Raging Waters Rescue

This can’t be happening I thought

She sat above the small cliff on a bold mossy rock weeping over the angry flooded river scene below. Drenched and weak from her own capsized canoe experience she knew the big man in a back eddy current was floating toward the edge and would soon be taken by the rushing white water into a mass of trees hanging on a house sized boulder. She knew she couldn’t help.

No No No, this is not happening!

He was going to die. He knew it as he couldn’t swim, his life jacket still strapped to the canoe seat and the big pack he was hanging on to was sinking. “Tell mom I love her” he said to his two sons who were hanging on to bent over saplings in the mad waters barely able to hang on as they only partially body surfed the churning foamy water. She cried louder as one of our guys picked up a canoe to portage to the lake above us laughed, and muttered “The poor sucker,” and walked away.

Normally this was a gentle, but fast, knee deep gurgling stream winding it’s way between lakes on the Canadian Minnesota border waters. Wilderness travelers, the early voyagers and various tribes had used this route for hundreds of years. Now, the river was carving a new path straight through the woods after seven inches of rain the night before.

Someone Please Save him!

I and a couple of strong teenagers had just finished rescuing a couple of canoes, some packs and paddles from our own group getting across the river in a deeper pool before the rapids. Our plan had been to get beside the waterfall and paddle at an angle with the water flow from a back eddy on one side and hopefully catch a back eddy on the other side unscathed. The fast water was really fast and at last second two of our canoes tipped as they entered the back eddy.

Everyone wore their life jacket in our group and all we did was get really wet. We were safe. Our gear and paddles were safe. Then came a big loud mouthed man and his two college aged sons. I had urged them to put on their life jackets and directed them to the back eddy to run with the current. They refused and tried to cut straight across the river current. Their canoe was instantly rolled. The boys swam across and ended up down stream dangling in the water while pleading for dad to try. Dad grabbed a floating pack, panicked completely and began yelling for help with “I can’t swim” with mutterings of “help me Jesus” messages and then began to accept his fate.

“Let’s rescue him” I said to the strapping teen next to me. “you’re nuts” he replied. “You are going to be an Army Ranger” I said. “Let’s do it” he said. She cried “No” and wept all the more.

We cinched the life jackets and pushed into the current and heavy rolling waves. Adrenalin shot through us and I feared breaking our canoe paddles as we paddled hard to the edge of the waves on the other side, dangerously close to the down-sloped rapids edge. Approaching the dad I saw he did not recognize help had come. He had that “eyes glazed over” look. When I spoke to him to grab our canoe but not to tip us, I saw him coil as if to spring at us. I raise my paddle to put him out as I saw the danger and he raised a hand to protect himself and said “I’m Ok, just help me”.

The next big danger was to drag a huge man to shore with just two paddles against the progressively stronger current before going over the edge. I saw we were not going to make it and urged the man to drop his pack as we were not making headway to shore. He wouldn’t let go. To this day I’m surprised that we made it within 15 feet of shore before going over the edge. In the last second another group of travelers came through, formed a human chain out and extended a long canoe paddle for the next Army Ranger to grab.

“Saved” is a good word. “Saved” is an unbelievable feeling being pulled from the foamy waters of death. Now she was sitting on the rock bawling. Yes, “Saved” is beyond description, just ask her. She knows. Jesus knows.

Two weeks later they say I kept a whole building of youth directors awake at three in the morning as I barked out orders and rescued drowning people in a raging river from atop my sleeping bag.

The big man that two sons called dad was never thankful or acknowledge he needed help in the waters of certain death. “Come on dad, at least say thank you” urged one of the sons after the family was reunited. “I was ok, I had it under control” was all he said. She, ranger and I debriefed with the group later, for the next six days in the campsite and are still affected to this day.

This morning I sat in an easy chair with a cup of coffee and was reading some Psalms from the bible and I read Psalm 27 starting in the middle of vs10 and 11, “Do not leave me or abandon me God of my salvation. Even if my father and mother abandon me. The Lord cares for me”. I’m immediately brought back to the raging river again. Kids trapped in a different disaster are praying these prayers right in front of us while some laugh, pick up their canoes, mutter “the poor suckers” and walk away.

Now, I am the one on the riverbank of life crying. I’m weeping at pictures of life in this world. People die by people in a myriad of ways. I know how helpless I am from my rock. So many are drifting toward the edge while we all watch and are told “It’s OK, everything is under control”

So, who is in position to save some kids, the homeless? the war refugees? Honestly I have no idea what it will take or where to start. I have no solutions but I’m willing to bet someone out there does! I’m just here on the riverbank crying and someday hoping for joyful tears. Jesus please send someone, you know all about rescues!


Some debriefing notes: True story. Picture above was a different group with a different adventure. I’ve both rescued and lost people in my nightmares over the years. I spent a few minutes lecturing our rescued dad in an adrenaline driven raging mad state for putting our group in that position. The kids told me I said other things as well that Jesus might not have mentioned. I cannot help but think how precious being rescued is for one person and unrecognizable by another. It makes me beyond sad to think that Jesus Christ rescued us all from the death penalty of sin before a Holy God and He died for us. Some will believe and follow Jesus into an eternal life in heaven. Many are like the dad. How sad for eternity. I pray for the illegal immigrant kids abandoned by everyone. Breaks my heart the shape this world is in. We all need Jesus, He has solutions. I wish it was as easy as mine and rangers rescue.

Published by Gary Fultz

Outdoors Man, Hunter, Fisherman, Guide, Writer / Author, Photographer, Public Speaker, Musician, Song Writer, Story Teller, Follower Of Jesus. Love God and family and total strangers

45 thoughts on “Raging Waters Rescue

  1. I think that it comes down to this word which God has given us:
    2 Corinthians 4:7-1
    But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
    “We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair;
    we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed,
    always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body.
    For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body.”
    Bless you brother.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. If this doesn’t trigger a flash back nightmare in me tonight I’ll be thankful. I will have to wait to leave a properly appreciative comment later, Gary. Your writing was that good.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. “In the last second another group of travelers came through, formed a human chain out and extended a long canoe paddle for the next Army Ranger to grab. “Saved” is a good word.”
    There it is. This is the moment of beauty we wait for. I was just reading in Acts 7, Stephen’s stoning and his last words, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” Echoing Jesus’s own. Somehow we get to that cliff and lift our eyes to Christ standing there with all the power of the galaxies in those nail pierced hands of His. Your words are filled with such a full spectrum of human emotion—inner rage to empathy—I feel oddly, not alone and comforted by the truths revealed, the questions and yes, the beauty. Thank you for this.
    P.S. I agree with G.W. I had to wait to leave an appreciative comment. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks so much deb. I still feel, after all these years that “full spectrum of human emotion” as you put it so eloquently. I do have an implicit trust in God that only He, can make something good of all life’s wrecks mankind creates. thanks for the totally worth it “wait’ on commenting. your comment is very insightful and cherished

      Liked by 4 people

  4. It seems in life there is always a cliff, unseen dangers that suddenly appear before our eyes.( It is hard to imagine that someone would not be grateful for the help you gave a drowning man.) It is very difficult in life when we feel powerless to help, unable to rescue another in need. In these moments, we trust in the power of prayer, knowing there is One who hears our every word. I do know this: God is good. He is always good. And, as scripture promises, His mercy is great and endures forever. In life, we do our very best, as you did out on the river. You risked your own life to help someone. We can only do the best we can; sometimes, prayer is the answer. We offer up our prayers, and God finds the way through the wilderness.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “I know how helpless I am from my rock.” Depends on if it is your “rock,” our our Rock! 😉
    So we can pray and trust our Rock to deliver, knowing like Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah that if He does not deliver, He has other plans, but we will still serve Him.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This post made me cry. I hear the desperate cries of those needing saved~from raging waters and life, in general. And the kids. 😭 my heart aches and I’m so thankful for the living waters supplied by Jesus. Thank you, Gary, for being you. God bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What an incredible (and frightening!) story!!! The idea of saving hits me in so many ways. And it really applies well to the current situation at our borders. I imagine how Jesus must feel in knowing that He can’t save them all (as in people in general). Let me rephrase that…He CAN save them all. But so many are stubborn and pig-headed, much like the dad in your story. They try to convince themselves and everyone around, that they have it all together. Yet in reality, they’re nearer to death than they realize.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true Stephanie. The illustrations and analogies to the story that happened are so many. The different individual reactions are so true to how everyday people react to both the physical and spiritual happenings all around us. You are quick to see this but many are not or don’t want to go there.


  8. Gary,
    Your testimony here (for it is more than a story) is the message of salvation beautifully explained. For they know that we are Christians by our love. What is more important that saving life. Really well written. All the comments already say beautifully, what I had planned to say. May peace rise up to greet you every day. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You Suzette
      That means a lot coming from you, I am glad a testimony came through. I suspect God allows us stories (or thrusts us into them) and nudges us into learning how to tell them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree with your point – “thrusts us into them.” Looking back I would hardly have “volunteered” for some of the challenges that eventually, became testimonies. God is able to keep us through all things. Blessings, to you Gary.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow what a story to be told…….and you are very brave and your courage obviously comes from the LORD! Let’s all be brave together if we can. We are able to be that with one another and for one another. JESUS died on the Cross for our sins and may we be willing to put our lives in harm’s way for one another. Life is so very precious! May you also have more peaceful nights than not! Blessings today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Maxine, In truth, bravery belongs to the Lord either from making us that way or removing fear in the moment. We truly need that to share the gospel with no fear in all situations. That being said, God uses this weak vessel in spite of himself often.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Saved. A word that means so much more than the sum of its five letters. Thank you for sharing this story and the encouragement to search deeper than our own human hearts and minds, and seek to accept what Jesus offers, and the immense price He paid for us.

    I’ve struggled with depression for the better part of the last fifteen years, managing much better over the past three, with wonderful people around me, thank the Lord. I have been in that place where I couldn’t see the light to make the decision to accept God’s freely given love. And I know it sucks. The darkness is unbelievable. So I hope and pray for more stories of hope and action, like yours here, showing just how unfathomably good He is.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I thank you Hamish for sharing where you struggle and find hope. I have had an off and on battle with depression since I was very young as well and probably why I am an adrenalin junky on the side (yes, long twisting thread in life’s story). My sun by day and north star by night is and has been my hope in Christ and his presence (only felt deeply sometimes but enough). The key for me is because Christ beat death and will be forever alive it means he is a real live “Living” hope. Living forever as I will be. Because he lives I live. Pills haven’t worked for me I have bad reactions mentally and physically. I have found “an adventure a day (if I can summon the energy) keeps depression at bay…somewhat.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Kudos to you for having come through all those trials with a faith as strong as you have. Prayer, and trust in the Lord as the rock that will guide us through, always. I pray you will continue to walk that path with Christ, and provide stories of hope like this one.

        Go well into your week! 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you, Gary, for sharing this life narrative in the full range of emotions and truth. The comments testify, “Well done!” But you have a still greater joy ahead when your Heavenly Father proclaims, “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23, NLT)

    May the thieving enemy be restrained from snatching your rest through flashbacks. I pray God provides abundant peace, especially during sleep. Shalom dear, brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Excellent story, Gary!! And what a superb picture of a someone who refuses to reach up to be pulled from the miry clay!! I can see how that experience would cause many stirring nights of dreams!

    On another side, different angle, I wonder whatever happened to the dad? Maybe more specific, I wonder what his relationship is like with his sons today. By being saved, then showing even a little humility and gratitude, he could have influenced his sons, particularly if he went back and told them he was wrong and made a mistake. I suspect, but hopefully I’m wrong, the relationship with their dad today is weak and that the dad lived a bitter, prideful life to the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jeff. I have wondered now and then whatever happened to dad and sons even on the rest of their trip as they had another 9 days to go. The rescue was on day one for them. Sadly I only saw them in extreme circumstance which tends to strip away any fake family dynamics. On the fathers part, he seemed to want to collect his pride and dignity and wear it again for the kids.. You may well be correct on how dad lived out his life.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou Wynne. I always wanted some of the intense stories in real life to be felt by hearers or readers of what happened. In feeling it they may relate and maybe even learn something about themselves or what danger can happen if someone isn’t paying attention.

      Liked by 1 person

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