Monday, September 4, 2017

Near Drowning Experience

Douglas Frank Photograph

Near Drowning Experience

Oceans (Hillsong)
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

I have been praying and re-experiencing both the trauma and the ecstasy of my near drowning as written in “Drowning,” an essay describing my being caught in perilous rip tides and waves on Lake Michigan on Friday September 1st, 2017. I am specific about it because I had come to a place of total exhaustion trying to battle the currents where I just cried out to Jesus and gave into the seeming inevitable. It was beyond me as I took one last look at Pam on the beach “above the waves,” I cried out to Jesus.
On Sunday, the worship team played Oceans unexpectedly in a sermon on faith. I was again taken to a place, Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me.”  I was at a place I never expected on a gorgeous summer-ending day to be in encounter a life-threatening battle. The gale force winds had blown off, but the sequelae turmoil in the waters set a treacherous unrevealed trap.  As I came to the end of my strength, having been pulled out several hundred yards by the currents, I was beyond my capabilities with no one to help.
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
This is the verse that brought tears streaming down my face in the sanctuary on Sunday. As I wiped my face, a felt a peace and a tremble, for I had narrowly survived. Jesus had reached down and strengthened me, pulled me out. He parted the waves allowing an exodus from peril. He alone had saved, delivered, and rescued me from my watery grave. He had lifted me high upon a Rock where I could stand firm on the shore- trembling. “You've never failed and You won't start now.” I came out of the water, now hearing the roar of the surf that had almost taken me. I felt the sunlight and knew that He had reached down and lifted me out.

In my ensuing hours, I have been praying, writing and contemplating the meaning of my life restored. I am humbled and still trembling again a little as I wonder of His power made perfect in my weakness. How great thou art.
I have already written a book, Great is God’s Faithfulness, starting with the story of God’s miraculous healing on my deathbed now some 17 years ago. Physicians at the University of Virginia had told me that an undiagnosed illness, with symptoms like blood borne cancer, Aids or some unknown deadly virus would take me. After suffering for weeks with high fever and frozen joints, unable to walk, I cried out to God the words of Psalm 103, “Praise the Lord Oh my soul, all that is within me praise His holy name, Praise the Lord and forget not all His benefits. Who forgives all your diseases, and who heals all your diseases…” It was with those words that the hot fluid power of the Holy Spirit of God moved through me from head to foot healing me totally. I would return to Wisconsin from my work at the University of Virginia to complete my seminary training in pastoral care and begin my healthcare chaplaincy.
Today I stand on another path. I seem to hear a firm calling of the Spirit to go and serve the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. I hear the words of David’s Psalm 42 crying, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day He directs His love, at night His song is with me- a prayer of the God of my life…Put your hope in God for I shall yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:7,11). Yes, I want to follow Him.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
Oh, Jesus, you're my God!
The song’s words splashed through my countenance, and deep into my spirit. The close brush with death has revived a strong sense of calling within me. He has “Renewed a steadfast spirit within me…restored the joy of my salvation and granted me a willing spirit to sustain me” (Psalm 51:11-12). I will keep calling on His name to lead me and keep my eyes above the waves.  






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