Miracles Do Happen
Yesterday, at church, our pastor asked the congregation if they would be willing to share a story with someone about how they’d encountered Jesus in their lives. He asked us to stand if we would commit to share our stories. I stood, but I didn’t have a story. Three hours later, I did. I had an encounter with God and I would like to share my story with you. It’s a hard story to write and a hard story to read, but I hope you will read it.
May 17, 2008
A Sabbath Outing
Where Jesus Intersected Our Lives
It is 12:30 am I can’t sleep. Martha got up made us tea, I asked if she had any brandy to throw in, she said nope don’t have any, tonight you have to face you demons cold sober.
I’ll go back 12 hours and try to explain the events of the day. Our family is Seventh Day Adventist and the church service was winding down. I remember pastor saying in closing—would you be willing to share with others how Jesus has worked in your life and how the relationship has affected you.
Then he said, I’m not talking about a 40 year old story—I talking about what Jesus has done for you today. Well he even asked the congregation to stand if we felt that we would be willing to share with others. Well that put the pressure on-everyone stood up-so I stood up with Martha, thinking to myself, why do we have to do this?
My daughter Jenny and husband Mark had lined up a family outing after church with our 3 grandchildren and some of their friends.
We had a picnic and were going to raft down the river together from Knight’s Ferry. The day was gorgeous (hot) so the idea of floating down the river, letting the current push you along, sounded great
Jenny and Mark purchased us a 6’ 2 person inflatable raft. Jenny Mark and the kids had a much larger raft. We also had a canoe and two other rafts in the group, a total of 13 people.
We pushed off from shore and the current swiftly took us along. The journey was to take 4 hours. The first 10 minutes went well, everyone was having fun. Then we realized we were not as prepared as we thought.
Ryan Root, Jenny and Mark’s brother-in-law was in the lead in the canoe, with Josh his son and Trete, my grandson. Josh is 3 and Trete is 5, both in life jackets-Thank God! We come up to some rapids, in reality they were rated nothing more than a class one. We thought they would not be any great deal. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Ryan lost control of the canoe, Martha and I were next and did not actual see the canoe go over. We were probably about 100 feet back and were concerned with our own problem, how to navigate the up coming rapids? We hit the rapids wrong as well and I saw Martha go over the front of the raft and then the raft flipped over backwards. In that moment I lost my glasses. Now I have 2 choices either swim for it like Martha or hang on to the upside down raft. I saw Martha make it to calmer water so I managed to hang on to the raft. At this point things are happening mighty fast. I have limited vision without the glasses.
I could see that Ryan made it to shore with a child. I believe they were hollering but could not hear over the noise of the river.
After that the male mind took over and I went after the canoe to get it to shore. I knew we would need that boat to get everyone out of there. I swam down river to try and catch up with the upside down canoe. Finally I caught up to it about 200 yards down the river. The current was strong, and I grabbed a hold of the rope tied to the back of the canoe. I now was holding on to the 6’ raft with my right arm and my left arm is trying to get the canoe out of the current. My mind is saying STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! I was tired and the water was super cold. I fought it at least another 100 yards and was about to give up when I looked over to my right and about 10’ from me is little Joshua’s lifeless body floating down the river. I’ll NEVER forget it. He was unconscious and laying on his back, his head pointing down river, his vest keeping him afloat, with every wave his head went under. He was like a rag doll that contorted with every motion of the river.
With me holding two boats I was now going faster than he was. I had to let go of my inflatable and swim the ten feet, which doesn’t sound like much but I was tired. I got hold of the strap of his vest and pulled it toward me, but the ground went out from under me and the under toe took me down. Josh went with me. I had to let go of him. That happened twice that I remember. I finally got my footing and tried desperately to grab a rock to stop us but the current was too strong and I was too weak. I landed on some sand with Josh in tow. I lifted him to a rock out of the water. Josh did not respond, his face was blue, his body was limp and he was not breathing. I was in shock! I breathed into his mouth, his small chest rose, then receded. Nothing! I did it again and again to no avail. “I’m sorry Josh, I’m truly sorry,” I said to myself. Then Trevor and Orene Thorn made it down to us and got the raft tied off. We put Josh in, stripped off his clothes and dried him with a towel to get his body temp up. Hypothermia was the concern. We still got no response from Josh. Trevor tipped him over but no water came out, he was just lifeless. I breathed again and again, his chest rising and falling. I remember I slapped his cheeks and told him “you’ve got to fight Josh, fight it, you have to help us here.”
Then I heard Orene praying to Jesus and asking him for his help. In the middle of all that was taking place, she had the presence of mind to ask Jesus for help. Josh made what sounded like a grunt. It wasn’t much at first, but it was a response. I would have to say within the next five minutes he was breathing properly and crying. Praise God!!!
My son in law Mark had found a way down to us by now and assisted where needed. Trevor loaned me his sandals as I had lost mine on the trip down the rapids. I told him I would walk back up, to let Ryan know he was alright. I later found out why they had not walked down. There was a cliff between us that went into the river.
I now know why it was so all fired important that I go after that canoe. It surely wasn’t the canoe. God had to get me to that canoe so I would see Josh. When I finally got back to Josh everyone was there and Orene told me to look up on the mountain. A 1/4 mile away on the horizon was a gigantic cross that someone had erected. Thank you JESUS!!
And now I have shared what Jesus did for me today. We received a miracle. I asked Ryan what took place when the canoe tipped over. He said he reached for the boys but was only able to get hold of Trete, his son slipped through his fingers. Thanks you Ryan for saving my grandson. I want to add that I hope we never put our children and ourselves at risk like that again.
It is now 2:30 am maybe now I can sleep.
Jim Grossman II
P.S. From Martha
There were 13 people going for a leisurely afternoon river float. The nine adults each had there own encounter with Jesus. We each saw a different part of what happened. What you heard from Jim, I did not know until he had me write this down. On my little patch of gravel, that I reached, where Ryan and Trete were. I encountered a child screaming for his mother! “WE can’t find Josh! We lost Josh!”
There was a man a father in shock and frozen in the moment. Until that moment I had no idea the canoe had tipped. In the fast pace of time I saw Jim and the over turned raft going down river. Jenny and Mark and the other kids were coming toward us, I see fear in Jenny’s eyes, and the two other children in tears and frantic. Mark got their raft to our beach and headed down river. I unloaded children who only wanted to go home and we were stuck with the fact that the only way home was down the river.
I knew we were in trouble. Not us personally, on the little beach, but Josh. When you are somewhere and you know you can’t do one single thing that will help, the only thing to do is cry out to your God and Maker. On our knees, on gravel, we cried and pleaded for God’s mercy to Josh. “Save him” was the only cry I had. Not, “Thy will be done”. Only “save that child.” Was I right? I don’t know but I know that Jesus saved that child and gave him back to us. Did we deserve it? Most probably not, but God in his wisdom and understanding did what he did. Are we thankful? Oh yes we are!!! Thanks be to the God of Heaven for all he has done for us.
What kind of encounter did you have yesterday? I pray it was nothing like mine. But God is more real, more personal and more important than I have allowed him to be in a long time.
– Jim Grossman II, President