Here is another installment from Nathan Wagner, my fellow instructor and coach at Westbury Christian School, and soon-to-be groom!
I spent a semester studying abroad in Greece while I was in college at Harding University. We lived in an old hotel in the weekend retreat town of Porto Rafti, a coastal town outside of Athens. Our hotel had a pool, but we never used it since we could walk to the beach in fifteen minutes. Every afternoon for an entire semester I went to the beach with my friends after we finished classes for the day. Obviously, for an Indiana-raised, Arkansas-educated boy this was a treat. Porto Rafti surrounds a small inlet of the Aegean Sea. Between the town and the vast expanse of water stands an island with an old Greek statue on top. At one point, this statue probably guarded the harbor and bid good fortune to travelers. Our directors told us that each year a small group of students would swim out to the island for a sense of accomplishment or adventure. As long as no one got stuck out there, they didn’t care who went.
Perhaps it was my unfamiliarity with such large bodies of water or my desire to impress the opposite gender that led to my swimming faux-pas. On a rare day off of classes, a small group was going to swim to the island. There were multiple beautiful young ladies going on the adventure, so I was going on the adventure. Getting there wasn’t too difficult. The swim was 2/3 of a mile there, and we expected 2/3 of a mile back. Swimming over the chasms of the sea made me nervous, but I hid my fear of being swept away by the current. We explored the island, sang songs, took pictures, and lounged for a few hours. Then we decided to swim back. As we reached the water, a bright light flashed through the sky. Apparently, unbeknownst to us, a storm had blown in from the sea, and lightning was flashing across the sky. I don’t know much about electricity, but I felt pretty sure that swimming in a lightning storm was a bad idea. Our traveling band of adventurers had no idea what to do. (A group of students from Harding in the past had been brought back to shore by the Coast Guard years ago. That was the one caveat to our adventure—don’t get stuck.) We were stuck. By the grace of God, a small boat came by with a very confused Greek couple. They thought we were shipwrecked, and we fulfilled our reputation as foolish Americans. They happily took us back to the mainland and we thanked them with the best of our limited Greek.
I learned to very important lessons on my island adventure: 1) always check the weather, and 2) the Lord will provide. Whether deep-sea swimming or driving in Houston traffic, I am constantly reminded that God watches out for me. That knowledge brings peace and comfort in times of frustration and turmoil, and it is something I hope all can experience.
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