One Saturday morning last fall, I decided to water flowers that were planted a few days prior. There was no thought on that bright sunny day that I was about to face death.
Our townhouse is only 10 feet or so from Lake Conroe. My wife, Joyce, and I are blessed to have lived 17 years in a place with such beautiful surroundings: a 180-degree view of the marina with dozens of docked sailboats, the yacht club’s stately building further away but in clear sight, and several large three-storied condos across the water.
I was walking backward pulling on a water hose, not realizing how near I was to the lake’s edge. As I tugged at the hose, I plunged backward, headfirst into the cold lake waters, clothes and all.
When I surfaced, regaining my feet, I heard a lady’s voice coming from the condo area. “Are you all right?” she hollered.
I immediately yelled back, “Sure, I’m OK!” as I waved, but I wasn’t OK. The water was up to my chest and the bulkhead wall was over a foot higher with nothing for me to grab. My fingers could not grab the wood top. Trying to swim to a more acceptable place in full clothing was not an option. I knew then I didn’t have a chance to get out by myself.
My continued calling to Joyce was so weak I just stopped trying. I began moving step-by-step through the water toward our patio area where our wall-to-wall large windows were located. Perhaps, I thought, Joyce might be able to clearly see me.
I was in and out of consciousness as I continued to move more slowly toward my goal. Out ahead I could see our boat dock, which is connected to the bulkhead boards. It now seemed even more difficult to move forward. Just as I was in full view of our windows, I slipped underwater again. Up I came, this time with the fear of drowning. I felt that another episode would be my last. I was facing death.
I inched forward until I reached the corner of the bulkhead board and our boat dock. I felt totally exhausted and could barely stand up, so I clung even closer to the boards. I was still in chest-high cold water and hoped if I could hang on long enough, Joyce could see me. I felt a huge anxiety because I knew I was stuck. Energy and time were running out.
Hanging on, I looked up and to my grateful surprise a lady was standing in front of me. Weakly I begged, “That’s my house, go get my wife!” I assumed she was the lady from the condos across the lake.
As Joyce retrieved a ladder, the unknown lady grabbed it out of her hands and rushed to me. She quickly lowered the ladder into the water to me. I hardly had enough strength to take step one, and as the ladder was sinking in the mud, I made one wobbly final step on the white handle of the ladder. With a push from my foot, I crawled onto the deck on my stomach and laid there, so exhausted I couldn’t move.
When I looked up, there were six blue-uniformed 911 men. Two guys picked me up and dragged me to our patio where Joyce was waiting. As I sat dazed on the patio edge I said, “Just let me rest here awhile, then I’ll go into the house to lay down.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” they quickly responded. “What hospital do you want us to take you to?” With that, they lifted me on to a gurney and put me in the ambulance.
My “guardian angel” neighbor lady had disappeared after the 911 men appeared. Who was she? My wife only caught her name: “Debbie.” Maybe she lived across the lake in one of the three-storied condos? Without a doubt, God allowed this guardian angel to see me fall into the lake, and led her to follow through to my rescue, both in person and by calling 911. She was God’s messenger for me.
I spent a week in hospital care with a heart catheterization by my cardiologist, which revealed no heart attack. My knees were so battered and bruised from trying to get out that it took three days before I could walk. Our family physician told me that the hospital reports said that my strength was nearly gone and that I would have likely died if not for a timely rescue.
Today, reflecting upon my near-death experience causes me to feel closer to God. Certainly, God has yet a plan for my life. I continue to thank Him for His guardian angel! We found her, by the way. Debbie is a librarian. Yes, she lives in one of the three-storied condos across the lake. She saw me fall in the lake and called 911 while driving over to try to help me. God bless her!
What’s my story? It’s God’s promise in Psalm 91:11: “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” God keeps His Word!