a hurricane for me to stop and realize what God was really up to. The doors for me to go kept flying open and not just because of the hurricane!
I got an email less than 24 hours before I was scheduled to fly, stating that my flight was bumped up 12 hours because of Hurricane Florence. I hadn’t packed my bags yet and the next few hours were a haze of emptying out my closet and dresser into my plaid suitcase, while my nieces watched with wide eyes. Suddenly my plans had been rearranged but not in the way that I was expecting. I had been watching the news regarding the hurricane and had even called the airline earlier in the day to make sure things were still on schedule. At the time, they were.
But when that email came, I stared back in amazement.
God had gone ahead of me, knowing that the storm would cause flight cancelations and He paved the way for me to leave early so that I could make it to Australia in time to start orientation and training on schedule!
My 12-hour layover in Houston turned into an 18 hour layover as a result. But that ended up being a bonus because my Aunt Nancy dropped everything to come and pick me up, giving me the chance to spend all of my layover with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins. It was wonderful!
When my Aunt dropped me back off at the airport, I found the Air New Zealand ticket counters empty. ‘That’s odd.’ I thought. I walked over to the screen to see look for the flight status and I got nervous when it said, “Flight canceled.” I got on the phone and talked to an airline agent and was put on hold for two hours until I had my flight completely redirected and rescheduled for 5:30 the next morning and a voucher for a hotel stay and free dinner for that night!
I set my alarm for 3AM and fell into a deep sleep. A little too deep perhaps because wouldn’t you know it?! I didn’t hear my alarm! I woke up 4:13 and leapt out of bed, struggled into clothes and grabbed my suitcases and ran, praying desperately all the way that I would make it to the gate in time. This was my last domestic flight (IAH to LAX) but still, I knew that I needed 60-minutes prior to departure time to get my suitcase checked to my final destination – Brisbane!
It was at 65 minutes before my flight when I was stood at the delta desk and I wouldn’t be exaggerating at all if I said that I had been fast asleep 8 minutes prior to that. A boarding assistant who looked almost as sleepy as me printed my boarding pass and lugged my suitcase onto the conveyer belt and wished me well on my trip.
The security line was nearly empty and I weaved my way up to the officer standing at the security station. He glanced down at my suitcase as I placed it on the conveyer belt and then up at me, “Gretta!” He said, without missing a beat. “It’s been so long. How are you doing?” I stared back. Did he know me? “Great!” I answered feebly, still searching his face to find familiarity. My family and I used to live in Houston, so it was possible he might’ve known us from way back then? But I couldn’t place him. “Is Hurricane Florence affecting you in North Carolina?” He asked as I struggled to take my shoes off and extract my laptop from the case to send through the scanner. “Well, not at the moment” I said, and then I realized how stupid that sounded. Of course it wasn’t affecting me; I was in Houston! I stumbled on in my early morning delirium, “Thankfully, my family won’t experience much more than strong winds and rain.” I said. Just before I walked through the monitor, he threw back his head and laughed and said, “I’m just playing with you. I read your name and address on your baggage tag.” “You got me.” I said with a laugh. His humor was just what I needed to ease the stress of the moment, as I frantically gathered my things and ran to my departure gate. I arrived at the gate at 4:38AM. Just in time for the first boarding call!
Ever since the email that I received about my flight leaving earlier than planned, I’ve been mulling over this misconception that I have carried with me for most of my adult life. I’ve expected obstacles to block me from doing the things that I feel called by God to do! All of a sudden it became clear that so many times in the past, the enemy had rigged me with disbelief to keep me from accomplishing the very things that God was calling me to do!
But as I have begun to recognize these lies, I’ve started to stand in opposition to them. And that’s when I can hear God speaking!
One thing that God spoke to me was, “Gretta, I want you to start expecting Me to do good things for you!”
I never had any trouble believing that God wanted to do good things for other people but I did have a hard time believing that He had good things in store for me too! Until recently…
I began to carry that expectation of good things to come and to my delight, it eased the weight that I had carried on my shoulders for so long. I started to see that expectation being met because I was constantly looking around and thinking, “I wonder what good thing God will do next?”
Returning to Australia wasn’t an easy decision for me. It took from last November until early March to even tell anyone other than my Mom that I felt like God wanted me to come back.
In November, God had spoken directly,
“You’ll be back here in Australia at this time next year.”
And I responded with an adamant, “No, I won’t!” Because that wasn’t my plan. But immediately afterwards, I had a moment of curiosity where I thought, “How would it be to come back?!” All of a sudden it looked less impossible and more appealing that it had previously. I started to pray for peace if that was the right decision.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Australia and I loved my YWAM family. But I knew that coming back would mean giving up my own personal time and space and resources and that looked really hard. I knew that I would need to grow and learn new things and in that moment when I was right in the thick of learning and growing, it looked scary. In retrospect, I think that God spoke to me right then because He knows me well enough to know that I process things slowly.
The peace that I prayed for has been so real to me as I’ve prepared to come back to Australia.
These verses have become especially precious to me,
“Be strong and courageous…The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:7-8
As I write this, I’m jetting over the Pacific ocean, headed to Brisbane Australia. I have no doubt in my mind that it is God who has gone before me. And God was right! I would be back in Australia, “At this time next year!”
On that note, if you haven’t yet claimed your COURAGE T-shirt, you can do so now!
The LOVED T-shirts were such a big hit that the campaign automatically relaunched! So if you haven’t claimed yours yet or if you are needing ideas for Christmas or birthday gifts, go check it out!
A huge thank you to all who have supported and encouraged me to continue to follow God by returning to Australia to do mission work! It means so much to have you along on this journey!