For those who know me best know I often have a flare for the dramatic. But sometimes, something so monumental happens to you, that when you re-tell your story to others, the facts alone are dramatic enough. Not everyone gets to say they've had a near-death experience. I've never been in want of such an experience, myself, but I now get to join this elite group of folks. In fact, both my husband and I can now look at each other and say with tears in our eyes, "Remember the day we both nearly died!"
For the past two years, my husband and I have been planning and preparing for a trip to the Canadian Rockies. Last week, we headed that way and were awe-struck at the beauty of Lake Louise with its turquoise green color and picturesque panoramic view of the mountains. It is indeed the most beautiful place on this planet. Throughout the week, we enjoyed canoe-ing on Lake Louise and hiking up and down the surrounding mountains. We took in the glacier cool air, laughed at the wildlife...my favorites were the chipmunks...and simply enjoyed one another's presence. It's not that often that we get to be away from our children, and although we missed them terribly, it was so good for us to be able to focus on just one another for once.
While we were there, we made plans to white water raft down the Kicking Horse River. Just like with any white water rafting excursion, the guide gave his usual safety speech, and while I was quite nervous about rafting I was as equally excited and knew it would be a great time. The hubs and I have rafted before in Colorado Springs. So, I knew what I was getting into. The water on the river was very high due to lots of rain in the area, and we were told there would be a section of category 4+ rapids (5 is the highest). We rafted about an hour and a half enjoying the level 1,2 and 3 rapids while taking in the glorious scenery staying ever-mindful that our section of 4+ rapids was coming up quickly. Our guide stopped a couple of times allowing us to stretch our legs on the shoreline. At our last stop, the guide got us out of our boat and showed us the set of 4+ rapids we were about to set out to accomplish. I have to admit, they looked terrifying but exciting at the same time. We all knew the risks, but were anxious to get it behind us so that we could officially say we conquered the Kicking Horse River rapids. So, back in the boat we went with our adventure awaiting us just around the bend.
We made it through the first set of rapids successfully, and as we approached the second set, instantly I found myself underwater. It took me a few moments to realize what was happening, but as I did I found myself in the middle of my worst nightmare. Our boat had flipped upside down and I was trapped underneath it in 32 degrees of water. I frantically recalled what the safety instructor had told us to do..."Find an air pocket!" As I stretched my head up and found my first one, I quickly took in as much air as I could before I was forced back under water. Soon after, I found a second air pocket. As I was taking in as much air as I could I saw the other side of the raft and used my feet to try to push myself out from underneath it. I was unsuccessful and found myself back underwater.
Here is where my life flashed before my eyes.
I have no idea how long I was under water. Later, we determined I was trapped under the raft and underwater for about a half of a mile. Physically, I felt very strange things happening to my body. I figured my lungs were filling with water, and as I was waiting to lose consciousness I found myself talking to the Lord. I pleaded with him to not take both my husband and me at the same time. We have three small children and I couldn't imagine them growing up as orphans. Those are the obvious thoughts you have as your mind is racing. Yet strangely, I was so confident with where my next destination was going to be after losing consciousness. I knew I was heading to my eternal home, my original home, but I told the Lord it just couldn't quite be my time. I am only 34-years-old, and I knew the Lord couldn't be done with me yet, I thought. Just as my body was preparing to lose consciousness, I felt sunlight and knew I must be out from underneath the raft. I floated on my back for a few moments and took in as much air as I physically could. Suddenly I heard my husband's voice yell, "Grab the rope!" He was alive!! And I did just as I was told, thank you very much. I reached out my hand and grabbed the rope of our upside-down raft.
Here is where my memory gets fuzzy.
My husband later told me this is where he and I swam over to the rescue boat. He helped push me into the rescue boat, but there was no room for my husband. Already they had rescued one other woman and my dear husband had no where to go except back in the rapids. He swam to another raft that had stayed afloat where others pulled him into safety. He was in the water the longest and took in a lot of water while being battered and bruised by the rocks underneath. He ended up further down the river on the shore with a group of people who had helped save the 9 of us who were fighting in the rapids. For a moment, I didn't know if my husband was alive or not. One may think drowning is the worst thing in the world, and it just might be. But not knowing if the love of my life was still alive was as equally bad.
Later, I found out that he was ok and was finally reunited with him. We hugged and cried and hugged and cried and cried. And cried. And that's it, folks. This is where the story ends. Or does it?
Yes, I am a survivor. Yes, I almost drowned to death. So did my husband. Some may say it was the moving rapids in the river that finally moved the raft off of being on top of me. Some may say we lived because we had a ton of help from others and the excellent effort of the rescue boat driver. But ultimately for me, it came down to this. I lived because the Author of life and death allowed me to. Plain and simple. Some may say it was because of good luck. I say it's because of a Good God. Some may say I survived because of my super human spirit and strength. I say it's because of Jesus' supernatural Spirit that lives within me.
Who knows really why the Lord allowed this to happen? We may never know completely, but because of it my husband and I were able to give all the glory to God for saving our lives. We were able to share our faith countless times as we re-told our survival story to others while on our trip. I realized just how much I love my husband and my children and my God. Beauty truly comes from ashes. Our God is alive and is as powerful as ever. And He can use anything that happens in your life for the good of others and to make His name famous.
And that, my friends, is what I plan to do. Yes, I am a survivor, but not from surviving a near-drowning experience. I survived death when I chose to follow Christ with my life, when I realized how much He loved me by dying for me and overcoming the grave for the entire world. When I made the choice to believe that, to love Him, and to ultimately follow Him with my life, that's the day I died. And a new creation was born. One that will ultimately conquer death just as He did and live in Glory with Him forever and ever.
Until then, I will continue fulfilling the purpose He has called me to fulfill. To live for the One who gave it all just for me and for YOU. To make His name famous by encouraging others to turn their lives over to the One and Only who has the power to ultimately save us all from death. The beautiful thing is you don't have to have a near drowning experience to come to that realization. Praise God for that. You can make that choice right where you are in the glorious mundane of life. Don't wait another moment. It is so true what they say. Life can end at any moment.
Are you prepared for that moment?
Giving God All the Glory Forever and Ever!