He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. Psalms 18:16
He stood by his 4×4 at the end of the dirt track and looked out ominously at the Pacific Ocean. The ground dropped off sharply in front of the two young men as they took in the scene at the small bay of Salsipuedes. The Spanish name is adequate as it means; “Get out if you can.” Down below them, the waves were crashing onto the rocks that form the two sides of the small bay and onto the steep gravel beach in the middle. The waves were crashing right onto the rocks and sending up showers of foam and spray. This was definitely not a place for casual bathing. Only further out, waves formed over a submerged rock structure. There they built up into smooth and enticing waves for surfing.
David and his friend Matt watched for a while. They were deciding whether or not they could handle the large surf. Both of the young men were only beginners, they possessed more theory than experience. But they finally decided that they had come all this way and they needed to give the surfing a try. So they grabbed their borrowed surfboards and headed down the steep path that led to the rocky beach.
From the boulder-strewn beach, the waves looked even more forbidding. David was wondering how they would ever be able to get safely into the sea. His friend handed him the longer of the two boards. It was still a little too short for a learner. They tied the boards to their ankles using handkerchiefs instead of the proper straps that one should use. This was all they had on hand and the best they could do for the moment. But the inexperienced boys figured that this would hold the safety cord to their legs if the waves should separate them from their boards. Little did they know that they were playing with their lives.
It was a dangerous move to enter the water. Matt went first, showing David how to leap onto the top of the wave with his surfboard as it crashed where they were standing on the rocks. Then he rode the backwash out into the deeper water. He paddled swiftly out before the next wave came in to pound onto the boulders. Not wanting to let his friend get too far from David, or for him to notice his fear, David leaped onto the next wave as it frothed around his feet, and paddled furiously after him. Just as the next wave was just rising up to throw him back onto the rocks, he tipped the nose of the board down and dove through it. He came up on the other side surprised but safe He then swam swiftly away from the shoreline and the danger.
Once away from the violent bombardment of the shore, the ocean seemed more peaceful and David felt a bit more at ease. The two paddled out towards the off-shore break feeling the cold Pacific Ocean water filtering into their wetsuits. As they drew close to where the waves were breaking, they circled around to one side to observe the size of the waves. Most waves were breaking in even sets except for once in a while a couple considerably larger waves would break a bit further out. The smaller waves were still big for novice surfers, so they decided to try surfing these smaller ones first.
They paddled in and sat waiting for their wave. Just as they did one of the larger waves broke even further out and the whole horizon was turned to a furious white mass of foamy water. They tried desperately to turn into the wave and try to duck under it. This “duck-dive” is normally an easy maneuver, but as the waves were so big, the water pushed up under their boards and threw them over backward. It tossed and rolled the unfortunate men around uncontrollably. David let go of his board and tried to let the rough water push him down under until the wave had passed.
When he finally came up for air, his board was dragging behind him in the direction the wave had gone, but it still held to his leg by the safety cord. David quickly pulled on the cord and brought the board to him. He climbed on to it and tried to duck under the next wave that was rapidly approaching. He did not have time to get situated before the next giant crashed onto him. It thrashed him about and turned him over and over helplessly. This was when he began to think of God. He realized that against the force of mighty waters, his human strength was no match. He was at the mercy of the sea.
After the wave had gone, David pulled his board back by hauling on the cord again. He scrambled onto it and frantically paddled further out hoping to reach safer water. Matt had been tumbled too but was smiling like a kid in a candy store. His blue eyes sparkled as they reflected the color of the water and the Mexican sky. But David wasn´t laughing, his heart was pouring out to God. He knew he needed help. Prayer was the answer. If his cries could reach the Lord, then all would be well and their story wouldn´t have to end there.
Youthful hunger for adrenalin and ignorance pushed the boys on and soon they both caught waves. David struggled to stay on his feet for a few moments before he fell into the water. He nervously paddled back out beyond the break in fear of another killer wave sneaking in to smack down over him. He thought of how little he really knew about surfing and how much practice he still needed. These waves were too big for him but he was determined to do his best. All the while, the thought of trying to get safely back onto the beach without being pounded to death on the rocks was running through David´s head. He kept whispering his prayers through the salty water that ran down his face.
As the boys kept trying to catch waves and to have a good time, they constantly kept an eye out for the larger waves that broke further out. They always seemed to sneak up and were almost impossible to duck under. Every time David seemed to get beaten worse by the turbulent water and had less time to get ready before the second wave hit him. Pretty soon he grew tired and wanted to get back on dry land.
David headed over to where his friend Matt was to tell him that he was going to head in. But just then, he saw one of the giant waves building up to break. He paddled furiously to get under it before it broke, but he was too late. He misjudged the wave completely and it carried him upwards as it built. Instead of popping through the peak of the wave just before it broke, David was thrown over backward. He fell through the air with the board on top of him and the entire wave following it. The wave slammed him down on the face of the water with the full weight of the water behind it. It struck with such a force that he thought he would be completely crushed. He curled up into a ball to try and protect himself and not leave too much body surface for the wave to toss around.
When David opened his eyes everything was dark. Slowly he began to feel which way was up and as his surfboard began pulling at his leg. He started to swim up to the surface. Just as he reached the surface he had only enough time to catch a breath of air before the second wave crashed all around him. Once again he was tumbled and tossed in the whitewater.
He was no longer having fun and his need to get out became urgent. David began to think seriously of how he was going to escape this rough sea and get safely onto the steep rocky shore. He decided the only way would be to ride a wave right up onto the head-sized boulders of the beach. He could then put his feet down and hold on till the wave peeled back and left him to clamber to safety. He would then have to get out of the way before the next wave crashed down and pounded him to death on the rocks. Without a surfboard to ride high enough in, this would be impossible.
David was still thinking of his predicament when another huge wave came from behind. He thought he could lie on the board and let the whitewater carry him in. So he began paddling as hard as he could to get up some speed. The wave was a huge foamy white mass. When it reached him, it picked him right up. For a fleeting moment, he thought that his plan was going to work. But once again the wave turned him over and began to roll and buffet him uncontrollably.
In the turmoil, he felt the improvised strap that held the surfboard to his ankle snap. He knew that in an instant the board would be carried away with the wave. Without the board, he was as good as dead. In a panic, he lunged out with his hand in the direction where he had last felt the board pulling him. It was a desperate attempt with impossible odds. All he could see was white swirling water all around. He did not even have a clue which way was up, only that his board had gone that way a millisecond ago. He stretched as far as He could and miraculously his hand closed on the very end of the safety cord. He could not believe what had just happened. But he held on to that cord for dear life, until the thrashing wave passed and he could come up for air.
Trembling but relieved David tied the remaining cord to his leg as best he could. It wasn´t far now to reach the shore and a kinder and gentler wave carried him in on its whitewash. As it crashed onto the sizable stones of the beach he was held from crushing down on them by the buoyancy of the surfboard. He thrust his feet down to find a foothold and held fast as the spent wave tore back out to sea. As soon as he could move, he scrambled higher up the beach just before the next wave came crashing down.
David found a safe place to sit his exhausted body far away from the danger of the crashing surf. Only then as he sat next to the surfboard that had saved his life, did the weight and fear of the moment really hit him. He sat there in shock as the adrenaline wore off. His blank stare went out over the frothing waves. He realized that it had been God´s choice to throw him a lifeline. He was blessed that the Lord chose not to end his story there that day on the rough seas and rocks of the Mexican coastline.
We wish that this story could be the definitive one that made our protagonist turn and make seeking the Lord the most important thing in his life. But unfortunately, the receiver of the miracle that day would need more experiences and much more encouragement from the Lord before he would make the effort to make God the focal point of his life. Some people are just too stubborn. They refuse to hear the voice of God calling them unto Him. They think as they chase their adventures and all their chosen pursuits, that they are not that far from Christ. But at least we can testify today that David did finally start listening to the Lord. He has learned from life and his experiences that God is here and that He wants us to walk with Him each day! Could we take a moment in our busy schedules to turn our thoughts towards Heaven? Could we recall the events in our lives where Jesus has been there to hold us up? Shall we take heed of the warning of danger? Shall we take this opportunity to stop refusing our Savior´s outstretched hand? Shall we cling to Jesus as our friend David did to the lifeline God placed in his hand that day in the rough seas of Mexico?
Note: The protagonist of our new stories wishes to remain anonymous. But we feel that the accounts of how he was led by the Lord, kept safe, and eventually returned to the seeking of our Savior with all his heart, is our story too. May we all learn from his life as we watch David being taught in faith by the Holy Spirit.