It was a Summer day. The sun was shining and the river was flooding. Weeks of rain had made the water to swell over the banks. There was a cool breeze along the shores of the river, the birds were flying, the sun was warming the earth, and a girl with a heart of fire sat in a kayak. 

It was a rafting trip, but two blow-up kayaks and a misplaced sense of confidence tempted a newly turned thirteen year-old girl to take her life in her own hands. 

At first it was easy to navigate the waters, but around the bend, logs were piled up well into the middle of the river. She saw the logs just as the current caught her in its grip, and it was too late.

Suddenly, she was fighting the force of the murky waters, trying to escape the clutch of the current. She realized she did not have the strength required to paddle to safety and a rush of adrenaline slowed time.

She saw the waters force her against the logs. She felt the glacial water rush into the kayak, frigid and forceful, pushing its way towards her. 
She thought occurred to her that if she could get to the top of the logs, the water would be unable to reach her, but as she shifted, the kayak tipped. She realized she was in danger of catching her life vest on the logs allowing the water to crush her against the logs. In a panic she shifted her weight away from the logs, accidentally allowing the water to force the kayak to tip. 

The water swallowed her and fear gripped her heart. Murky waters rushed over her head and all she knew to do was obey. 

Her guide had told her not to lose the kayak or the paddle, so she held onto them tightly as her body screamed at her to breathe. She inhaled the silt filled water as she began to fight the current. Death whispered its sick song in her ear, humming to her that the water would silence her. 

As she realized that she needed to let go of the kayak and paddle to move down current, her life vest was forcing her up into the logs above her, where the current was not fast enough to force her downstream.

Her life flashed before her eyes: her mother, her father, her siblings, her friends, her dreams, her future, her past; all of it. The tears at her funeral and her mother’s broken heart all screamed in her head. She could not save herself. But she would try, with everything in her, to breathe once more and live on! 

She felt herself becoming weak, and she knew she was going to die. As she felt the darkness approach she gave it her last effort and attempted to pull herself downstream using the logs as a ladder, but she did not have the strength.

She felt deep inside the depths of her heart a gentle and quiet call. There were no words, but it spoke louder than the fear. It told her she was safe. It told her life is more than breath. 

And with an impossible trust she gave herself fully to the call. She cast herself into the arms of One she instinctively trusted; she knew He was with her and that was enough. With her final moments she spoke into the waters, “Your will be done one earth as it is in heaven.”

And as the words faded the waters vanished. The fear vanished. All semblance of light vanished. 

She was being guided, drawn without any pull toward something she felt deep in herself. All things were absent in the nothingness. She felt no weight and yet she was there, moving by the force of something outside of herself. She felt it but could not see it. 

Suddenly, a small light appeared, and as she drew nearer, she was moving into the light. As she came into the light, the call in her heart grew deeper, richer, and more discernible. All of the fear, every burden, every hope and every disappointment faded away as this presence consumed her thoughts and her heart. She was filled with joy deeper than any joy she had felt before. She felt completely and utterly happy, beyond anything she had known.

It was wholeness. Perfection. Purity. Purpose.

And just as she was almost completely consumed in the light, it was gone and the grayness of the waters returned. She floated in a mixture of disappointment and peaceful pleasure as the water’s current carried her from beneath the log. She was looking down upon herself and saw herself pop up out of the water. As she came up to the surface, her body opened its eyes and she gasped. 

Air was sweeter, though not so sweet as the presence she had just experienced. The sky was brighter, though not so bright as the presence. The world was more beautiful, the colors more vibrant, though not so beautiful as the presence. She felt the distance widen between herself and the presence she’d felt, and it seemed like a canyon had suddenly opened up, and she was on the wrong side.

Her friend swam towards her and grabbed her as the current carried her floating body downstream. As he took hold of her life vest she breathed, “Thank you,” again and again. Laughing as the words spilled from her mouth, wondering in her mind what she was saying, feeling as though her brain was wrapped in a delightful haze. 

As she was pulled to safety she simply smiled serenely, resting in peace because the presence held her. 

As her companions shed her layers to prevent hypothermia, she sat limply, unable to do anything other than smile and love the people around. She thanked them for their donated clothes and sat silently watching the world pass by as their raft carried them quietly over the waters. The world, more beautiful than ever before, passed by without any impression other than the majesty of its beauty being left behind.         
As she walked into her mother’s arms that night, taking in her mother’s scared and angry voice remind her that she had almost died, she sat serenely at peace. When her mother finished speaking, she began to cry and spoke nonsensically to her mother of how she only wanted to go back and wanted to be there again.

Laying in bed that night, fear swallowed her. Anger and depression threatened to consume her. And she yelled at the presence, “Why??!” She wept and screamed. “Why?!” 

As she rampaged, a light inside her warmed and said, “Trust me.” She knew He had a plan and quietly accepted the fate of life on earth.

Since that day, she has had highs and lows; her heart and body have been broken, but her hope remains. She has been angry with the life she has sometimes, and has been reminded she was given the gift of life with intention.

She has almost walked away from her faith, only to be reminded the supernatural exists. She has doubted the existence of God only to have the presence recall the truth.

And now she lives day by day, making mistakes, doing the best she knows how, trying to remember God has a plan. And day-by-day, as I walk through her life, I remember: this is my story. 

And maybe I was given a story like this so I could share it, because at the end of the day, though I am her, this is not my story.

This is the story of Him who has power over life and death. 

 

{Beautiful image via Tamika Rascon}