Do you remember the dreams you had for your life when you were finishing up high school and about to step foot into adulthood?
Dan Miller had a list of them. He wanted to be a physical education teacher, a pilot, and he dreamed of playing guitar in a band.
But all of that was nearly stolen away from him in the summer of 1955 when his life changed overnight.
After Dan graduated from high school, he had one foot firmly planted in his future. He’d enrolled at Eastern Washington University and had already signed up for flying lessons.
But one day he became ill with what he thought was the flu. It turns out he had become one of the last polio victims in the United States, this just weeks before he was scheduled to receive the newly approved vaccine that would eventually wipe out the disease.
The effects were devastating. Over the next few days, he became increasingly sick until his right arm and legs stopped functioning. He couldn’t turn over or sit up on his own. People had to carry him around, feed him, and dress him. Rehabilitation efforts were only marginally successful, and he struggles to this day with the physical challenges the polio caused.
But as you’ll hear in our broadcast today, Dan was determined to live a fulfilled life with God’s help and to pursue his dreams, no matter what obstacles he faced.
With the encouragement of a school counselor, Dan – who couldn’t even run or jump – earned his college degree and became a supervising educator who taught and oversaw 165 other teachers, helping them design their physical education classes. He also earned his pilot’s license and even learned to play guitar and join a band.
That’s the power of prayer and a willingness to work hard with a positive attitude! I really appreciate Dan’s message for us today: Each of us needs to be a dream maker, not a dream breaker, in someone’s life. We find that idea numerous times in the Bible, like 1 Thessalonians 5:11, which says, “Encourage one another and build one another up” (ESV).
Heartache, pain, suffering, and grief comes to everyone. It’s inevitable. But misery is optional. Joy is a choice. By His grace, hope and faith in God are a choice we can make in tough times.
Dan is semi-retired now, but he was an inspirational speaker for 20 years, travelling across the U.S. and Canada to encourage over 600,000 people through his talks.