I believe in destiny. I believe every person has a divine purpose and a special reason for walking this earth. I believe that until a person discovers that reason and starts to do it, they will never feel truly fulfilled. I believe this for two reasons. One, because the Bible exhorts us to discover God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for our lives which requires a transformed and renewed mind (Romans 12: 1-2). And two, because I’ve personally experienced it in my own life. This past week I was reminded of one example of this.
Last week I completed and turned in the manuscript of my new book which will be published next spring through Baker Books. For those who know the writing projects I’ve participated in and the written articles and books my name has appeared on, this may not seem like a big deal. But those who know my life story will attest that for me to author anything is a miracle comparable to the parting of the Red Sea.
Most of my life I suffered with a severe case of dyslexia. I was seriously disabled in the area of reading or spelling throughout my school years. My handicap made life extremely difficult and required me to rely on other areas of gifting as I tenaciously struggled from grade level to grade level. With my father’s influence as a PHD in education I was eventually accepted into a four year college in Idaho. I learned to compensate for my disability by using my own developed methods of listening and studying to get by – but nothing came easy. Academic life for me was not only extremely difficult but humiliating, especially during a time when dyslexia wasn’t fully understood.
During those university years I discovered the writing of Louis L’Amour. I was working on my Master’s degree which focused in part on the history of the American West and through my research I came upon my first Louis L’Amour novel. After reading the first chapter I was driven to read more. L’Amour wrote very simply, but was the most amazing storyteller I had ever come across. His writing style fascinated me and his descriptive imagery literally enticed me to read everything he wrote which was a lot. For the first time I was reading, not because I had to – but because of a new found joy. Louis L’Amour saved my life. My reading skills improved over time simply because I was motivated to use them.
In the following years I became a secondary school history teacher with a specialty on the American West. As a teacher I discovered the power of storytelling as being the most effective way to holding my students’ attention and impart the passion I felt for the American frontier. I watched as so many of my students began to share my love for the West. As I encountered students who were suffering with similar reading disabilities I would often slip them a used paperback of one of my favorite Louis L’Amour books. It didn’t work every time, but more times than not they joined in my addiction and slowly started to heal.
In the 1970′s I became known for my expertise on the mountain man era of the west. This led to a project done by my 7th grade class to relocate Jeremiah Johnson’s grave from Southern California to Wyoming. (That’s a story for another time.) I became known as an historian for the western region of the Mojave Desert. Amazingly this led to a personal correspondence relationship with Louis L’Amour as I provided him with folklore research for a book he published in 1974 called theCalifornios. In my office today I have one of the letters he wrote to me. It is framed on my wall as a reminder of the significance he has had on my life.
I believe there are no accidents with God. I think he uses all kinds of people and events both good and bad to direct our lives towards his good, pleasing and perfect will. As for me, God strategically provided this gifted writer who captured my interest and gave me the confidence not only to read, but to become a storyteller myself.