Unexpected Turns Are Sometimes the Best Route

Don Wickstrum

Entrepreneur, Pastor
Published Dec 21, 2022

When I was a kid, God put a dream in my heart. I was eight years old when I developed a desire to one day conquer the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs. I had seen the harrowing course that has long served as a driver’s proving ground on television, and I was hooked. Mesmerized by the cliffs and turns, I was impressed not only by how dangerous it was but also by how beautiful it was. I wanted to experience its intensity for myself.  

I decided then, “I’m going to do that one day.” Yet, as childhood dreams tend to go, instead, I made the sensible choice to go to college, where I pursued a career in engineering and eventually started what would become one of the largest robotic integrators in the country. I had new dreams like running a business, taking care of my employees, getting married, and having a family. But it was during this season in my life that things took a drastic change.  

Just when things were going well in my life that I received a life-changing cancer diagnosis that forced me to reevaluate my priorities and sell my company. When you’re set with a date your life could expire, you feel as though you’re living on borrowed time. Everything gets a sense of urgency, and yet, so many things don’t seem important anymore. Cancer pushed me into high gear in my faith; I saw everything differently. 

Facing what could be the last year of my life, I wrote a bucket list. Although I didn’t believe competing in the Pikes Peak race was realistic, I wrote it down anyway. As my wife and I prayed about which item from the list we should embark on first, maybe a vacation or other special experience as a family, it became clear to both of us that God was calling us to the Pikes Peak race. The race would be an avenue to share the gospel message of eternal hope with many people. And at this pivotal moment in my life, what could be more important? 

What I thought was just a childhood pipe dream that I had long since set on the shelf was now going to be the vehicle through which God wanted to use me as a Kingdom changer. 

It took me a few years, a few crashes, and overcoming a lot of doubts to reach the finish line, but I did. God has sustained me, filled me with hope, and revealed to me why my eight-year-old self was so enamored with a car race up a mountain. I’m in awe of the hope God has placed in my life and I want nothing more than to tell everyone I meet of his goodness. When I look back, I can’t help but wonder if my journey from a successful entrepreneur to a cancer patient was exactly what needed to happen to get me from point “a” to point “b” and be ready for God to shape my story. 

Sometimes the road of life has a lot of unexpected turns and maybe even some potholes, like my cancer diagnosis, but if you give God the wheel, He’ll make sure you stay on course toward the victorious finish line that He has for you. We, unfortunately, don’t get a preview of what He’s trying to accomplish in us and through us, but our story is in His hands for His glory. 

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/aniszewski

Don Wickstrum is an entrepreneur, pastor, and racer. Known as the “Fastest Pastor.” Wickstrum serves as a leader in ministry, a counselor, mentor, husband, and father. He currently races and shares the Gospel amid his ongoing battle with cancer in hopes of inspiring and ministering to others. To watch “Chasing Hope,” the short documentary style film about Wickstrum’s story visit: https://www.iamsecond.com/film/chasing-hope/.

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