Many years ago when my oldest boy was little, we took a family vacation to Perdido Key FL. It was a beautiful and hot September day and we were enjoying having the beach to ourselves. School age kids were back in school, so it was the perfect time for us to enjoy the beach without crowds. As far as you could see to the east and to the west, no one was on the beach. After many hours of playing in the sand and water, the Kyle wanted to go to the pool for a while. Normally, I would have packed up and headed to the pool as well, but I had a very strange feeling that I should just remain on the beach for some quiet time. I remember my family looking at me like I was crazy. I stayed.
Kyle and his dad had made it back to the boardwalk and was showering off the sand. They soon noticed that I was running in a full sprint down the beach. They had no idea what had just transpired!
As I sat in my beach chair, looking straight ahead into the beautiful water, the reason for me staying back a little longer appeared right before me. An elderly man, lotioned up with sunscreen, was hanging on to a partially blown up cheap plastic float. Waves were crashing over his head, one after another, allowing no time for him to catch his breath. With the last bit of strength he had, he held on to his float and one of his water shoes. I leaped to my feet and ran to the tall 6’ drowning man who couldn’t get a break from the breaking waves. I wrapped my arms around his greasy body and pulled him up on to the hard sand. I made sure he could breath. I asked him a few questions to try to find out where his family may be. He pointed east. The next condo wasn’t just ‘next door’ but was a ways down the beach. I took off running and this must be where the adrenaline kicked in. I don’t remember the actual run, have no concept of the amount of time it took, or the distance I ran, before reaching the first humans I saw. I asked a group of elderly men and women who were accompanied by a slightly younger lady if they were missing anyone. After looking around and taking a head count, they realized that they were missing a friend. The youngest lady in the group was responsible for the elderly group of tourist from an assisted living facility on vacation. I shared with them about what had just taken place in front of my beach chair. They walked back to my resting spot to see if the gentleman was their friend and indeed, it was. We helped the nearly drowned man rise to his feet. I gathered up his belongings from the beach as well as his sun hat that was still floating in the ocean. As they were walking back to their condo, I snapped a photo of them and still have it today. The picture reminds me that when God places that still small voice inside of you, that you are to do what He says. A million times since that day, I have asked “what if”. What if I had not listened to God and had just packed up my stuff as normal and went back to the pool with the family? What if I had picked up a book and just read instead of looking into the ocean? What if we had not planned our vacation for that week? What if we had not rented my cousins condo and stayed somewhere else? What if….. I’m so thankful that I obeyed God that day! What opportunities have I missed those times I didn’t?