by Timothy W. Tron
It was late September in the highlands. We were camping on the banks of the Johns River. While the leaves had yet to fully change, there were the tale-tale signs of imminent transformation on the horizon. As my feet slid underneath the surface of the cold mountain water, a formidable repercussion burst through my soul. Deeper I waded in until it was a matter of now or never; an immediate submersion momentarily took my breath away. It was my evening bath in the John’s river, yet another first in my life.
As the due course of washing ensued, the greatly diminished bar of soap I was using slipped from my fingertips and into the brink below. In an instance, there was a fear that gripped my heart. “Oh no, now I won’t be able to get clean,” were the thoughts that raced in my head. “Does it float,” came the question? Before the unspoken whisper was even done, the tiny little bar popped back up. Quickly, my hand scooped it up and cradled it carefully. “No more losing you,” I mused at the careless soap. Looking down the course of the waterway to where that tiny sliver of could have traveled, a shimmering image caught my eye. The rapids below me sparkled in the setting sun. A thousand diamonds reflected the vast spectrum of light back towards me and a radiance illuminated the bend in the river about me. It was as if the Lord had suddenly appeared. The thought of that momentary fear of losing the bar of soap returned and how it made me think of what it might feel like to lose one’s Bible, or even worse, God. For me, in that instance of time, it would have meant that I would be unable to physically cleanse my body. But like the Word, it helps us to cleanse our soul. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, our sins were literally washed away. Like that grime from my flesh, it was purged clean and taken away with the never ending current. Suddenly, standing as I stood in an indescribable realm of illuminated river, a revelation began to form in my being.
By this time, my body had nearly lost feeling. My head fully lathered, I dipped beneath the surface once more. The frigid waters rushed around me and all sound ceased from the surface. There was nothing more than the sound of gurgling flow pulsating past my being. A faint heartbeat sounded in the distant, like a bodhran keeping time to a Celtic song, ancient tomes for which the voices had long since faded into obscurity. My mind flashed to that of the river Jordan and the Apostle John standing over Jesus, who at the moment was also beneath the surface. As Christ looked upward from beneath the cleansing waters of Baptism, he could see the heavens open and the Spirit of the Lord descending. At that moment, John lifted him up. The cold water fell away from his body, his face flush with the exertion of that same shock, now beaming as the multitude of God’s love imbued his being. John saw it appear above Christ’s head, and it slowly fluttered until it appeared to light upon the crown of his head, like a dove descending from heaven.
Likewise, as I rose from beneath the veil of frigid flow, the sky opened above me to a clearness that seemed to take away one’s breath. The feeling of a newness unlike before overwhelmed my soul. Though my body was immersed in the freezing mountain waters, my soul was enveloped in an indescribable comforting warmth.
Through that momentary elation, the question returned, “How sorrowful would it be to have known God, and then to lose Him?” Simply asking the question to myself made me appreciate what I had all the more. One who has never known the love of God cannot comprehend what it is to imagine losing him. Like that inanimate bar of soap, while it is easily replaced, how unlike it is to the spirit within us. Once we receive Christ into our lives, there is a newness of living. Like emerging from those frozen depths of the mountain river, we are torn free from those previous fleshly burdens. We are given the greatest gift of all; freedom from sin. We are washed clean by the proverbial, never-ending bar of soap; the blood Jesus shed for all mankind on the cross.
Still yet, the profound symbolism of losing that bar for but a second, and the feeling of that lost translated into miniscule slice of what it might be like to lose one’s faith. So too, we who believe, would find ourselves in a despair unrivaled with any known heretofore if we were to knowingly lose our faith – to have it torn asunder like a child from a mother’s bosom. There could be no greater loss of hope, freedom, and truth. Yet, throughout history, people have been tortured because of their faith, and many times told to escape the torture or death, that they must abjure their faith – to give it up. Many died for this faith. Untold numbers were tortured through some of the most unimaginable gruesome deaths. Yet, there were a few that gave in. Sadly, their torture would have been less to have died, for the remainder of their lives, they would be haunted in a life of anguish knowing that they had turned their backs on the one thing that gave them hope, gave them life eternal – their faith.
We are living in some of the most distressing times in our country. While we are facing a growing evil, there is and always will be hope. It is now that we, those who are called, must boldly wade into that torrent of bone-chilling water of life and reach out to those who drowning in the depths of despair and heartache. Like the bar of soap, they are tossed about, unable save themselves. Without a hand to reach out and lift it up, it would have certainly been taken away downstream. Likewise, without God, we too are lost. But we can be the lifeline through which the giver of eternal life can reach them. As the gospel hymn goes, “When my Savior reached down for me, I was lost and undone without God or His Son. When He reached down His hand for me.” 
You may not be able to immediately see those who need your help. But stay the course, and continue to walk in the light. In time, they will come to you, or their presence will be made known. It is then, that you can save them from falling beneath the rushing waters of this world’s darkness and lift them up. You were made for a time such as this. “The fields are white ready to harvest,” Jesus told his disciples. “One reapeth and another soweth, I sent yea to reap wherein yea bestowed no labor. Others labored and yea entered into their labors.”
There will always be a Comforter there by our side. Step into the water, and the Lord will take you the rest of the way.
Thanks be to God.
 John 4:35 KJV