Jenny and I were paddling, sometimes floating, hanging onto the edges of a rubber raft in shallow water. It was an unpatrolled beach on the Gold Coast.
The warm sun lulled us into a hazy, ‘half with it’ state as we talked …
Suddenly Jenny interrupted. “Nettie, can you touch the bottom?” her voice curled tightly around the question mark.
I poked my toes down. Further and further. All I felt was cool water and no sand at all. What had happened to the beach?
“We’re way out!” I exclaimed, looking in dismay at the fast-receding beach. “We’re caught in a rip!”
Jenny was a good a swimmer so was less concerned then I was.
I was scared.
We were soon out in the menacing-looking ocean, surrounded by turbulent waves as deep currents swirled against one another and splashed wildly.
I felt helpless.
Were we going to be drowned?
“Let’s praise God,” Jenny suggested. “You know, like Paul and Silas.”
So we did. Out loud against the roar of the crashing waves. And still we clung to the rubber raft.
As I praised Him, I heard a familiar still small voice assure me we would be safe.
Then a HUGE wave towered above us. A mass of churning foam and wild roaring. It pushed me down, down, and down. All that water, so deep, but still no sandy floor… I flailed and spluttered my way back to the surface only to realise my rubber raft had been wrenched from my hands.
My life raft.
Not a strong swimmer, I was at the mercy of this wild, destructive ocean.
Jenny was metres away from me now, still swimming. Fear gripped me and my entire body felt weak – powerless to resist such force.
Father! God! My heart screamed.
Another roar sounded behind me and again I was pushed down and rolled over and over like a rag toy in the hands of an angry giant. Still no sand beneath my feet.
I gasped and coughed as I surfaced again. God had told me we’d be safe – but what if it wasn’t God? What if I’d heard only what I’d hoped to hear? One more wave like those would surely be the end for me.
My heart sank as a third wave thundered towards me. Again it pushed me down and rolled me over and around. Over and over, and then – I almost sobbed with relief – my feet and knees scraped upon wonderful, solid sand.
Still floundering, I tried to stand up.
A stranger was running into the water. He helped me onto shaky legs and I was thankful … but I knew God had already rescued me. Jenny was walking out of the now-shallow water too.
A bubble of joy swelled inside me at the thought of it – God had sent those huge, terrifying waves not to scare us, but to carry us back to shore.
A slightly longer version of this story won a third prize and was published in A chicken can make a difference, the Stories of Life anthology 2016.
Have you ever needed God to intervene to save your life? I’d love to hear about it.