The truck skidded off the road and slid on the high velocity water being driven by the monstrous hurricane. Tom knew that St. Andrews Bay was very close and they’d be under water soon so He grabbed the radio and yelled over the deafening sounds outside.
“Mayday! Truck in the water! St. Andrews Bay!” That’s all the time he had before hitting the water except to shout instructions to his son, Chad, and his wife, Jamie. “Guys, we’re going down but don’t panic, we’ll have air for several minutes. Once we’re under get your seatbelts off. Water will fill the cabin and then we’ll be able to open the doors and swim to the surface. Stay calm, we’ll be okay.”
There was calm and darkness and an eerie quiet inside until Jamie felt the cold on her feet.
“The water’s coming in!” She screamed as she pulled her feet up in fear, but Tom’s easy confident voice cut the tension.
“We’re okay, Jamie, remember when we’re full of water we can open the doors. Take a deep breath now. Here we go!”
For a moment the truck felt like a dreadfully dark coffin but then the doors opened and hope lifted them to the surface where they were once again assaulted by the elements. Tom again showed the way.
“Head into the wind! Chad, take care of Jamie! I’ll be right behind you!” He choked back a mouth full of the bay and spoke no more.
Chad and Jamie slowly made progress and lost track of Tom until they were almost to shore. Chad was the first to notice that his dad was not there.
“Dad! Where are you? You okay?” Then Jamie joined in.
“Tom, please answer, where are you? Please, Tom!” But there was nothing they could do.
Out in the bay, Tom was weakened when his exertion triggered an attack of asthma. His strength was gone and he spoke a final prayer. “Take care of them, Lord. I’m ready.” He had nothing left and all his efforts ceased. Chad, in anguish, knew he couldn’t go back and leave Jamie on her own and he looked to Heaven and screamed. “No! Please, God, no! Please bring him back. Can’t You help us?” Jamie’s efforts to speak over the storm were in vain so she reached out and put one arm around his neck and pulled him to her. “I’m so sorry, my darling. I’m so sorry.” She whispered.
Chad’s mind traveled back in time to his childhood, his stubborn teens and his short adulthood and in every step along the way he saw his dad leading, guiding and protecting him. There was a fellowship of faith between them that knew no limitations and in that moment, at the height of his grief, he jumped to his feet leaned over and spoke tenderly next to Jamie’s ear.
“I can’t let him go like this. I have to try. Don’t try to stop me. Dad would say pray. Yes, pray!”
And suddenly he was gone diving headlong into the churning waters and almost certain death. Jamie gasped at what had just happened as she realized that she may have lost everything and fear engulfed her spirit. She screamed into the relentless wind, slumped to the sand and then remembered and began to pray.
When a child of God has begun the walk back home as Tom had, there must be a peace like the view from a lighthouse surrounded by the storm. And Heaven awaited. Yet, within the human spirit there is, at times, an indefinable strength and a power not bound by earthly limits. That spirit existed within this man’s son who would dive into Hell without regard for his own safety with only a thread of hope of saving the man who gave him life. Chad had professed by his actions the highest faith of all, somehow knowing that God would see and respond.
At that moment when Chad’s face struck the water, fate was shaken and from the bottom of the bay a wooden beam was dislodged and made its way to the surface becoming entangled with Tom’s lifeless body. Chad couldn’t see a thing and the only sound was the wind, yet a force determined to honor his godly faith somehow led him to his dad. There was a pulse and Chad breathed life back into his dad, his best friend. God smiled and Heaven would have to wait.
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