With new regulations all across the world forcing us to stay at home we seldom have that time where we can go out and enjoy an adventure of some sorts, perhaps even no time. So that leaves me with looking at the past and telling a story in which I was ‘free’.
If you have watched Johnny English: Reborn, you may recall that whenever someone brings up the word, Mozambique, Johnny would start hearing the country’s traditional music playing while his eyes would start to wriggle taking him back to a time in Mozambique that left him ‘scarred’.
I feel a similar sense of fear when someone brings up the name ‘Scarborough’. It’s a beach I will probably never forget for mostly the wrong reasons. There is one however that turned my life around.
I was 13 at the time. It was 2 years since I set my feet in those waters. Last time was a near death experience but this time I was prepared. I knew how the current was flowing, I was geared up with flippers and a wetsuit and I guess I was a stronger swimmer with more experience in the ocean.
I could see my brother raising an eyebrow and my mother showing concern for they knew what happened last time. But I was ready to face my mountain. The beach was quiet, few were on it and a handful were in the water. It was about midday when I decided to make my journey into the unknown.
As I flipped and flopped with my flippers, getting closer to the water, the past started to catch up with me, but I was not fearful. I was just so eager to get in. The water was no different to any other occasion: Ice cold. Probably around 12 °Celsius (53 °Fahrenheit). It was probably around the time where I lost feeling between my legs when my brother stormed in, always a bit later to just go and do something than I was, he told me I needed to wait for him for he had to watch over me while he was on the boogie-board.
It wasn’t long before he was deeper in than I was. He was more focused on catching some waves while I was just getting used to the water, the current, the consistency of the waves and the power it would bring. Once I started to feel comfortable I swam around, looking for waves to catch with my flippers.
I realised very quickly that I couldn’t catch a wave on my flippers. The smaller ones did not give me enough power to take me anywhere while the larger ones were too deep and very far away from any. Or so I thought.
In a few minutes I was at the deep waters, passed my brother and out of reach from anyone. Not again I thought, more frustrated at the time than scared.
I started to look at the shore and estimate the distance I had to make to get back. One of my problems is I mostly jump into a lot of situations with no plan B. I take everything with and go full on with the desired goal. During my goal of swimming back to shore I gave all that I had, just grafting forwards. After about 2 or 3 minutes I realised I was not getting anywhere but further out into the sea.
With most of my energy depleted I rested for a while, trying to replenish it and try again. I gave another go at it but only in vain. The people became the size of ants in the distance.
It was in that moment that I realised I was in serious trouble. I started to scream, demanding help from anyone. No response. I screamed again, even louder, those that could hear me could do nothing.
It was then that I called out to God for one of the first times in my life. No sound, no magical teleportation occurred. What I did see was a surfer in the distance. Even farther out than I was. He wasn’t even wearing a wetsuit and to be honest I never saw him until that very moment. All he did was point in a direction. It was in that moment that rational thinking started to return to my brain.
He was pointing to where I needed to go to get out the rip. While I was in so much fear all I wanted to do was get back never taking into account how I should get there.
I changed my trajectory to get the most out of the current and continued my struggle. Thank goodness I had flippers this time for I would have been in a lot more trouble.
5 Minutes of swimming got me to a point where I could start to see people properly again and my brother was not too far away. He simply said I need to keep going. I did just that. Excitement came when I could stand again. I took my flippers off for they started to hurt and I wasn’t a fan of keeping them on for too long. I walked only about 5 meters till a sudden drop in the sand came, making me fall and submerge completely into the waters. One of the flippers escaped my grip and very quickly disappeared. I wasn’t too concerned over that flipper, I knew my dad would be, but I’m sure he would be more concerned over me than a piece of rubber. I quickly slipped the flipper I still had on and made that final stretch to shore.
Like the big bad wolf I was huffing and puffing, using everything I had when finally I made it! Without a care in the world I dropped to the sand. All I could do was breathe. I was lucky to be alive.
Fast-forward about 3 years I had an encounter with God, revealing to me the instances where He was in my past to save me, to bring me out of trouble. That day God was simply that boy, reaching out His hand, showing the way. He could have brought a large wave to take me to shore, or a boat of some sorts. Instead he chose something that required me to give my end as well. He knew I could get out on my own, all I needed was guidance.
Sometimes to see God we need to take a closer look and find Him in something we may not expect.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
- 1 Kings 19:11-12
God was that gentle whisper.