Last week I began Memorial Box Monday to share the ways, over and over, how God has provided for our needs: physically, spiritually and emotionally. To share the Memorials in our lives…..if you didn’t catch what it all means, I explain it here…
About 11 years ago I was speaking at a women’s retreat in Virginia Beach. That Friday night, after I had finished speaking my daughter Abby, a few friends and I were sitting around talking. We were laughing, eating snacks and having lots of fun. It was 2:30Am and all of a sudden one of the woman said, “Hey, we should go for a swim – in the ocean!”
In my mind’s eye I can still see all the heads turning to see what I would say. I looked at my Abby, who was a teenager at the time, her eyes were imploring me. Wanting to remind my precious oldest daughter that I am always up for a rowdy time (and a really cool mom) I jumped up to get my suit on and kind of yelled, “Let’s do it!” I glanced back as several in the room said, “Is she kidding?” Nope!
There were seven of us that night and we all donned our suits and headed out of the huge waterfront hotel and down to the water. Now at 2:30Am there are not alot of people out on the beach (like none) and we were giggling and laughing….
You have to understand, I grew up in a large city. I had never even seen the ocean until I was in my mid-twenties, so I had no idea about respecting the ocean in the middle of the night or anything else about the ocean, let alone what the middle of the night could bring.
As we approached the water I had a most splendidly brilliant idea….why not link arms and run together into the water? And for good measure, why not sing together Shania Twain’s song, “Let’s go girls?” Everyone was up for a quick adventure! Woo-hoo!
So we lined up on the side of the water, linking arms and ran full speed ahead, singing at the top of our lungs (and no we were not drunk nor had we been drinking)…”Dun, dun, dun, du du dun dah….Let’s go girls…..”
The water was bitterly cold, after all this was February, yet we ran in splashing, singing and laughing. We ran about 10 feet in and turned and headed back to shore. We were all hooting and hollering and laughing our heads off. But why stop there? This was just too much fun. Why not do it one more time and make a sweet memory – but this time let’s go further out….Sure! Why not? So again, we linked arms, singing loudly and headed out to sea, a bit further than last time. Not wanting to be outdone by anyone (there goes that competitiveness I try on occasion to subdue)….I decided to take one more extra step than every one else. I broke arms and dashed one giant step more. No one was going to accuse me of being a wimp!!
As my feet hit the ocean floor, I turned to head back to shore and in an instant I was hit in the side of my left knee by the most powerful force I have ever felt (yes, even more power than the horse kick this summer). **On a sidenote, if I had died at that instant and upon my arrival in heaven and someone had said, what happened to you?’ I would have told them the story, but then said, “i have no idea what hit me, I think a semi truck came out of nowhere….”**
When I was hit, by whatever it was, there was a loud popping sound of my left knee area and it could be heard over the ocean roar. The pain was intense and I instantly fell backward…..and the tide was heading out and in a flash I was heading out to sea. I was screaming because my friends had no idea that I had been hit by something and I could not stand up and so in a sitting position the current was sweeping me rapidly out into the ocean…..
One of the woman at the retreat was a woman named Bessie and she is a sweet friend. She was in her hotel room, hundreds of feet from the shore of the ocean on the opposite side of the building. Her roomies and her were lying in bed chatting and with the windows fully closed they heard my screaming. They had no idea it was me, but they wondered what was happening and who was in trouble and they started to pray.
I joke around alot and those who are very closest to me know that I love to say and do random and bizarre things, but they turned and saw the look on my face (they told me later) and knew that I was in serious trouble and truly, the tide was so powerful that night that in a matter of seconds I was not within reach.
I have heard people who are facing death saying that they saw their lives flash before their eyes. At that moment my life was indeed flashing past my eyes and I wondered how Abigail would do to watch her mom being washed out to sea and drown.
One of the young woman with us that night was a girl named Monica. She had been next to me as we linked arms. When she saw the look in my eyes, she told me later, she knew in a second that I was about to drown and risking her own life she plunged into the sea to get me. Monica is just a teeny, tiny little gal, but obviously the Lord gave her supernatural power and she came out to where I was now even further from the shore and grabbed me and drug me back to the shore. It is a miracle – God’s obvious provision and protection.
I could not stand or walk. (As it turns out when I was hit – the power of the blow tore my miniscus.) We sat on the shore and all the seriousness of the situation flooded over us. We wondered what could have hit me? It was the most powerful hit and out of nowhere.
My friends had to carry me back to my room and I didn’t sleep all night….the pain was killing me and I was overcome by the seriousness of what had happened. I was also stumped – what had hit me. I asked the Lord to show us what it had been.
The next morning friends came to our room. They had to show me what was lying on the beach right where they had pulled me out. And there lying on the beach was a dead shark. It was probably about three feet long. It was perfectly whole but perfectly dead. I knew instantly that Almighty God had brought that shark to shore as if to say, “I am the God of land and sea, the ocean creatures are subject to my authority and this is what messed with you last night, but I had the final word. Your life is in my hands and until the day I call you home, nothing can take your life from you.”
A friend who grew up on the ocean in Ft. Lauderdale told me later that never, ever in all her years of childhood, teens, or adult had she ever seen a shark wash up on shore. Her home was on the water, and never once did they find a shark on the shore!? Hmmmmm….imagine that!!
I was humbled and in awe of God’s obvious protection. Little did I know: that sharks are attracted to splashing, which we had done plenty with running in the first time and now the second; that sharks come closer to shore to eat in the middle of the night; that sharks bang into their prey to ‘taste’ them before circling around and coming back for a bite. Little did I know just how dangerous the ocean really is.
And so we have a little shark in our box causes us to remember God’s divine protection over our lives. He is above all kingdoms (land and sea), He is powerful and He loves us that much!!