94: Love Lifted Me

94: Love Lifted Me

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

Love Lifted Me

Prayer is the principal means of opening oneself to the power and love of God that is already there, in the depths of reality.

~Bishop James Albert Pike

I grew up in a very small town. If you saw someone sitting on the porch, they didn’t have to know you in order to wave and smile. If a person became ill, it wasn’t uncommon for neighbors to babysit, bring soup, and feed the children. When they mowed their lawn, they would mow yours too. When someone baked cookies, it was often enough for all the neighborhood children who played together daily. It was like one big happy family, a community of caring people.

At a very young age I wanted to dedicate my life to God. But I first needed to know that He was real. So I prayed. I had a talk with the Lord, and I told him that I could listen to everyone else speaking about him, but I knew that I would make a better witness if I knew him for myself. I needed to know that God was real.

That same week I decided to go swimming, thinking nothing else about the conversation I had with God. When I got to the swimming pool, I was very shy. I ran out to the pool and jumped in, hoping that everyone else didn’t notice. I flapped around in the water. I splashed and splashed, pretending to swim. While in the water, I noticed a guy from my class staring at me. He was playful and asked how I was doing. I thought he was handsome and liked his attention.

I got out of the pool for the fifteen-minute break the lifeguards had announced, and sat talking to friends and my next-door neighbor. When it was time to get back into the pool, the guy from class told me that he noticed I was a very good swimmer. He said that he saw me dive off the deep end of the pool.

I explained to him that I could not swim, and that I had never been in the pool’s deep end. He didn’t believe me. I told him I wasn’t teasing and could not swim. He smiled at me as if I was joking, picked me up over his head, and threw me into the deep end of the pool. I saw him turn and look back as he walked away from the pool’s edge.

The water seemed to grab me. It was cool and warm at the same time. The more I reached for something, anything to grab, the more I realized nothing was there to grasp. All of a sudden I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was drowning. I struggled and I fought that water until I was too exhausted to fight any more.

I kept swallowing the chlorinated water. I drank so much water that I could not feel it going down my throat anymore. My body became totally relaxed and I said to myself, “Wow, I could live like this.” Later, having talked to a nurse, I learned that I couldn’t feel the water going down my throat any more because I was almost dead.

All of a sudden, the water became a pool of extremely bright light. The water rumbled and shook. Gazing upward, I saw how beautiful the sky looked. My body was relaxed. A huge hand of light came from underneath the water of light. A voice that sounded like thunder shook the water. As the hand of light rose up out of the water, I too rose with it. I heard the thunderous voice say, “NOT YET!” I rose to the top of the water and my next-door neighbor pulled me out of the pool. An old song by James Rowe called “Love Lifted Me” came to mind, and I think of it every time I tell this story:

Love lifted me

Love lifted me,

When nothing else could help

Love lifted me.

That day God proved to me, without a doubt, that He lives.

~Sheila Ross Felton

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