Many years ago I almost died.
I had gone on a day trip to a lake outside of Toronto with some friends to swim and hang out. It’s surprising to me when I reflect on the story because the weather was pretty nice, I didn’t go out into the lake too far, and the water wasn’t extremely choppy. Still, after swimming out I somehow took in a nice and unexpected mouthful of water at the wrong time and it started a chain of nasty events.
When I realized I couldn’t stop coughing I turned back to swim to shore, but for some reason my limbs just started feeling drained of all strength. Then came the point when I just had no strength left in me. I was still coughing and could barely catch a breath. Finally I resorted to my Navy SEAL training and decided to sink to the bottom, push back up for a breath of air — aaannd repeat. It was all I had the strength to do.
At this point I knew things were real — I knew things were bad. Against all the prideful fibres in me, I started calling out for my friends. It sounds awful, but sometimes it seems better to die than to admit you’re in need of help and probably not going to make it. So there I was, sinking to the bottom and pushing back up to the top again to scream out the name of my friends. No one was coming.
Perhaps the most memorable part of all of this was when I went down then up a couple more times and knew in my limbs, mind, and soul that I was so empty I couldn’t do it anymore. It was at this moment, and I remember it like yesterday, that I called out to Jesus in my spirit and surrendered it all: “If this is it, take me home. I’m not making it — I’m all yours.” It was at that very moment that a peace like no other rushed over me and consumed the dreadful panic that I had been experiencing throughout the ordeal.
I knew it was my last push off the bottom for my last breath of air, but I accepted that and knew help didn’t hear me and wasn’t coming. I knew that was that, but I also knew so tangibly that Jesus was with me. I took that last breath and was prepared for the outcome — then I felt a hand. I was heard and help came. Even as I write this I can feel the rush of emotions and even giggles of joy as I felt my buddies grab me. I knew it was going to be all right.
I tell this story because I feel like so many of us are drowning in our everyday lives. We are living day in and day out by sinking to the bottom, pushing off, and grabbing our next breath of air at the top before repeating the process. We try swimming back to shore, but it seems we can’t make it. We feel empty, weak, helpless, and drained.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. (Luke 17:33)
I can’t help but see the importance in the timing of my events — it was after I surrendered it all that help came. It was after I accepted that I couldn’t do it myself that someone else came in for me. It was after I let go of my pride and called out for help that I was rescued. It was when I finally entrusted my spirit to Jesus that everything was all right.
I don’t know what lake has you consumed right now, but I do know that Jesus is watching over you. You may sink top to bottom and back many times, but continuously call out His name and surrender to Him. He wants to help and He will help.
It is when we fully surrender that God’s grace draws us close and pulls us to dry land.