Mark 4:35-41; 5:1-20
When death was reaching out for me, I was not alone.
Fear exploded deep inside me as I watched the wind whip the water into foamy waves around my small raft. It pitched and rolled, and I clung desperately to the side, fighting simply to stay on. This can’t be happening to me! I thought wildly. But the awful truth was staring me in the face—in another moment, I could be stepping into eternity and I wasn’t ready to meet God!
A few hours earlier, I had set out to go duck hunting on the Upper Klamath Lake. Thoughts of the disaster that would face me just a short while later couldn’t have been farther from my mind. The lake had been calm and the sky a patchy blue, with only small clouds hanging on the tips of the surrounding mountains. The air had been brisk and my luck was good—I had shot a couple of ducks just a few minutes after nearing the lake.
Pushing my way through the reeds and brush that surrounded the lake, I discovered that the ducks had gone down out in the water. Determined not to lose my prize, I found some old logs floating in the shallows and tied them together. Climbing on board my makeshift raft, I grabbed a stick and poled my way out onto the lake, toward where my ducks had gone down.
Intent on reaching the ducks, I hadn’t noticed that the weather had undergone a dramatic change. As I pushed and paddled my precarious float farther and farther out onto the lake, one of those freak autumn storms had come up. In a matter of moments the wind whirled the lake into madness and I knew I was in trouble. I was being carried away from the shore, and my frantic efforts to change my direction made no difference at all. I knew I could die at any moment.
As I clung to those old logs, sudden regrets swept over me, and I remembered the little church in Klamath Falls where I had attended services. I had always sat in the last pews with my friends, sometimes even making fun. The testimonies had bothered me so I had tried to shut them out. I hadn’t listened with much interest to the sermons, nor had I taken advantage of the altar calls and prayer times. I had firmly resisted any tug of conviction. But now, as I looked up into that storm-shrouded sky, I began to pray.
My raft was breaking apart and the water washing over me was bitterly cold. I knew I could never swim the distance to shore. “O God,” I cried out, “if You will spare my life, I’ll serve You.” I meant that prayer from the bottom of my heart—and the Lord knew I meant it. In an instant, a miracle happened! The direction of the wind changed! It started blowing from the east across the water, something very unusual in that area.
God was giving me another chance! I began to paddle furiously, and finally, just as the raft broke apart beneath me, I struggled into shallow water. Stumbling onto the shore, I fell face down on the bank and lay there exhausted, but thanking God.
My promise to God wasn’t forgotten. Just a few days later, on a Sunday morning, I made my way to church, and there I gave my heart to God. He had some surprises in store for me that day! The devil had convinced me I would be miserable being a Christian, but as I prayed, God flooded my heart with peace. In a moment of time I felt all the unhappiness and the weight of bitterness leave, and joy I can’t describe filled my soul.
There is so little peace in this world today, but there is peace in my heart. The God who controls the wind and the waves has control of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.