Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend Magazine has some great stories. I have always bought this magazine on a Saturday.
Some features are absorbing, such as the story titled “Drowning statistics are a deadly reminder of our complex relationship with water” published in February 2017.
It is a true story written by journalist Fenella Souter about her friend Merav. Merav was 18-years-old, swimming at Victoria’s Gunnamatta Beach, on Mornington Peninsula, and it was back in December 1970. Unfortunately, this favourite beach is dangerous with a number of people drowning with sudden rips. Not your average calm beach, as conditions can change without any warning.
Merav told Fenella about her close encounter with death. She almost drowned but believed back then that the hand of God had saved her. I was impressed by the story which you can read online for yourself.
A Teenage Life at Risk
Merav was a wild teenager who threw caution to the wind and decided to go for a swim. What’s wrong with that? Nothing—except she almost lost her life in a dangerous rip. It was an unpatrolled beach, and her boyfriend, watching nervously from the beach, couldn’t swim. She struggles and prays for the first time, “Please save me. I’ll be good. I will be your greatest servant”. Suddenly she sees a young teenage male boy run into the surf. He saves her life. What she doesn’t know is that he is a state swimming champion. His sister, waiting anxiously on the beach with her boyfriend, is a nurse. Merav had been in the treacherous water for two hours.
Did God intervene to save this young teenager’s life? I believe he did. It was no sheer coincidence as events unfolded that December afternoon back in 1970.
I believe God can and does do the remarkable to save people’s lives. Why he does it for some and not for others, I cannot say. It’s beyond my understanding, and probably yours as well. I know of an older couple who were saved from a surf where they got into trouble. They could not explain how these two men came from nowhere and helped them back to land.
Let me say that God is deeply interested in everything that happens to us. He observes us 24-hours-a-day, and his hand is on our lives. He protects and goes ahead of us. Is it so surprising that he can save a young, inexperienced swimmer from drowning?
The Bible tells me in Lamentations 3:22 (The Voice), “How enduring is God’s loyal love. The Eternal has inexhaustible compassion”.
God is love, and he knows everything there is about us, even how many hairs on our head. That’s what Jesus said.
God Acts In Mysterious Ways
Some refer to a near-death experience, and Merav was close to drowning. Famous American actress Jane Seymour nearly died one day in Spain while making a movie. She had a bronchitis infection and was given the wrong type of antibiotics. She almost died but experienced God’s presence and peace in an amazing way. It changed her life, and she is a different person. Her values and perspectives have all changed. A number of other people have had similar experiences.
I believe it is true that God acts in mysterious ways. Our ways are not his ways. We cannot predict how the sovereign God will move and act.
God said to Joshua in the Old Testament, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 – NLT)
How comforting it is to know that wherever we go, God, is there with us. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations, and we wonder if God is paying attention. We may feel so alone and even depressed. We can’t feel God’s presence, and we need his guidance and help. But he will come and help—and Merav’s story of nearly drowning is not unique.
Many other people have been delivered from near-death experiences and lived to tell the tale. Don’t be sceptical, just because it hasn’t happened to you. One of the Bible’s greatest truths is that God, the creator of the whole universe, is concerned about even the smallest detail of our lives.
“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” (Psalm 139:5 – NLT)
The Bible says in Hebrews, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”(Hebrews 4:13 – NLT)
God saved Merav’s life for a reason. I don’t know if she has discovered her life’s purpose or not. But it’s worth thinking seriously about it. What would you have done?
May I remind you of the words of Psalm 139:1-5 (NLT):
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.