Christmas was approaching fast and both Helen and I were feeling restless. Helen, my wife, had been having a recurring dream in which she saw herself driving on an eight-lane freeway. I knew it couldn't be our little town in northern Queensland. We didn't even have traffic lights. Apparently, someone had once voted for them but that would have forever changed our little town, so the traditionalists won and progress was placed on the backburner.
Prior to this, we had both been feeling a sense that our time had run out in Innisfail. I had been reading the story of Elijah, and how he was fed by ravens at the brook Cherith. When the brook dried up, he had to move on. Our training contracts were drying up and, like Elijah, God was calling us from the brook to the city.
We applied for jobs from Townsville to Tasmania. We cast our fleece far and wide, and waited for a door to open. A pastor friend was planting a church in Melbourne, my home town. He wanted us to come down and give him a hand. We were willing to volunteer, even if it cost us to get there. We figured that God would provide and reward us if we went into that ministry. This certainly fitted with my wife's dream, but we still had to wait to see what doors God would open. Within weeks, I had a contract waiting for me in Melbourne!
We made all the arrangements by the end of February, and as we sat in our empty lounge room surrounded by boxes piled high, I received a phone call: "Mario, I'm so sorry." What followed was predictable after such an introduction--the training contract had fallen through, and now we sat waiting for the removalist to come, but with no job to go to.
I said to Helen, "Darling, we talk about faith, I preach faith, now it's time to live it! We are going anyway!"
We arrived in Melbourne. A week later, we were still living out of the back of our car, staying in a caravan park while we found a house to rent. After another week, we had rented a house, enrolled the children at the local school but still with no job and--after all the expenses--with no money.
I hadn't traded in my business for more than two months, so we were scraping the bottom of the barrel. Did we make the wrong decision? Was it really God calling us to Melbourne? Was it all just wishful thinking?
"We can always go back," I said to Helen. "I will restart the business and trade ourselves out of all the moving and rental expenses we have incurred."
Just then, we were walking past a fruit shop and Helen asked what the red fruit was. I told her they were pomegranates and I picked up a couple. I also bought her some fresh figs, which she had never tasted, and we also got some grapes.
We arrived home despondent and a little disappointed. But I randomly opened my Bible to Numbers 13:23. I read: "When they came to what is now known as the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also took samples of the pomegranates and figs."
I called out to Helen, asking her, "Did we buy anything else apart from the three fruits?"
I heard her rummaging through the bag. "No," she said, "just those things. Why do you ask?"
"Come over here. Check this out!" I gestured for her to hurry. Was it God telling us this was our promised land, at least for the moment? The next day, God confirmed it as I found a job.
Our move hasn't been easy, but God's priority isn't comfort, it's growth. We have certainly done a lot of that. He has stretched us emotionally, financially and spiritually.
I don't know how long we will stay in Melbourne, but one thing is for sure: whatever He has in mind will be an exciting adventure. We came here to help out with the music at Northpoint church, a wonderful, loving church plant with a big vision for growth.
As we sow seed to grow His kingdom, God will always bring us experiences that mould us and take us to the next level. All we have to do is say, "God, here I am, use me!" And I said, "Lord, I'll go! Send me." Isaiah 6:8. Mario Cortes lives in Essendon, Victoria, and volunteers with the Northpoint church in Melbourne's western suburbs.