July 30, 2009
A 'RealLife' Story
My family spent one summer vacation enjoying the beaches of beautiful Gulfshores, Alabama. My oldest daughter was about 6 years old and the youngest was 3. We bought a two-man inflatable boat thinking this would make for a really fun day at the beach for the two girls. And so it did, they played all day the two of them in that boat. But the little one got tired and was beginning to look pretty pink with too much sun. So, I took her to our spot on the sand and placed an umbrella over her as my older girl continued to play in the boat.
I probably became a little too involved with my younger daughter and spent a little too much time not noticing what was going on the small distance to the water. But as I looked I became concerned as I saw the little boat with my oldest daughter in it had moved far out from the shore and was moving even further.I called to her to come in closer to shore and she seemed to be frightened and doing all she could to accomplish just that. But the thing we hadn't thought to buy for the boat were any oars. Her little arms were too short to reach across the boat and into the water. All she could do was paddle hard to one side and was just making small circles.
About this time, others on the beach are noticing this little girl so far out but no one seems to be doing anything but watching. I'm standing as far out in the water as I can - shouting instructions to her with no success. There's a sailboat of teenagers not far from her, who start her way and then flip their boat.
I stood watching her go farther out - then looked to Heaven and confessed to God "Lord I don't believe you gave me this beautiful child for me to watch her float out to sea. Lord, you know I am a pitiful swimmer but somehow Lord I'm trusting You to get me out there". And so went my prayer.
The first stroke of my arm seemed to be in slow motion, I couldn't believe I was doing this. I swam until I no longer knew or could feel that I had legs. But I just kept praying and keeping my eyes on her. I saw my arm somehow operating on its own hook over the edge of that small boat and began making my way back pulling her and calming her, when everything inside me was screaming.
We made it back to shore and even got some applause but my life was forever changed by that experience. I learned we don't always have to operate on our own strength. But, if we can trust enough and take that first stroke we have all the strength we need. I must say it changed my daughter's life too. She hates boats! But I hope she has gained more than that in the retelling of the story. She's 22 years old now and graduates from college this May. I see her horizons as limitless and I know with her faith she can go wherever God leads.