Wednesday, April 21, 2021
It was the scariest thing I ever did. I had visions of being a champion, but ended up gasping for breath and nearly drowning.
It all happened at Trout Lake Bible Camp in Minnesota when I was a freshman in High School. The music director for the week had issued a challenge. As a professional singer he could hold his breath for a long time. He proved it by diving off the large raft in the deep water and swimming under water toward shore. Then he posted a flag where he had surfaced for air. He would award five dollars to any camper who could pass his flag.
I took the challenge. I knew I could beat it. In fact, I practiced two times and beat it both times. Then came the official race. The music director stood on the dock near his flag, and I swam out to the raft. After a short rest, I started my deep breathing exercises. When I was ready, I took a large breath and dove in.
I was doing very well until I realized I had drifted left too far and came up against another large raft that was halfway to my goal. I made a decision. A very poor decision. I saw that the support braces were sufficiently high off the bottom of the lake to allow me to swim underneath, so I did. After two more strokes I came to the raft’s center braces. There was less clearance. The lake was getting shallower. I went under again. But when I got to the final braces, there was not enough room for me to exit. I was trapped.
I turned around and went back the way I came. I made it under the center braces. When I got to the deep end braces my lungs were pounding. I wondered if I would pass out. As I struggled upward, and my head broke the surface I expelled all the built-up carbon dioxide from my lungs and gasped for a breath of air. I was alive. Then, over to my right, I heard the music director shout, “Nice try, John.”
I never told him what happened. I asked for another chance and he refused. I was heartbroken. But I was glad to be alive.
I will never forget the feeling of desperately needing a breath of air. Every part of my being was focused on getting it. When it was finally available to me, I expelled everything I could that kept me from taking in what I needed.
What would our lives be like if that’s how we pursued the filling of the Holy Spirit?