Danger! Danger! Okay, Wait a Minute . . .

18 02 2018

Years ago, my Lady and I make trip to Southern Florida to check out a school I was givingRock _n thought to attending. Hollywood is a nice little community on the Atlantic Coast between Fort Lauderdale and Miami; today I hear it’s quite the tourist stop with it’s hotels and casinos.  The school had bought the Hollywood Beach Hotel right on the ocean and we were there for a week seminar. Everyday there was time between sessions to go out on the beach and enjoy the surf and sun. There were certain activities you could sign up for, so I spent one day in a group learning how to body surf and had a blast. We’d swim out to a certain point, wait for the instructor’s signal to start our swim, catch a wave and ride it back to the shore. It was so much fun I was disappointed when we were called in for the day.

A couple days into our stay I noticed an oil leak on the old 63 Chevy Pickup we had taken from Ohio to make the journey. Finding a garage who would work on it, I took off into the town and waited until it was fixed. Returning to campus, everyone was at dinner and since I ate while in town; I went out to the ocean and had the whole beach area of the school to myself. Seeing it as a great opportunity to get in some time on my new hobby, I stripped down to my cutoffs and headed into the water. The waves were higher that day and it took more effort to swim out. Without the instructor I wasn’t sure how far to go so I did a mental estimation where to swim to. That seemed wrong for when I turned back facing shore all I could see was water due to distance and the height of the waves. This strange and cold feeling came over me not being able to see shore, people or buildings. To make matters worse, a couple of large waves crashed pushing me deep into the water. Surfacing and gasping for air I panicked and tried to surf into shore, but my mind was going in every direction and I just couldn’t remember the fundamentals of what I had learned and got nowhere. Still not able to see shore, I started to wonder if I was being pushed father out to sea. Finally grabbing hold of my senses, I forced myself to relax. Okay, I know which way I have go and I am a strong swimmer so I’m going to beat the water until I reach land, or I can’t swim anymore. So, I began counting my strokes as I bounced up and down through the waves but refused to stop swimming; when I counted 100 strokes I would stop and take a look around. But when I reached that point my brain shouted, “No, don’t stop, do another 100!” Onward I swam, shoulder muscles burning but too afraid to quit. When I reached the 2nd hundred stokes I thought, “I’ll stop, look to see what is visible and see if my feet can finally touch the bottom.” I didn’t get the chance to put my feet down, at least not a first. When I stopped swimming, my knees hit the bottom; I couldn’t have been in much more that 18” of water and I could see all the buildings up and down the coastline. Exiting the water, I nearly cried as I thanked God for saving my life and made a vow I’d never go back into the ocean!

The next day the water was completely still, and I watched from the shore as others from the school played and splashed in the water. The gentleman who instructed our bodysurfing class asked why I wasn’t going in so I fessed up to what I had done. A small smile came to his face as he said, “Yeah, I know.” Then it was, “Come with me,” and he headed out into the water. Wasn’t exactly the plan I had, but okay. We walked, and we walked, and then we walked some more until the water was almost chest high. He then turned around and said, “Do you think this is how far out you were?” “Oh yes, easily, but I must have been over farther because the water was a lot deeper!” Staring at me with that same little smile he then started walking back in. When we were 2/3 of the way back where the water was waist high he stopped again and said, “This is about where you were.” “No Way! The water was deep, and I couldn’t see anything and besides how would you know?!!” “Because along with two others I was only 10 feet from you; you couldn’t see us from the waves being so high. That’s why you thought you were in bottomless water. The waves made it feel deeper than it is here; had you put your feet straight down after swell passed you would have been able to touch, which also is why it made the swim so hard. We saw you were having trouble but were close enough if you needed help. When you went into your Johnny Weissmuller all out swim (That’s one of the original Tarzans for the young people who wouldn’t know), we knew you were going to be okay. But use your head from now on, don’t ever go out in the ocean alone again.”

Charles Spurgeon said “The worst evils of life are those which do not exist except in our imagination.”  In my panic I believed my situation was almost beyond hope and if I survived it would only be a miracle of God. Only to find out my peril wasn’t as dramatic as I made it and God already had my back.

How often have we found ourselves believing a situation is hopeless and realize later the worst part was all the energy we spent worrying and fretting over something that came close to fruition. Corrie Ten Boom goes as far to say, “Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.” Had I not let my fears overwhelm me that day, I might not have seen my situation as almost hopeless. I can look back on other situations where anxiety ruled over me and made matters seem worse than they were, only to discover everything was going to be okay. As a Believer in Christ, I’ve had to realize that no matter what comes, God is still there for me as a help. No matter what the situation is, He won’t leave me. Just like my instructor that day; had I not been so caught up in fear I might had seen he was close the entire time.

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

That’s not to say you can’t ever be afraid; it happens to all of us, but you don’t want it to rule your life.

Max Lucado says, “The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith. Fear visits everyone. But make your fear a visitor and not a resident.”

I’m sure my instructor, another “Traveler of the Rock Road.” Told the story of meltdown to many he taught after me with that same little smile on his face. But not to ridicule me, but to teach others to be clear minded and not to let their fears make mountains out of molehills. That’s one example I’m glad I can be a part of.

See ya next time.


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One response

19 02 2018
Beverly Crane

I think God had bigger plans for you and writing The Rock Road was one of those plans. Always a lesson to be learned.

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