Hanging on a wall in my home is a special painting. It depicts the Savior Jesus Christ standing on the wind-whipped waves of the Sea of Galilee before a frightened boat of disciples. It appears that it is the moment when the disciples see him for the first time on the water, but before Peter walks out to be with him. The moment when they were troubled by what they saw, but soon will be at peace with the miracle set before them.
Miracles happen everywhere we go. A lot of miracles seem to go unnoticed. I think it is because most are seen as just a coincidence or luck. However, there are some experiences that defy all logic. These are the experiences that seem to elude the understanding of most. This is why some have a hard time believing that miracles could in fact happen today, because it means allowing a part of you to trust in something that you can’t see nor control.
I was privileged in my teens to a series of miraculous events. When I was 17 I was fortunate to be part of a miracle that helped shape everything in my life. In fact It was an event where I had lost my life, but through the grace of God was allowed to live again. It helped to change the direction of my life at that time. It took God to give me a divine correction in my life to get me back where He wanted me to be.
As a teen looking for money I was searching for job opportunities. I discovered a number of job listings on a bulletin board posted in the church. One of the postings caught my eye. It was a seasonal agriculture worker in Hawaii working in the pineapple fields of Maui.
“Hawaii! Well that is a no-brainer.”
I soon found myself in the vast pineapple fields of Maui. After one season of working I decided to return for a second season. An activity I enjoyed was of course spending time swimming in the ocean.
One day on a Friday after work a few of us (myself and some other youth working in the fields) went to the beach. It was a beautiful day on the white sandy beach. The blue sky was mostly clear with a few scattered cottony white clouds, and a low breeze was flowing off from the water. It was a perfect day for swimming, and body surfing.
The waves were larger than usual though, and looked very invitingly fun. That is when I noticed why there were large waves, “Red Flags”. Red Fags on the beach signified that there was a strong undercurrent/undertow, and no lifeguards would be on duty. In essence the beach became a “Do not swim”, or, “Swim at your own risk” area, and most stayed out of the water except for some that stood at the shore with their feet in the water as the waves rolled up.
Three of us decided that the waves didn’t seem that menacing, and we could handle it. We wouldn’t go out too far. The two others sat down and put on some flippers. One boy had two flippers, and the other had one. I didn’t have any to use, and I normally didn’t. They were both much stronger than I too. I was a pretty small teen.
The retreating waves pulled at my legs as we stood in the water at first. We laughed as we stammered to stay standing. Deeper we went into the water now enjoying the waves as they crashed over us. Soon, however, I could no longer feel the sand beneath my feet. The strong undertow was now pulling us further out. The waves began to mercilessly thrust me down to the ocean floor where the undertow would draw me down further. A number of times my face would slam up against the sand making it feel like sandpaper. It became exponentially harder to swim to the water’s surface. As I would get to the surface to draw a breath another wave would pound down filling my mouth with water, and push me back under.
Realizing my dire situation I earnestly strove to swim back to shore, but the more I tried it seemed the further out I was going. I caught glimpses of the other two boys that were with me. We were quite spread out from one another. I could see one was almost to shore, and the other was about halfway between me and the shore. Every chance I had I would shout out for help, but the roar of the waves made it impossible to hear me.
I was tired. I was slowing. The waves weren’t letting up. The struggle was too great, and I couldn’t make it up anymore before a new wave pushed me down again. I began to realize that I wasn’t going to make it. I gave up trying. I was exhausted. I let the undertow just take me as I stared up through the water, and watched as waves rolled over. I glanced at the deep ocean approaching with the ocean floor dropping off rapidly ahead of me.
Looking up I could see the water filtering the sunlight. It looked like beams of light shining down from heaven. I let my last breadth of air out as I turned my thoughts to God. Where I was scared at first I was now at peace. I talked to my Heavenly Father. I knew I hadn’t made the best decisions in life so far, and I talked to him acknowledging such. I wanted to be a better person and struggled within myself to be that, but I just didn’t know how. I knew I needed to find a better environment for myself, have good influences around me, but I didn’t know where. I could feel God’s love, and understanding as these last thoughts and feelings faded, and everything went dark…
“Sand!?” I thought. I could feel the surface of the water breaking over my head. Was this a dream? Was I alive or dead? I crawled out of the water onto the beach. Lying there with my eyes closed I could hear the waves still breaking. I could feel the breeze, and the warmth from the sun. “I’m still here!?” I opened my eyes to look around. Just a few feet away was one of the guys I had started swimming with. He gazed at me with an inquisitive expression.
“What is it?”, I asked.
Staring at me in disbelief he stated, ”I had a really hard time getting back to shore, even with my fins. I didn’t think I was going to make it. After I got to shore I looked out there for you, and for several minutes I couldn’t find you anywhere. I gave up looking, and I was getting ready to go report you missing. Then all of a sudden here you are. Out of nowhere. That’s just weird, but I’m glad you’re OK.” With that he got up and left.
Rolling over onto my back I knew what had happened. The hand of God had preserved me. He obviously had more for me to do in my life before I returned back to him. It was a turning point in my life from which I ended up moving to Utah, and began a new chapter in my spiritual learning.
So, the picture in my house…it reminds me of this event every time I look at it. It acts as a bridge of the miracles of the past to the ones of the present, and the great love Jesus and God the Father have for us all. It also has a deeper meaning for me.
When Peter left the boat to walk to Jesus he found it to be difficult once on the water. At times life can get to be too much, we start to look around at the storm around us, and we begin to sink into the waters of despair metaphorically similar as Peter did. Even when we feel all is lost in our life I know that we can call out to our Heavenly Father, and through the grace of his son Jesus Christ we can be saved. Peter called out to his Lord, and He did catch him.
OH! How wonderful is the plan of God! Unknown are the paths that we walk, but how miraculous the journey is as we place our faith in him. I am grateful for the road he has placed me upon, and even though the course corrections can be hard at times, I know that if I stay faithful He will help guide me to where I am needed.