“…he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways…”
Psalm 91:11 (ESV)
“No,” I told my children. “I read that there are sink holes out there. It’s just not safe!”
Going to the beach was an almost daily ritual when my children were growing up. After all, we did live in Naples, the land of the world’s most beautiful beaches (in my estimation at least).
All three of my children enjoyed building castles, drawing pictures and sending me little love notes in the sand. Sometimes I’d pack a picnic, spread a cloth and hand out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apple slices and juice boxes. We’d munch, merrily watching the waves, until their little eyelids would begin to droop (often, mine, too), and I’d know it was time to bundle them in the van and head home.
In the enclave of the entrance to our house, I’d hose them off, dry and wrap them in towels, and hurry them inside, into their pajamas and beds. It would not take long for them to cast off to dreamland.
In the summer, the skies would open as they slept. Fierce storms complete with thunder and lightning would dress the heavens in flamboyant drama, but when the children awoke, they’d find the southwest Florida humidity had lifted, the air fresh, clear and cool, perfect for playing outdoors.
I have so many sweet memories from those idyllic days, but there was one day that was not sweet, the day I made a terrible choice that almost cost me everything.
With water wings, alligator raft, sand toys and other paraphernalia, the children and I loved to go adventuring from one beach to another. When I described the beach I’d recently read an article about in a local magazine, the children liked the sound of it, so we decided to load up and head out on our next great adventure.
When we arrived, the children spied a sandbar within sight off the shore. Numerous people walked through the shallows to get there. Whole families even. My two older children pleaded to join them, the youngest too young to voice his opinion (that was soon to change). I’d recently read an article that warned about people falling into sink holes on sandbars and drowning, so I knew looks could be deceiving.
“It’s just not safe,” I said, but after about forty-five minutes wherein not one person had fallen into a single sinkhole, I reluctantly agreed. The two older children had just learned to swim. I’d hold the little one. We stayed much longer than I had intended. By the time we set off for shore, the beach had cleared off and the tide had come in.
We’d only gone a few yards when the ground suddenly dropped from beneath us. Panicked, all three children clung to me. The harder I tried to keep afloat, the harder it became to keep all four of us above water. I just couldn’t do it. “Dear God!” I prayed when I went under the third time, “I’ve been a fool! My children are going to die!”
From out of nowhere, a tall blonde middle-aged man appeared. Effortlessly, he pulled all three children and me up out of the water. As I gasped, he carried the children to shore. I followed him and stumbled onto the sand beside my children. When I looked up to thank the man who had saved us, there was no one there.
No one on that long flat beach. A Grateful Believer