Saved in the Water
“I’m not going to make it, I’m about to die.” Those quick words came to mind as I clung to a fallen tree branch hanging over this curve in the Niangua River. My head was barely above water and the swift swollen river current pulled hard on my body. The unworn life jacket was still attached to my upside-down kayak downstream, which had been swept from under me. FYI, I’m not a good swimmer.
“Let go, cross your arms, and float feet first to shallow water!” yelled the lady on the gravel bar across from me. What other option did I have? I was running out of strength and energy. I let go.
Instead of floating to shallow water the current immediately took me under. It was seconds, I’m sure, but others later said it seemed like I was under water a long time. Fortunately, I did not get tangled in the tree and finally I came to the surface, gasping for air. I was still in deep water. I could see a man mid-stream reaching out his hand to me. I tried to take it but was too far away. He waded in to the deep water, grabbed my hand and with a few strokes had his feet back on the ground, but my feet were not, and with no energy I told him I couldn’t stand. He pulled me toward himself and finally I was able to get my feet on the ground, still with water about chest high, still with the current pulling me, my legs weak, trembling. The two ladies on shore ran out and helped him pull me out of the current, staggering to shallower water.
My saviors name was Benjamin Bennett. I seriously doubt I would have survived without him. I will be forever grateful for his quick and heroic action. The two ladies were Melissa and Micah. Rexanne, my wife, had gone through the river curve ahead of me (successfully) and was able to catch my kayak and paddle as they floated, without me, downstream. She needed help from some fishermen to get the two kayaks to shore. Just out of sight, she waited anxiously.
While she waited, Ben had come to the rescue! Ben saved my physical life, but readers of my articles will know I have hope beyond this life with faith in Jesus the Messiah as my lord and savior! An odd thing occurred as the current took me down, baptizing me in the Niangua. I remember opening my eyes and seeing light. Nothing too dramatic, no figure in the distance beckoning me on, but I remember being surprised at the brightness of the light, and for a second, I thought, “If this is it, Lord, I’m ready.”
And then, as if resurrected, I came to the surface and there was Ben, holding out his hand to save me. Thank you, Ben. And thank you, Lord, because you have held out your hand too, you have provided light, and my ultimate resurrection is assured.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like this, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom. 6:3-5).
Cross Point: “Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).