Matthew 7:7″Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
This is a true story about how Jesus renewed my faith by going through a near-death experience. Now, I’ve always accepted Jesus in my life and felt that He loved me. My parents raised me to never doubt the teachings of Jesus and to always be faithful to Him. But unfortunately, every once in a while I fall into a rut. This was a big moment that changed my life forever.
It was the start of my freshman year in college in 2009. I had come back to my hometown of Bismarck, ND for Labor Day weekend. I was excited to reunite with a couple of my friends and talk about how cool college was. It was a hot Saturday afternoon and my friends Dan, Jimmy and I decided to hang out at the river (Missouri River). This was something we frequently did during the summer, so it brought us back.
Dan, Jimmy and I were wading out into the river and we could almost stand in the middle of it because it was so shallow that year. We were just talking, standing about knee high in the river and the wind blew someone’s beach ball past us. I decided to test my skills and swim upriver after it. Obviously this was a terrible idea because I wasn’t a very fast swimmer and it’s very difficult to swim up the Missouri River’s current.
After about a minute or so of swimming I realized I would never be able to catch up with the ball so I swam back to my friends. I was extremely exhausted and had to catch my breath for a while. In the meantime, someone with their boat grabbed the beach ball and drove it to Jimmy while we were still standing on the underwater sandbar in the middle of river. Jimmy walked out to the edge of the sandbar to grab it from the boatman and handed it to Dan. Dan then started to walk towards the beach to return the beach ball to its rightful owner. What Dan and I didn’t notice was that Jimmy lost his footing on the sandbar and got sucked into the current.
Some of you may think this isn’t a big deal but Jimmy couldn’t swim. He started struggling and yelling for help. At first I thought he was joking around and I didn’t really take him seriously because I was still exhausted from trying to swim after the ball. But after a few moments, I realized Jimmy really did need help. I swam out and grabbed him with one arm, while trying to swim us back with the other. We didn’t seem to be getting anywhere at all. I even tried swimming underwater and pushing him from behind but that didn’t work either. He was struggling frantically and I was doing my best to calm him down while trying to stay calm myself.
This went on for about a minute or two but it seemed like an hour. I finally realized I couldn’t do this on my own so I yelled to Dan for help, who wasn’t aware of what was going on while he was returning the beach ball. Dan quickly realized what was going on and ran out to us and went on the other side of Jimmy to help me swim him back to shore. We were still struggling and all of us were extremely exhausted. We didn’t seem to be going anywhere and I starting thinking in my head, “we could actually drown today…”
I remember asking Jesus to help us or at least my friends because I wanted them to reach shore at the very least. So I remember saying to myself “Jesus we need your help, we can’t do this without you,” but we still weren’t getting anywhere. I started to think this was really it and we were all going to drown. But just when I was about to give up and accept the inevitable, I reached out my foot and felt a tiny piece of a sandbar! I used my last ounce of strength to help Jimmy on the tiny bit of sandbar, who then helped Dan on it. The sandbar was about a 5-foot extension off of the main sandbar and was probably only a foot or two wide, just enough to fit us three on it.
We then felt a huge sigh of relief and were completely exhausted when we finally got to shore. I just remember laying there and thinking to myself, “was that piece of sandbar always there or did Jesus create it just for us?” It seems silly to think that but the sandbar was just big enough for us to fit on. To this day I truly believe Jesus performed a miracle and stretched that sandbar just enough for us. I’ve told people this story before and they always say, “Oh, I’m sure that it was there the whole time.” But regardless of what they say, I still believe. People always use the expression, “I almost died today,” and now I just laugh when I hear someone say that and think back to that Labor Day weekend.
Jesus has helped me out in so many ways and this story sums up the extent of his awesomeness! He truly saved my life that day. Jimmy, Dan and I are living proof that Jesus answers prayers. Although it’s tough to think He is not there or doesn’t care sometimes when things get bad, He will always give you the help you need to make it. After all, He doesn’t promise an easy journey but promises a safe passage.