After graduating from BYU I was working and living in Salt Lake City, but still had a lot of friends in Provo. One weekend my friend Angela invited me down to float the Provo river with her and some friends. I brought my boyfriend and his niece down with me from Salt Lake and since it was a very hot day, we were all thrilled to have an activity that could cool us off. The Provo river was shallow that day. At any given time I could stand up next to my innertube to readjust my position. Because of that, I didn’t wear a life jacket. We did have my boyfriend’s (now husband’s) niece wear a life jacket however because she was only eight.
We had a great time splashing and floating our way down the Provo river until we came to a bridge. At the bridge, the river became much deeper and there were a lot of logs and debris built up upon the pillars of the bridge, but I saw a clear path to the right. I steered my tube toward the clearing too late and both my niece and I ended up being caught against the logs and branches. Her life jacket kept her up but I was sucked down and pinned. It was dark and I could feel the river pressing my skin into the sharp branches.
A voice came into my mind. “Swim down. Swim down and look for the light.” Extreme calm poured over my body and I pushed off of the branches and swam down looking for a hole in the dam. I could see through the murkiness a green light near the river bottom and I headed for it. At the bottom, there was a huge area for me to swim through, but the current was strong enough that it easily pushed me through and I popped up in a calm area on the other side of the debris. When I surfaced I was greeted by the terrified face of my boyfriend who was running back to get us on the side of the river. He yelled, “You were under water for SO long! Are you OK?” I felt more than OK, I felt saved. He hurried past me to help his niece who had climbed up over the branches and was crying.
I have since learned how dangerous getting pinned in a “strainer” can be. The river water was able to pass through the branches, but I could not, and the sucking pressure from the water may have kept me from re-emerging. In all the rafting trips I’ve taken since, I’ve learned that the best possible way to survive a strainer is to climb up and over. I’m not sure I could have gone up, because of the great downward sucking power I felt. By the power of the Holy Ghost, I was given the message to “swim down” and it saved my life.
When I think back to this experience, I can physically remember the calm experienced by my body. The calm felt a lot like joy. When I resurfaced I felt as though I had had a powerful spiritual experience. There is a scripture about the Holy Ghost found in 2 Nephi 32:5 that I often ponder on as I look back on this experience,
If ye enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
Most of the time, the Holy Ghost brings scriptures into my mind that focus on the teachings of Jesus Christ and how they relate to my everyday life. I often feel tears springing to my eyes when I feel the Holy Ghost testify to me that Jesus is the Christ or that I a beloved daughter of my Heavenly Father. But in this case, the Holy Ghost gave me specific direction that that fit my situation. When I listen for the calm promptings of the Holy Ghost, He aids me by giving both temporal and spiritual direction.
Lately, I’ve had a lot of reminders to repent (quickly!) after using too harsh of tone with a child, to “Remember to pay your state taxes too!”, to turn off a heating pad that was left on in the middle of the night, and to tell my husband how much I appreciate him. I have learned to listen to this voice as He has always led me toward the light just as it did that day as I gratefully swam toward the murky green light at the bottom of the Provo river.
To read more about what Mormons believe about the Holy Ghost, please read the following links.
The Gift Of The Holy Ghost – A Sure Compass by James E. Faust
Seeking to know God, Our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ by Robert D. Hales
I really loved this story and appreciate you reminding us all of this powerful member of the Godhead who can sustain us throughout our lives if we BUT LISTEN to Him and His influence…Thanks for sharing.
What a powerful story. I can’t imagine being sucked down in the river ~ I’m so glad you heard that voice, and most of all, that you listened to it.
I’m so glad you were worthy to have that prompting and so glad you listened so that we could all have you here now!
As I recently told my son at his baptism, the Holy Ghost is the best friend because he can always be with you, he can keep you safe, and he’ll never lie to you.
This is beautiful.
Thanks everyone! When I told my husband that I wrote about this experience, he was reminded how scared he was and let out a big sigh. Gratitude washed over us again as we reviewed the events of that day.
This experience takes my breath away. Thank you for this powerful post.