Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. ~ Proverbs 19:21, ESV

It is evident that God completely changes your life when you give it to Him. Often the change happens over time, as we allow the presence of God’s love and wisdom to shape our willful flesh. Sometimes it happens because of a storm.

After high school graduation, I worked in my parent’s restaurant for money, hung out and partied with my friends, and aspired to be a professional athlete. Contradictory to such a lifestyle, I often felt a desire to know more about God. I tried studying the Bible on my own but understood little of it. Thankfully, God knew my desire and provided the understanding through a willing servant.

One day while my brothers and I were helping our father load our moving truck, we noticed that our neighbor, George Detloff, was also moving. We did not know him very well but were curious enough to inquire of his plans. Amazingly, we learned we were moving to the same neighborhood, two houses down from each other.

Not long after our move, my mother was having a conversation with George and shared with him that I had been trying to study the Bible. George, a Seventh-day Adventist, took this opportunity to invite me to a Bible study at his home. After studying with George for four months, I wanted to be baptized; with that decision, the change began.

Shortly after giving my life to God, I felt convicted that I was supposed to attend college and become a doctor. Prior to this, I had no plans or desire to even attend college, but I proceeded to work hard in my classes, and God blessed.

I took the MCAT a year late and thinking I would have a free year, I took a temp job working in a machine shop. I applied to only one medical school that year for early admission–not expecting to get in.

On July 18, 1997, I was working in the machine shop and was planning to go for a mountain bike ride after work. Around 3 p.m. that afternoon, the storm made its presence. Its mighty wind and rain bellowed an assertive “no” to my plans for a mountain bike ride. Disappointed, I went directly home.

Upon my arrival home to what had suddenly become a clear afternoon, my father greeted me with a knowing smile and said, “Do you think God loves you?” I gave a questioning look in response and replied, “Yes.” Dad just continued to give me that same knowing smile and instructed me to go talk to my mother.

Through her happy tears all I was able to understand was to quickly call Dr. John Thorn, LLUSM associate dean for admissions. I called him and he explained to me that he had been trying to reach me since early afternoon. His call was urgent and his question, which had to be answered by 5 p.m., was “Would you like to be a member of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine class of 2001?”

I became part of the Loma Linda graduating class of 2001, and completed a surgical residency in 2006. God has blessed me in my journey. He has opened doors for ministry through Bible studies in my office and has given me a successful practice. I have learned, from that summer day in July 1997, that God can change the direction of your life in an instant. If not for that storm, I would have gone mountain biking rather than to medical school.

Douglas W. Cook, LLUSM class of 2001, is an adjunct assistant professor in LLUSM department of surgery. He practices general surgery in Hanford, California.