Maybe it was teen rebellion, or maybe it was the undeniable call of the first warm day after winter; whatever the reason, my daughter skipped school that day headed for the lake. The combination of a beautiful day and cabin fever made the seduction of truancy hard to resist.
By hiding swimsuits and towels in the trunk of the car, this group of seven life-long friends had planned ahead to make this adventure as soon as a day was warm enough to swim. Down to the river they went, parking near the dam where the water was deep enough to jump off the boulders and not break their daring necks.
They reverted back to childhood days for hours as they laughed and talked about what would happen after their senior year was over. It was hard to deny that where they were at this very moment was where they would like to spend the rest of their lives – hanging out together forever.
The girls crawled onto the bank of the river to sun themselves, while the guys continued to challenge each other with tricky moves as they cascaded from the boulder into the calm water below.
Soon an alarm began to sound. In all their years of coming to the river, they had never heard an alarm before. The girls stand up looking for a quick escape, as one girl yells, “We’ve been caught!”
The guys swim near the boulder they have been jumping from all day, to and understand why there is alarm sounding. Suddenly one of the guys begins to climb up yelling at the others to hurry and get out of the water. Then turning he reaches back to grab extended hands trying to reach the top.
My daughter recount hearing her spirit call out to God, as her mind is panicking about what to do.
As soon as they are out of the water, he point to a small sign on the other side of the river, attached to the wall of the dam.
At first it seems they are trapped with no way to reach land without swimming in waters that are quickly becoming rapids. But beneath them, they can see submerged stones. Moving quickly they begin crossing on stones, which are invisible to the girls on the land. At first it they are ankle-deep then, calf, then knee, then thigh.
Lunging forward, they dig their fingers and toes into the bank of the river, and pull themselves and each other to safety.
I thought about this over the years. I’ve thought about how crazy teens can be. I’ve thought about how thankful we all were they survived.
As I write this, one of the young men from the lake that day, is laying in a hospital bed. Having survived Afghanistan, he returned and was in a car wreck last week. One leg has been amputated and they are fighting to save an eye.
Flash backs from the war make it difficult to keep him still in the bed as he fights the nurses and doctors believing them to be guards in a terrorist prison camp.
These children were in my home, around my table, and watched movies on my couch. I know I talked with them about believing in Christ. I know I talked with them about life and good choices. But I’m torn inside wondering if my words were enough.
Did they hear the message of Christ through our talks or was I, like the sign on the dam wall, a message that was ignored until they were in danger?
Don’t we all walk close to waters deep wondering about finding safety and peace? Don’t we all have days of searching for hidden stones to cross rising waters?
Recently I have thought about our children down by the river and I have seen them from God’s point of view. He was there in the river with them; He was the Rock who is higher than the raging waters.
No matter where our children are, no matter what they go through, God will not leave them.
When the sirens sound on the way to the hospital and waters rise dangerously high threatening their lives, there is a Rock to cling to – Christ.
Before the dam was built, before the waters came rushing up, the foundation stones were laid, if for no other reason than for the very day the dam gates opened wide and the world of water came rushing in.
We can’t protect our children from everything, but we can be a foundation in the world, and from the world, and we can pray as Christ prayed:
“For I gave them the words you gave me…Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – while I was with them I protected them and kept them safe by that name you have given to me…My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:8,11,15 NAS)
I am praying for the children and young adults around the world today, to choose Christ. I am praying also for their parents to sanctify their own lives by the Word of God; for these will be the submerged stones that bring our children safely to shore.
(photo credit: TVA River Neighbors: WWW.TVA.com)
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