I can recall the incident so keenly, it could have happened last week. I was standing at the desk of the personnel officer for the Flathead National Forest. My Dad was with me and introduced me to a man named Carter Helseth. My Dad knew the personnel officer because he had worked for the Forest Service in past years. My Dad asked, “do you have a job for my son for the summer”. He leaned back in his chair and looked me over. I was only 15. I was a sophomore at Flathead High. I was big for my age as I had received most of my growth during the years of adolescence. After looking me over, he asked, “young man how would you like to spend the summer up in the wilderness”? I knew little of what is called “The Bob” even though I had been born and raised here. I know it just sounded a very interesting way to spend the summer so I said “sure”. I would be a part of trail maintenance, maintaining and clearing trails for the west half of the wilderness. I filled out an application form and was told to appear at the city airstrip on a certain day as there was a plane going into Big Prairie with supplies. We did not own a suitcase, so my summer clothes were put in a box and my Dad took me to the city airport on the appointed day. The pilot was waiting for me and stowed my gear in the plane and helped me get in and buckled up. It was exciting! We headed down over Swan Lake to Holland Lake. The pilot then followed Holland Creek up over Gordon pass and down the valley, and we landed on the grass airstrip at the ranger station. The Ranger, Glenn Marriott, and the dispatcher were there to meet us. The Ranger took me to the dorm where I settled in or the summer.

I fell in love with the job. I was assigned a horse for the summer and over the first part of the summer we traveled from Salmon Forks in the north, to the Danaher in the south and all points in between. One weekend when we were at the ranger station, the Ranger asked if he could talk to me. I was a bit fearful because earlier he had some very disciplinary words for me regarding something that I had done wrong.

But, he took me aside and asked me if I would be willing to spend the rest of the summer on Jumbo Mountain. Jumbo was one of the prize lookouts in the forest, sitting over 8,000 in elevation. From Jumbo, you could look down on the entire world.

Of course I said “yes”. I was given some instructions on how to use the Osborn fire finder, the weather station, the windmeter and a few other essentials. So it was that on Monday, I found myself following a string of mules and packer, who was going to the Danaher to resupply a crew. We stopped at the Trail Head leading up to Jumbo, said our farewells and I started the 7 mile trek up the mountain with my supplies on my back.

It was a thrilling sight to get above the timber line and there it sat, a small 12×12 cabin, perched on a rocky point, anchored by guy wires to keep it from being blown away. I unlocked the door and surveyed what would be my home for the rest of the summer.

I had found my future. I fell in love with the thought of spending my future in the outdoors, enjoying God’s creation. I spent the next 6 years working for the Forest Service and looked forward to a lifetime of a job I loved. However, life changes. I was at the alter of my church on a regular Sunday night. I had graduated from high school and coming up on my 19th birthday. I cannot explain what happened that Sunday night, but everything changed. I spoke no word to God. I was alone. However something was happening inside of me that was in exact conflict with what I had chosen. The best way I can explain it is that hot lead was dropped into my heart and solidified. In that brief time I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that my life would change, but I could not accept it. I struggled with God for the next two months. God followed me like a hound on a lion, telling me that He wanted me, all of me, to work in His harvest field. Little did I know that the decision I finally made with God, would lead to 45 years of standing behind a pulpit and teaching His Word. What a change in plans!

Why do I share this? Because I am not the only one who struggles with destiny. God intersects our lives in various ways, and decisions must be made. Whose ways will I follow.

Joseph is an example. Little did Joseph know how his life would change as he went to take supplies to his brothers. Little did he know that rather than going back home to his father, that he would be sold to Midianite caravan and taken to Egypt, put on the auction block to be sold like any common slave. Little did he know that he would end up in an Egyptian prison. It was a far cry from what he expected. It certainly was not his choice, but was God’s choice. It is very difficult to turn the reins of my life over to God and trust His with my future.

Last year I spent much of the year studying the life of the Apostle Paul. As Paul headed for Damascus with authority to imprison and condemn people who were followers of “the way”, he was fully in charge of his own life. As he now sits in a strangers house, in Damascus, blind and confused over what had happened, he hears God, just as I heard God, telling him that his life’s agenda was being changed. That confrontation with God lead to a total rearranging of his life. It took him three years in Arabia to sort it all out and to respond to God’s plan, rather than his own.

Why did I write this in this first issue of “perspectives”? Before us is a new year. We may be surprised at some of the things that appear on our agenda, things that God puts on my agenda without consulting me. ]think of Job] How I respond will determine where I end up in life. Looking back on my life, I am not angry at Gods intervention. He has used my life in a much better way that I would have by following my own plans. I leave you with two questions to ponder;

>Where have I come from

> Where am I headed

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