Water is a funny thing.
In the heat of the desert, water is a life-giving need. It's the cool touch of the pool when the summer sun is overhead. When the rains come, it nourishes the grass, trees, and plants--in turn giving life to creation. But water is also dangerous. Too hot, it boils and burns. Too cold, it freezes and destroys. The very thing that gives life, in an instant could take it away.
When I was a boy, I enjoyed swimming. The summer days spent by the pool or up at my parent's lake cottage in Michigan. Beating the heat was easy; dive in and let the water overtake you. I have had my fair share of water excursions, including swimming in a stranded pontoon boat from the middle of Lake Wilson.
Recently, however, I have grown fond of water less and less. In the summer of 2016, I attended a retreat up in the Wisconsin Dells area with students of my youth group. At a waterpark wave pool, I began a GoPro video detailing a goofy character who hunted sharks but could not swim. While the waves were 'off' I swam towards the deep end of the pool hoping to grab a tube before the waves began. I had not gone very far when the buzzer indicating the waves would commence, rang, and I was immediately hit by one in the face. As I came up for air, a patron of the park kicked me in the head. It was an accident of course, but I was once again under water. I swam to the top, seeking air. When I broke the surface, a wave struck me. Back underwater I tried to reach the surface again and again. Each time, my timing was off, and the waves pelted me.
I soon realized I would be unable to make it back to the shallow end if I did not get a breath of air and some respite from the water's attack. With one final push, lungs on fire, I bounced off the pool floor and up out of the water. I grabbed wildly to a man's leg and part of his tube, gasping for air. He turned around to yell at me I am sure, but when he saw the desperation on my face asked, "Are you okay?"
"I'm not okay."
That was all I could muster from my mentally and physically exhausted body. The man grabbed an empty tube nearby and gave it to me. A friend who had been in the pool with me noticed and came over to me helping me back to shallow waters.
Finally able to touch the ground below, I could feel my body losing all adrenaline it had pumped into me to stay alive. There was a relief, sure, but oddly enough, I laughed about almost dying in a stupid waterpark wave pool. The GoPro video I had started was still running, strapped around my wrist.
8 minutes and 11 seconds.
The complete journey of ridiculous adventurer to wave pool victim only took 8 minutes and 11 seconds. I've watched it a few times since that day. With each viewing, I cringe a little less. And though I am not afraid of water, I respect it a whole lot more. I am cautious a whole lot more.
Sometimes life throws junk at us, one wave at a time. It can be overwhelming and exhausting, but we cannot give up. We must persevere.
And if necessary, avoid wave pools.
------- Want to watch the video? Click the link below: