God Works in Mysterious Ways
Anyone who has been a Christian for more than a day recognizes that God works in mysterious and unpredictable ways. Sometimes, however, the full extent of just how mysterious and how unpredictable God intervenes in our lives is not fully apparent until later - sometimes years later. As one who has passed his 70th birthday, I am only now able to fully recognize how the trajectory of my life was altered by certain key events. I am convinced that they were orchestrated by God to bring me to where he wanted me to be and married to the wife he had for me.
For the past 44 years I have been a practicing attorney in Orlando, Florida, married to Mary, for nearly 50 years. I have thoroughly enjoyed practicing law, and Mary has been the love of my life, but this is not at all the life I imagined for myself growing up. In high school I became interested in the Air Force Academy and looked forward to having a career as an Air Force pilot.
I did receive an appointment to the Academy, and did well enough to have my choice of assignment to any of the eight pilot training bases following graduation from the Academy. Long before I had to officially tell them my choice, I had made up my mind to choose Williams Air Force Base just outside Phoenix, Arizona. At least that was the plan until the night before we were to choose our pilot training base. That night our squadron received a letter from a former cadet saying how much he was enjoying pilot training at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia. One of the things he enjoyed most was going to Tallahassee on weekends and dating girls at Florida State University. Having grown up in Apalachicola, Florida, I was quite familiar with Tallahassee; I even had relatives there. The letter changed my mind: the next day I chose Moody AFB. Looking back on it now, I realize I would not be in Orlando today nor married to Mary had I chosen Williams AFB.
The next key event that changed my life (although I did not realize it at the time) came early in pilot training. The aircraft in which we initially trained was the Cessna T-37, a small twin engine aircraft that had side-by-side seating. The first check ride that we took required us to make simulated single-engine landings with a full fuel load. I totally blew that portion of the check ride. However, after attempting the simulated single engine landings, as we were climbing to a higher altitude for the other portions of the check ride, an engine fire warning light came on. Both the check pilot and I were pretty sure there was no fire, but we had to abort the flight and return to base. Because we did not complete the check ride, it did not count. After a few practice flights with emphasis on single-engine landings, I retook the check ride, and had the highest score in our class. I went on to have the top flying scores in our class and got a highly sought assignment as an instructor pilot in the T-38, the Air Force's advanced trainer, at Moody AFB. Had my original check ride not been interrupted by the fire warning light, however, I would have had a failing score which would have ruined my chances of becoming a T-38 instructor pilot. That fire warning light was the only one I ever experienced during my five years as a pilot.
Following additional instructor pilot training in Texas, I returned to Moody AFB and Valdosta. Soon thereafter, I began dating Mary who was in her last semester at FSU, and we married shortly after she graduated. Three years and two children later, and after much prayer, we decided I would resign from the Air Force and attend law school. Following law school we moved to Orlando. Looking back on it now, however, I realize that but for a letter the night before I made my pilot training choice, and but for a false fire warning light, I would not be here, and would not be married to Mary. Some might say that those events were just serendipitous, but I do not believe it. God does have a plan for each of us, and will intervene to bring his plans to fruition. I am deeply grateful that God intervened in my life. His plans for me have far exceeded anything I had imagined for myself.