Sometimes a remembered event from my childhood is so golden that I wonder if it was really that good or if time and distance have colored my perception to create that perfect snapshot of memory. Some memories are like soft-edged, slightly out-of-focus pictures with rosy pink hues and the faint lingering perfume of long ago smells. Others are clear and sharp and bright with primary colors. They stand out in 3-D and exude fondly remembered sounds and smells. One of my favorite summer memories is like that.
If you have ever seen Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! or even heard the theme song, you can picture how it was in my home town in central Oklahoma where “the wind comes sweeping down the plains.” In my city neighborhood, shade trees were scarce, usually not more than one tree per yard. The summer sun blazed, and the winds never ceased. I loved it when we vacationed in other parts of Oklahoma where Nature showed off her stuff. I enjoyed seeing her all dressed up in bright green foliage, smelling of moss growing on tree trunks, with sounds of water splashing playfully in the background.
That’s why I relished vacationing at Devil’s Den in southern Oklahoma. We explored the rugged country where legendary outlaws like Jesse James and the Younger Gang (to whom we are related through my dad’s mother) hid from the law when Oklahoma was still Indian Territory. We hiked nature trails, climbed over boulders, gazed in awe at huge rocks in the form of objects – like the Saddle Rock, picnicked under the shade trees, and visited the little cabin where the notorious outlaw Belle Starr had once lived. Adventures galore!
One memory of a particular afternoon at Devil’s Den is as clear as a Kodak picture. I can feel the heat of the summer day and the cool relief of breezes sneaking through the green canopy of leaves rustling overhead as we children played outside our little rented cabin.
In the afternoon, Mom and my Aunt Mabel took us children swimming. They spread out their towels and sat on one of the big rocks that surrounded the rustic spot. We kids made our way carefully across the small slippery rocks that tumbled down to the little swimming hole. We plunged into the clear, cool water with shrieks of delight. A little further down from us there was a small rapid where the water gurgled mischievously as it escaped noisy children. It foamed and churned in its rush down the stream.
I was having such a good time, I didn’t realize that I was gradually drifting further from the others. Suddenly, the ground dropped down, and I was up to my chin in water. The undertow of the little rapids knocked me off my feet. I grabbed hold of a big boulder on the bank of the swimming area and hung on with all my might.
I kept saying, “Mom! Aunt Mabel!” I thought I was screaming, but they couldn’t hear me over the splashing of water and all the kids.
In my head, I started screaming, “Can’t you see I’m drowning? Don’t you care? Why don’t you jump in and save me?” I just knew I wouldn’t live to see fourth grade! It seemed like forever, but it was really all over in a matter of minutes, as I struggled until I found mud and dug in with my toes. I made it back to safety.
Sometimes in my walk with God, I feel like that little child again – smack dab in the middle of the devil’s evil design, in over my head, the current of life sweeping me away, barely hanging on by my fingertips. I am able to put on a good game face, so those around me may not even realize I’m in distress. But in my heart, I’m screaming, “God, don’t you care that I’m drowning here? Why won’t You rescue me?”
Have you ever felt that way?
If my grip had loosened on that rock all those years ago at Devil’s Den, my mother would have jumped in and rescued me. The water that was deep enough to cover my head only came to her chest. The rapids sweeping me away wouldn’t have been strong enough to withstand my mom’s instincts and courage. The fast moving waters and strong undertow looked like the rapids of the Colorado River to the child I was. My mom saw them from a different, adult perspective. She would never have allowed us children to swim in an environment that was dangerous.
That’s the thing about perspective. God sees things from a divine perspective. He will not put on His children more than we can handle. And, unlike the human beings who love us, God is never unaware of where we are and what we are going through.
Have you been swept away by life’s harsh currents?
Through the years, God has rescued and helped me so many times, that I hope I always remember and never again cry out childishly, “God, don’t You care?” Of course, He cares! One promise in His Word that has stuck with me for years: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you…” – Isaiah 43:2.
Heavenly Father is always there to grab His children by the hand and guide them to safety.