From the Midas touch to the lowest valleys, after a pact to end his life in a year, Mark found ways to avoid that pact but everything was short lived.
Was there a better way than what culture ascribes?
I'm Mark McKenzie. I'm from Nelson. I was a musician in Christchurch. I also used to be in the army, when I was growing up. I had what I guess you’d call the Midas touch. Everything I did, I did really well. I succeeded at most things that I did when I put my mind to it.
I'd invested in properties in Christchurch and was building a nest egg at the same time. I was enjoying my life. I didn't have any real concept of what God was, other than I knew there was something there. I had, I guess, a new age version of what God was.
I had a long-term relationship that broke up and devastated me. We were together six years; she was my fiancé. And it happened within a few months of the Christchurch earthquakes. So, my whole world just crumbled at that moment. Everything I thought was real in life and important in life as far as I was concerned, was gone.
So when that broke, I decided I was going to live my life exactly how I wanted to. I decided to make a pact with myself that I was going to commit suicide - but I would do it in a year. Life was so bad. I was so broken. All the things I believed in life going up to that moment, that foundation, was gone. So I decided at that moment, I was going to live life for myself now. I'm now the god of me. And I'm not going to tolerate anyone walking over me. I'm going to call things how they are. I'm not going to be nasty, but if I see something I don't agree with, I'm going to say so.
And I quite liked this person I became within this year. I noticed life changed. I noticed girls were really attracted to me. So, a year went by and of course, I didn't want to do anything about that pact. I just decided to carry on living.
I began living a worldly life: All the things that social media says were awesome and that you hear growing up are awesome. Lots of different girls, drinking, drugs. That sort of thing. I'd do those things and then I'd be empty at the end of them. I’d think, “Well maybe I'm just not doing it right. I'm not doing enough of it.”
I continued that process for probably a good four or five years. I met my now wife when I came here to live in Nelson. I was still thinking the same way. But she was born and raised Christian. Christian home. Christian beliefs. But she'd also been shaken with what had happened in her life. So we met at a very similar time. And she introduced me to this idea of God that I hadn't seen before.
She started going to church and would talk about what was going on in church. I was really encouraging, like, “Yeah, that's awesome. You do you. This is really good for you.” In the meantime, I was suffering from depression. I think things had just become too much.
Eventually I was seeking things online. And I came across apologetics. The intelligent part of me always had an issue with Christianity. And so apologetics was, for me, an awesome way of understanding these things were real, and finding really intelligent arguments against issues I had with Christianity.
I also decided I wanted to marry Nikita. She said to me, "What do you think about our pastors coming and just having a little chat about what marriage is?" So they would come and meet with us every Thursday. Then I would hit them with questions, and they would come back with stuff. And I could feel myself really changing.
There was a moment that things changed. I'd still struggled financially because there were still issues with my properties in Christchurch. There were EQC things going on. There were taxes that needed to be paid. It was a financial thing that was really holding me down. And I’d had it to the point where I decided one day to say to God, and this was basically my prayer, "God, if You are real, take this financial burden from me."
The specific financial burden I had was that there was an amount of money I needed to fix one of the houses so that the tenants could carry on. And I didn't have that money. It was a figure of, let's say it was $8,500. And I just didn't have $8,500. So, I prayed that prayer and I didn't think much of it.
A few days went by and I went to open my emails, which was a thing I hated to do because every time there was an email from my property manager. It was usually asking for some money, or there was an issue with a tenant. It was always negative. So, I mustered up the courage to actually open this email and not just stick my head in the sand. It came up and it said the tenants from a previous problem that I'd had, they’d decided to pay their amount in full.
So, the tenants that I’d had years ago had destroyed the house, and were ordered to pay it back. But the difference was, for me, that I knew God was saying, "I hear you, and I see you, and I want you to be okay." For me, that was my first realisation that God was real.
I knew the first thing I wanted to do, after I just sat in shock, was to go upstairs, to my then girlfriend. She was listening to worship music and the song was “Yes and Amen”. I came up and stood there and I said, "You're not gonna believe it. This just happened." And she cried and said, "That's God." And I said, "I know." That was the very first time that I'd ever actually admitted that God was real and that He was working in my life.
God opened my heart with a crack and that's all He needed to slither into my heart. He just did it gently because He knew where I was at. He just came to where I was at and met me where I was at, and has been walking along in that journey ever since.
How I was living before was pretty impressive on the outside. I had everything that people wanted. It looked fantastic, but my heart was really quite broken. I'd lost something, a purity that I used to have when I was young, as time had gone on. Each thing that I was doing, which I now see as sin, was stealing who I used to be. And I’d decided to take my own life, and then live a life from then on where I was the god of me. There was no other God. I was the god.
Going from that moment to the moment where I realised that God heard me, it always gets me. When God heard me and I knew He was real, at that very moment He filled something that I didn't even know I had missing. He filled that because He acknowledged that He did love me and He did see me. Life was never going to be the same.
That hasn’t gone away. It's been two and a half, three years since that moment. Life's gone up and down, things have happened, but that feeling that He knows who I am has never gone. And now it's up to me to build that relationship with Him because He can't wait to hear from me and hang out with me.
When God sees you like that, when the God of the Universe who created you sees you, the recognition of that can't be described. Because nothing else matters at that moment. Everything you've ever done, you just feel like He's so proud of you. He loves you so much He took His time to come and rescue you and tap you on the shoulder, "Hey, I'm here." But when the God of the Universe loves you, what can be better than that?