~A Swamp Testimony…Literally~ By Rheannon

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~A Swamp Testimony…Literally~ By Rheannon

I used to baby sit a lot when I was in my teenage years. I loved to hang out with kids and have fun with them. Telling stories was my absolute favorite thing to do. Sometimes I would volunteer in the children’s ministry at a young age, and tell stories to the little ones in the toddler room. They would all sit around me in a semi-circle, completely drawn in by my tall tales of heroism and adventure. I loved the looks on their little faces. So perfect. I have such a story for you…
One day, sunny and hot, in the middle of the Montana summer, I was watching two boys from my church. We went to the park together, and planned on a fun filled afternoon. My brother was scheduled to pick us all up in a couple hours.
Ahh the park. The place of ducks and water and children on swing sets and piles of hidden dog pooh just waiting for a little bare foot…such grand adventure!
Where I live, there are two main parks- Woodland Park, and Lawrence Park. Both are in downtown Kalispell, located near schools and recreational activities. Lawrence park, however, has a river that runs along side it…this river, when swollen, creates a wild and untamed bog hidden behind the line of trees which keeps most park goers at bay.
Not us.
There was a little walking trail right behind that row of trees, a safe distance from the river, and well carved out by lots of adventurous feet over the years. It was not a “no go” zone…but what lay beyond it certainly was.
The oldest of the two boys, 9, was walking in front of me just slightly. It couldn’t have been more than 15 feet…I learned 15 feet is all it takes! With zero warning, he took a sharp left turn, through the tall grass and trees and out of my sight. “COME BACK!!” …yeah right…
I grabbed his 5 year old brother’s hand and hauled after the boy. I expected him to be right there just beyond the tall grass. Well, he wasn’t. It took me a few minutes to find him. Talk about heart pounding, “Oh. My. Gosh. I lost someone’s son” terror.
After chiding him for disobeying me like that, I took a deep breath of air, released it and looked around. We were in a bog. Wet and stinky. Worse than that…I didn’t know what direction I had come into this horrible jungle from, and neither did the 9 year old.
LOST.
What a sickening feeling. There’s nothing like knowing you can’t find your way back to where you came from. The realization began to sink into my mind…I’m lost…in the heat, with no water…with a 5 year old and a 9 year old…Oh dear Jesus, help me!
I have no way of knowing how long we trudged around that nasty hidden world back there. It felt like ages. I had never seen a place like this before. The growth was so thick and tall that I could not see through it. The children began to complain of heat and thirst as we crossed over sinking marshy grass and logs again and again.

There were little streams to cross as well…I didn’t want the kids to get miserably wet shoes, so I stepped down into the narrow water stream. It was only about three feet across, and I expected to sink a mere foot into in. Wrong again. That three foot stream had water clear up to my waist. It was dark brown and disgusting. I lifted each child by the underarms and set them on the other side of this “mere trifle” of a stream.
In and out of water I went, helping the boys across. It must have been the same little stream winding and knotting its self all up which we crossed again and again. There were leeches…none found me, thank God, but we saw them clear as day. I cringed.
The most terrifying point of our “excursion” came as our energy had begun to fade. A log bridge…
There was no other way to get across, and we could see semi-dry ground on the other side, though no sign of an end to the bog. The water beneath the log was dark and ugly and smelly. More than that, it was probably deep, and the kids could fall in easily trying to cross the ten or fifteen foot log to the other side. I froze.

“What am I supposed to do?” I thought.
The boys and I had been consistently calling for help, to no avail. No one answered. Both kids were beginning to give in to panic, thirst and heat.
“We’re gonna die!” The 5 year old said.
“No we will not die,” I replied. I said the only thing I could think of next. “Lets pray and give one more loud shout for help, ok?” They agreed, and we all held hands and asked God to deliver us and send someone to help us or hear our cry. Then I counted to three, and the children and I gave a last shout for help.
“HEEEEEEELP!!!! Help us!!! Can anyone hear us?! HEEEEELP!!!” The boys cried out and I cried out all the more.
Then…
“Hello?!”
“Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed, “Listen! Listen! Yes!! Can you hear us?!”
“I hear you!”
“We are lost back here! How do we get out?!”
Then I saw him…He was wearing a long sleeved red plaid shirt, blue jeans and a pair of glasses. “The way out is this way,” he said.
Without hesitation, the 9 year old mounted the log bridge and carefully made his way across to the other side with his younger brother and I behind him. I prayed to God for safety across this thing. It was three feet down to the water, and if the 5 year old fell in…God have mercy…
As the older boy reached the other side, he ran to where the man had been. I followed close behind him with the younger. There, just a few feet beyond the safe side of the log was the most beautiful thing I had seen in probably two hours. A TRAIL!
We hurried out of the marsh behind the trees and stepped out onto fresh dry grass. There in font of us was the pavilion, with totally clueless people eating peanut butter jelly sandwiches. I looked everywhere for the man who had helped us. A man who was wearing a long sleeve plaid shirt on a crazy hot summer day…I couldn’t find him.
The 9 year old was only moments behind the man who had told us, “The way out is this way.” He never saw him either…
I am convinced that God sent an angel to show us the way to safety and civilization. The man was nowhere, and we were moments behind him. He would have been there…on the other side of the bog, to ask us if we were ok and see if we needed any help- if he were a person. Any normal person would. But he was nowhere to be found.
I was so overcome with thankfulness and joy that I all but cried out, “Boys! God answered our prayer and sent an angel to rescue us!” The children were so excited and so happy to be free of the strange wilds that lie behind us.
My brother found us a few minutes later. He was hopping mad that I had missed my pick-up time, as he had been looking everywhere for us. I was wet, covered in bog, stinky, scratched and bruised. I told the boys’ mother what had happened, and though she was not pleased, she was thankful we were all safe.
WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!!!! I mean seriously! This was one of the most epic God moments of my life. I had been rescued by an angel. Myself and two precious children. (One of whom I was furious at for running away! Lol.)

Hebrews 13:1 and 2 says, “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

I thank God that he rescued us that day. That He sent an angel who shared the path with us, at the cry of two children and a teenager. I’m still blown away by it. God does do powerful things. There are angels. Thank God.
~Rheannon

 

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