“Do you believe in destiny?” Nicolás Serrano, up to his elbows in apple mash, asks halfway through my first book Destiny at Dolphin Bay. His friend Melissa has questioned his self-identification as a Chiloé islander, knowing he grew up a city boy. As she watches him make cider in an antique press, she sees him as more of a cultural mosaic.
“You mean, like fate or karma?” Melissa responds.
Not at all. Nicolás views his life as more of unique combination of circumstances and details that only a wise and sovereign God could arrange. Like a Rubik’s cube master, on a scale infinitely beyond the 43 quintillion Rubik’s possibilities, our Father slides the pieces of the past, present, and future of the planet into His grand design.
“God is in the business of strategically positioning us into the right place at the right time…He is always using past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities.” –Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
In spite of a background of turmoil and pain, Nicolás has concluded that he is who he is, where and when, because that’s how God has planned his life story. Up to this point in their 15-year-old lives, he and Melissa have both tended to look ahead to the future from their moment in time.
But sometimes, all of us need to look back and trace what has brought us to this here-and-now.
I conceived Destiny at Dolphin Bay in the (Chilean) summer of 1987, nurtured it through ministry turbulence and a family addition, and finally delivered a finished first draft in October 1991. I’ve been raising that baby ever since. Nearly 30 years of developing its character and refining its theme. Hopefully, it’s matured, but in essence it’s still the original story.
It’s about time it packed up and left home. Off to see the world…
Since contracting with a small independent publisher a few weeks ago, I’ve worked my way through Destiny at Dolphin Bay once again. Is it the 10th revision…the 20th? The process isn’t over yet, but at least it’s underway. Publication of my first book is moving forward.
And since I believe in destiny, not chance or coincidence—certainly not blind fate—I’ve taken this step of faith, trusting in God’s divine orchestration of all the events of my life. Whether they seem good, bad, or somewhere in between.
Two years ago, when I decided to take an online course on websites for authors and then launched Seaglass Sagas, little did I imagine that my instructor would end up my web host.
Then a couple of months ago, I made a mistake in scheduling my weekly post (anybody notice that little glitch?) and had to get together with my host to straighten it out. She fixed it in no time (of course!), so then we talked about blogging…and writing…and publishing.
“Send me your manuscript,” she said. After I got up from the floor, I did. Long story abridged.
“Everything’s a story—you are a story—I am a story.” –Frances Hodgson Burnett
Plenty of reasons clamor to deny destiny. I’m pretty sure the odds aren’t in my favor.
You’ve all experienced the worldwide pandemic to some extent during 2020. Many of you have heard of the social/political crisis affecting Chile over the past year. NOTHING’s easy. The lines, the shortages, the violence… Add to that, sixty-something health issues, a major construction project, and an impending move to the Internet barrens. Never mind the everyday tasks.
It’s so tempting to delay again. Except that God’s destiny has aligned, not the planets, but the plot points of my life right now. Obstacles will surely pop up, opposition may rear, last-chapter twists may surprise me. In fact, total failure lurks and casts its shadow in the background.
But I believe in destiny…which is God’s strategic opportunities seized and used. “If I perish, I perish,” as Queen Esther said, but never let it be said I would not risk anything to bring Him glory. Any success, outside of faithful obedience, is at best irrelevant.
“Live your life in a way that is worth telling stories about.” –Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
So what’s the book about, you ask? I’ve labeled it International (set in Chile) Inspirational (Christian) YA (teen/young adult) Adventure. That sounds like a mouthful, but the story’s fairly simple. There’s the troubled teen who collides with the strange culture, the earthquake and the homeless children, the bogeyman and the ghost ship. The romance, the dolphin motif, the elements of myth and mystery and music.
After 30 years, though, every time I return to Dolphin Bay, I feel a sense of coming back to my birthplace. This is where it all began for me, as a writer, where I turned the story of my own life into anybody’s story, told from another angle. It’s the family I had—and didn’t have. It’s my teenage spiritual odyssey, it’s the depths of despair during my first term as a missionary, it’s the Christmas dolphins of 1986 (that’s a tale for the holiday season—stay tuned). Oh, and it’s the three months of nonstop rain with a newborn.
My story of Destiny springs from never getting enough of the ocean. It’s plumbed from those initial learning experiences, from neighbors and strangers, delight and hardship. It rises from the ashes of devastating confrontation with the religion of community rather than Christ. The story comes from the dozens of camps where we touched lives in ways we know—and ways we may never know this side of heaven—in hope, in disappointment. From boat trips and storms, medical posts and schools, wakes and funerals. Fishing, farming, and yoco. (Ask me!)
“Story telling is sharing happiness.” –Self Narrate
And even more, at Dolphin Bay I find myself again. I relive Nicolás’s joy and amazement in encountering a Jesus who is personal and real. I rediscover Melissa’s freedom to stop chasing the wind, settle into my true identity in Jesus, and join the bigger story.
Here I rewind, reenact, and refit the pieces of my life together into His glorious destiny. Because the God of limitless dimensions cares for 7.8 billion and yet sees each individual…even me.
Melissa’s Desert Island Diary is only Act I. Of course, all the characters have a past. Then there’s the sequels… If you believe in destiny, the destiny that all believers share, then you know it’s also a story that never really ends.
I’d better get back to editing. And speaking of apple cider…