Being in over my head not unfamiliar waters

Published 1:19 pm Wednesday, February 17, 2021

By Jan Penton-Miller

Panolian Columnist

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As a child I loved the water until one eventful day changed my perspective.  The small community where we lived had one doctor. His office was above the store.

Our beloved doctor and friend invited our family to enjoy an afternoon of swimming at his pond. Doc Neely was a generous sort, and most of his patients had a standing invitation to come over and cool off on a hot day.

“Now children, don’t go out over your heads and stay together.  Oh, and no rough housing,” my mother directed on the ride over.

The sweat beaded on my freckled face as my brothers, sisters and I piled out of the family’s old sedan. The sun beat down, enticing us into the water.  We all raced to the water’s edge squealing with delight.

The other children bounded ahead, but I eased into the shallow water enjoying the feel of mud squishing between my toes.

A breeze whispered through the pines standing tall and proud nearby. I breathed in the earthy fragrance of the woodland as a shiver ran across my spine.   

At five years of age I had already learned to hold onto a moment.  Inching into the water bit by bit was like taking tiny bites of a candy bar to prolong the pleasure.

Soon the water crept up to my knees. The others yelling and splashing seemed far away as I continued on my solitary adventure. Thoughts of the warnings to stay together and in the shallows disappeared from my head.  Birds were chirping overhead calling out to one another.  watched their flight with interest as I slid lower into the water.

It was cooler the deeper I went, and I was enjoying myself immensely.  Before long the water covered my shoulders. I was aware that it was time to stop, but the depths cried out.  Just a little deeper.  It won’t hurt a thing.  My childish mind listened to the wrong voice.

The once pleasant water transformed in an instant to a murky mess threatening to close over my head.  That one last step plunged me into a deep hole.  “Help, help!” I managed to squeal before I disappeared from sight.

At first I writhed and twisted toward the light above. I could see it, but my struggle was in vain. A fire burned in my chest as I gulped the nasty water.  The realization came that my life was ending. There was no fear. I felt interested in what was happening. So this is what it’s like to die. I gave up the fight and noticed my hair floating slowly through the water as the light above dimmed.

Pictures of my life clipped through my mind like an old time motion picture reel.  I didn’t see the end of the show. My Daddy’s strong hands pulled me from the deep.

Sometimes, even now, I fail to listen to wisdom’s warning and get out over my head. My earthly Dad has been in heaven for a while now, but I have another who always answers my cry for help and leads me to solid ground once more.

Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV) Call to me and I will answer you, and I will show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Write to Jan Penton-Miller at