I remember the day I almost drowned.
I was a little guy, maybe seven or eight. Our family–my parents, my sisters, and I—was visiting friends who had a house on Lake Chatuge, just over the Georgia state line in North Carolina. We were having a picnic at a place near their home called Shooting Creek. The name is “creek,” but Shooting Creek is more like a rushing river, especially at the picnic area, which was at the bottom of a cascading waterfall. Enormous boulders on the sides of the creek created almost a v-shaped effect of water rushing between the rocks. Signs posted in the park area warned in big red letters: “DANGEROUS RAPIDS. DO NOT GO NEAR THE WATER.”
The adults pointed out the signs. “You can play, but do not go near the water,” they said.
To a young boy who grew up practically living in the creek behind our house, that was excruciating. Creeks were heaven for me. I wanted to turn over rocks, to hunt for salamanders and crawdads.
While my parents were pulling out picnic items and talking with their friends, I wandered over to the water. I had no intention of going into the water. I went to the edge, just to look. What I didn’t know was the boulders at the edge of the creek were slick. I slipped and shot right out into Shooting Creek. The water was cold. The creek was deeper than it looked, and in a split second, I was in up to my chin. My right foot caught a rock, and there I was doing my best not to get swept downstream. The water level was just above my mouth but below my nose, which allowed me to breathe, but I couldn’t shout for help.
In my desperation, my eyes bugged out. I was able to look over to the bank, and I saw my dad. He’d seen me slip into the creek and was scanning the water’s edge, trying to figure out how to get to me. Then I saw a flash, and I heard a splash. My mom hadn’t even thought about it. She’d plunged into the creek, and in an instant had her arms around me. Fighting those rapids, she dragged us to the edge, where my dad pulled us out of the water.
Failing to heed the warnings of my parents and the signs posted around Shooting Creek almost cost me my life. What saved me from my stupidity was the unconditional love of someone bigger and wiser than I.
My friend, God gave us a whole book of warning signs. It’s the Bible, and it’s the biggest bestseller in history. And every day of our lives, He offers the unconditional love of someone bigger and wiser that can save us from ourselves. But the Bible is more than just a big sign with red letters warning us what not to do. It also contains a treasure map that can lead us to the lives we dream about. I encourage you to pick up a copy and try it out. Start with the book of Proverbs.
You can read more about the book of Proverbs in my book, Seven Stupid Things People Do To Mess Up Their Lives (and how not to do them).