45: An Underwater Revelation

45: An Underwater Revelation

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

An Underwater Revelation

I believe in prayer. It’s the best way we have to draw strength from heaven.

~Josephine Baker

One of our favorite summer getaways was the lake an hour away from our home. Though my dad had to work and only came on the weekends, the rest of us made the most of our time. Our rented cabin wasn’t luxurious, but for kids it had the best amenity of all—a short walk to the lake. Several times a day we would head out for a swim. If Mom wasn’t with us, my oldest brother was in charge.

“Come on, all the other kids are already there!” my brother, Bob, shouted as he paced the cabin’s front porch waiting for me.

“You mean Susie is there already. She’s the only one you notice,” I said as I skipped out the front door. My other brother, Gary, was already sitting on the front steps. He covered his mouth to hide his giggles over my teasing our big brother.

Bob’s cheeks flushed a slight red. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you have your towels and suntan lotion so we don’t have to come back?”

Gary and I lifted up our stuff to show we were ready to go. Once we arrived at the lake, we dropped our towels and other possessions on the ground. Dutifully, we put on the suntan lotion though it was hit or miss. Before we split up, Bob sternly stood over us and said, “You kids stay out of trouble. Stick around where I can see you.”

I was six years old and the youngest in my family. I loved swimming whether here at the lake or our wading pool at home. Only I didn’t really swim. My idea of swimming was more of splashing about in the water at waist level with other kids my age. We would bob up and down in the water, throwing our arms about in a pseudo-style of swim strokes. I thought that was all I needed to know about swimming. It looked like what the big kids were doing.

That particular summer day, I watched my older brother inflate his brand new rubber raft. It was as tall as he was and its sparkly blue color glistened in the sun. It looked like so much fun as he paddled out to the deeper water with the others who had similar rafts. Right then and there I decided to follow him, so I could get on the raft as well.

Gleefully, I ran out in the water after him, not really paying attention as the water around me got deeper and deeper. I just kept bobbing up and down bouncing off the lake’s floor. All of a sudden the lake bottom dropped from under me. I sank about ten feet, though to me it seemed like the deepest abyss.

In a panic, I began to flail about. But that didn’t bring me to the water’s surface; instead it kept me under. In despair I saw others swimming above me, but I couldn’t reach them. The worst part was seeing my brother’s raft float past me overhead like it was taunting me. I thought without a doubt, I would drown. Closing my eyes and feeling a dire sense of helplessness, I prayed, “God, please help me!”

Almost immediately I heard a calming voice in my head. I remembered our pastor telling us at church, “God can talk to each of us individually, just like in the Old Testament. We only need to listen. This relationship isn’t just for super-holy people, but for anyone who is willing to put their trust in Him.” This wonderful voice had to be God because there was an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness in it. With my eyes closed, I let that tranquility fill me. If I died now, I thought, I’d be forever wrapped in his love.

Yet God had other plans for me. My life wasn’t going to come to an end in this lake. This amazingly serene voice told me to let myself sink down to the bottom. It made no sense to me, but I took a chance and trusted God’s lead. Soon my feet hit bottom. From there I was gently instructed to softly tiptoe forward and everything would be okay. Without hesitation, I followed these directions with the water slowly getting shallower and shallower, until at last, my head was out of the water.

Gasping for air, I began sputtering and crying. Soon my big brother was next to me and scooping me out of the water. Hurriedly he brought me to the dry land and wrapped me in a towel. I felt safe and secure as he held me, but it was nothing like the comfort I knew from the voice in the water.

Gary ran back to the cabin to get our mom. Rushing over, she knelt down beside me and asked, “Are you okay, honey? I know you’ve had a big scare. Your brother should have been watching you.”

Seeing how upset she was, I wanted to make her feel better. After a short cough, I said, “Don’t be mad at him. It was my fault. I didn’t stay by the water’s edge like you’ve always told me to do.”

“But honey, it was his job to keep an eye on you.”

“It was okay; someone else helped me.”

Scanning the faces of the other people in the beach area she asked, “Who was it? I’d like to thank him.”

I smiled. “It was God. He was there to help me. God told me what to do.”

Mom looked at me skeptically at first, but then smiled. “I do ask him to watch over each one of you daily, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me when he does.”

With one arm wrapped around me and the other one held up in the air she said, “Thank you, Lord, for watching over this dear little child of mine.”

The scare stopped me from going back in the lake that afternoon, but I did return to the water a couple of days later. Only now, it was at our community pool where I was enrolled in swimming lessons. Mom wanted to make sure there wasn’t another opportunity to put God to the test. However, she still kept praying for his protection against any other mishaps we might find ourselves in.

Before that event I had always said my prayers before I went to sleep at night. Now they took on an even greater meaning and reality. When I ended with “Thanks, God, for watching over me,” I knew he really did!

~Christine Henderson

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