I had never lived more than 15 kilometres from my birthplace in Melbourne. With most family and friends living close by, and a job that gave me a great sense of purpose in life, the thought of selling our house and moving interstate was not one I had ever considered sane.
However, presented before me was a job opportunity that seemed to be God calling us to Sydney. There were several smaller hints that this opportunity was a prompting from God but one big nudge was the sign hanging on the house we had bought three-and-a-half years earlier. Our house name was the same as the suburb we were being called to--900 kilometres away. It was a "sign" sign!
As it became clear this was "meant to be," I didn't want to push my luck by staying safe and doing nothing. I know of one instance someone did that and they ended up somewhere dark and fishy for a few days.
But after delivering the rehearsed lines about us moving to Sydney to her boss, Rachel was surprised to hear, "You can work in our smaller Sydney office." This seemed to slot into the puzzle of the big picture God had for our move, even though the job was less interesting, paid less and involved more than one-and-a-half hours of travel twice a day.
The move went well, apart from our dog barking at all the cows in the paddocks on the drive up.
Rachel started her new job and, a week into it, started to understandably loathe the long commutes. The second week, however, her job brought an even bigger challenge--redundancy.
At first glance this was the first piece that didn't fit in our picture of God's blessings. Perhaps we had received all our allocation of blessings and were now on our own. However, I smelled a blessing in disguise and Romans 8:28 came to mind. We believed we had been called for His purpose, so would something good come out of this?
Rachel hit the internet to hunt for jobs in the following weeks. She had received a month's payout, so the challenge was set: find a job that would start inside the month.
Only a few jobs sounded appealing and of the few applied for, only one offered an interview. Again, this had elements of drama as three weeks passed and Rachel still had only one interview lined up. If it didn't come off, we were in trouble.
We praised God when Rachel did get that job, which was to start three days before her redundancy payout ran out. The blessing was threefold: this job was closer to home, better paid and much more enjoyable. Rachel worked there for a couple of years until she left on maternity leave.
Nearly three years since the move, now with a daughter, Ally, we were starting to feel the pull of family back to Melbourne. I visited Florida for a couple of weeks for work and theme parks. When I got home, Ally had changed so much I felt I had to get to know her again. I couldn't imagine what it was like for her grandparents and great-grandparents who could only see her months apart on flying visits.
A job opportunity arose to head back south, this time with Rachel going back to work and myself swapping to be a stay-at-home daddy. The job we had been called to had evolved into an administration role that stifled my talents and appeared to fade my purpose for being there.
As we looked for rentals with a pet dog in an area next to the Black Saturday bushfire zone at a time many additional people were renting while they rebuilt, it wasn't easy to find a suitable place.
We decided on a rental that was rather expensive and would not accept our dog. It was ready when we needed it so we called a friend we knew in the area to dogsit for a few months until we found something better. Another friend who was at that friend's house at the time had just bought a house and needed to find a tenant. They were praying to find someone; while we were praying to find somewhere--God could answer two prayers at once by connecting us. The place was cheaper and our dog could stay, but it was only for six months, a lot older and only small.
Uncertain which place it was wisest to move into, I decided I would do a "Bible flick" to a "random" verse to see which house we should choose. But before I'd got the chance to do this, a friend texted us a goodbye message that contained a short Bible chapter as encouragement. That gave us our answer: Psalms 121.
I'm convinced God gave us a package deal in calling us to a three-year stint in Sydney. Not knowing how it would all turn out beforehand did take faith but I don't have the space here to describe the many blessings.