“He reached down from high above and took hold of me. He pulled me out of the raging water.” (Psalm 18:16 GWT)
John Putnum hung on for dear life. His fingers clung desperately to a little crack in the rock while the rushing, raging waters angrily tried to pry him loose and wash him over the cliff into the depths below. He was losing his grip on the crevice while fear was tightening its grip on his throat. He couldn’t form the word, “Help!” He managed only a weary scream. However, his scream was all but drowned by the thunder of the waterfalls. Exhausted, he lost his grip. The waters rejoiced as they began carrying their sacrifice to the waiting altar at the bottom of falls. They did not rejoice long.
Just as John lost his grip, and his hope, a hand grabbed hold of the belt fastened around his waist. With a mighty heave, his hero pulled him out of the raging waters and to safety. He then put his own jacket around five year old John’s shivering body. The raging waters would not have their sacrifice today. Little John Putnum had been rescued from on high!
Okay. It wasn’t quite all that dramatic. The whole incident lasted maybe ninety seconds. John would’ve survived the four-foot drop from where he was into the three-foot deep pool below. But, in little John Putnam’s mind, I had rescued him from a certain death and a watery grave.
The Putnams, Downings, and Crosbys had all gathered at the Crosby home on this particular Thanksgiving Day. We had all moved to the Auburn, Alabama area a few years earlier and spent every other Thanksgiving together. While dinner was being prepared, we dads took all the kids to an outing at Chewacla State Park, just a few miles away. We had been there about an hour when John slipped away from his group momentarily to do a little exploring on his own.
Fortunately, my group was still at the waterfalls. My younger daughter heard John’s faint scream, tugged on my pant leg, and pointed toward John. He was red-faced and white-knuckled in white water. It took me inside of twenty-seconds to reach him and pull him out. At about the same time, his group had noticed him missing and had doubled back to get him. We all immediately got in the vans and went back to the Crosby’s house.
When we got there, John, still draped in my jacket, ran straight to his mom and declared, “Momma, Mr. Paul saved my life!” Then, in great and dramatic detail recounted his rescue.
John barely ate his Thanksgiving Dinner. It wasn’t because he wasn’t hungry. It was because he wouldn’t take his eyes off of me. I would take a sip of my tea and he would hurriedly fetch the carafe, come to my chair and ask, “Would you like some more tea, Mr. Paul?” After I’d take a couple bites of dressing, he’d run over to me, “More dressing, Mr. Paul?” He probably lost five pounds that day.
John thanked me a bazillion times that Thanksgiving. When it was time for us to leave, he wrapped his little arms around my neck and said, “I love you Mr. Paul. Thank you so much for saving my life. I will never, ever forget it!”
Lord, give us a bit of that John Putnam spirit toward You this Thanksgiving. Help us to remember that we were being swept away toward eternal death. But, You reached down from on high, and with a mighty arm, pulled us out of the raging waters. You have wrapped us in the warm coat of Christ’s righteousness. We love You, Lord. You have saved our lives. Help us to never, ever forget it!
© Paul R Downing