There was one lane separating us. She moved through the water cleanly, her technique neat and precise, as my friend and I slipped down into the slow lane for laps. I didn't pay any attention to her, other than to note her lane was filled. Down and back I went, finally stopping to catch my breath and reach for my flotation board. That's when I saw the woman next to me, frozen, standing straight, watching something in shock. I looked slightly beyond her to the man carefully flipping a woman over onto her back, and at the same time a lifeguard plunged in, simultaneously blowing his whistle.
A flurry of activity commenced, and everyone in the pool stood, watching. She was blue and still.
I was struck with a force of chill bumps and the sudden, intense urge to pray. Immediately, I began whispering prayers over this unknown woman. Praying over the lifeguards who were working to get her onto a board and out of the water. Praying as the fire trucks rolled up and men in navy uniforms came pouring in.
We sat on the bleachers, onlookers in another person's life story. Hushed bits and pieces of eyewitness stories, and variations from so many perspectives were whispered almost reverently. Scattered nervous laughter, serious eyes, and worried expressions wove together to create the fragile chain connecting us.
As the woman on the stretcher began to move her feet, a surge of thanksgiving flowed voluntarily from my heart and I began praying thanks over the lifeguards quick actions, the fire department's immediate response time, the wisdom of those trained in life saving maneuvers. But most of all, I thanked God, that for this emergency, there was no life claimed.
My fingers were chilled and my heart was heavy with questions. Who was she? What if they had gotten to her a second too late. What if the man swimming in her lane wasn't near enough to her to sense she was in trouble. And as I close this post with the scent of "what might have been" still clinging to my skin and hair, I want to ask you a question. What if it was you? Do you know without one doubt, that you would find yourself safe, in the arms of Jesus if your time was up?
I do. I want that for you too and if you can't shout a resounding and confident "yes" to my question, you might consider reading this for direction.
Life is a gift, but it does have an expiration date.