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The Pool of Faith

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I had once heard that in early Christian churches, people were held under water for a while during baptism. The point was to remind the person that they should rely fully on God! Thankfully, baptismal services aren’t done that way today, but my experience last August seemed very similar.

During the summer before I started college, my spiritual life had begun to sink. I was studying God’s Word infrequently, and if I prayed on my own, it was during stressful times or less than once a week at night. I sometimes doubted the existence of God. If He doesn’t exist, it’s okay, I’d tell myself. I’ll just pretend I believe He does and get by. Or I’d think Going to a Christian college will restore my faith. These thoughts deeply worried me, and I began to pray about it frequently. But I received no answers.

I made a lot of new friends during my first week of classes at Toccoa (Ga.) Falls College, but I never revealed the weight on my heart. I figured I would pretend for a while that nothing was wrong and hoped that, over time, I’d be lifted up again by the Christian environment. However, orientation week brought no change. I felt horribly discouraged by the freshmen spiritual formation survey because in most areas, I scored below average.

One night, a few of my friends and I decided to walk to the falls. It had rained earlier, and I was absolutely captivated by the amount of water going over the rocks. As the others went to the pond, I stayed back and prayed and sang praises to God. I asked Him to restore my faith and reveal Himself to me somehow. It was something I had prayed many times, so I continued to expect nothing. But I had no idea what God had in store.

After about 10 minutes, I joined the others. Alba and Brandon were having a mud-ball fight. I was reluctant to join but had little choice after they threw one at me. Before long we decided to take a fully-clothed dip. About that time three juniors—Lydia, Rochelle and Justin—stopped by the pond as well.

While Alba and Brandon stayed in the shallow part, I swam toward the floating dock at the center. It wasn’t long before I could no longer touch the bottom, but it didn’t bother me—I could keep myself afloat even though I had never been the strongest swimmer. However, as I grew closer to the dock, swimming grew more difficult, and my jeans became heavier. I could no longer get my feet behind me and realized that I couldn’t move. I yelled for help, but everyone thought I was kidding—even I didn’t believe I was drowning. I went under and forced myself up to shout again. I went down believing that I wasn’t going to come back up.

While under water, millions of thoughts ran through my head: What if I die? I’m going to die. What will my family think? What will my friends think? I was positive that this would be the end. However, I wasn’t too scared to die; the devotional time only minutes earlier at the falls had restored my faith, and there was no doubt in my mind that I was saved. The water entered my lungs, and I painlessly became unconscious.

I could not know that the others were trying to rescue me. Despite his inability to swim, the first person to go in after me was Brandon. He was quickly followed by Alba, Justin, Rochelle and Lydia. Realizing the difficulty he was having, Brandon swam back to the edge of the pond to be rescued at the last second by Jessica’s hand. Jus began flagging down passing cars for help, and someone called the paramedics. The other four in the water began the difficult search for me in the pond’s murky water. I had been underwater and unconscious for almost a minute when Lydia blindly grasped me. She alone lifted me out of the water, and the others helped her get me to the floating raft.

My face was blue, and I was not breathing. Alba slapped me and shouted at me to wake up. I eventually began coughing up water and slowly regained consciousness. The first thing I said was a tear-filled, “It would’ve been okay if I drowned; I would’ve gone home to Jesus.” I thanked them all, and Alba reminded me that it was the Lord’s doing. After two nights in the hospital, I returned to my dorm in full health.

I now have no doubt that the whole weekend—from going to the falls to when I returned to my dorm—was designed by God. If anyone were to argue that it all occurred by coincidence, I could never agree with them. But more importantly, the Lord truly worked a miracle in my heart. It’s a shame that He had to bring me to a near-death experience to restore my faith in Him, but I’m very glad He did. I was also assured that God truly has a purpose for me, and I was given a stronger realization of His amazing power. I’m convinced that I was old-fashioned hand-baptized by God.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1: 2–3).

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