I vaguely remember that there was a sign, saying: “Dangerous Currents. No Lifeguard.” I grew up in the middle of the United States. At age twenty I had hardly ever seen an ocean and certainly knew very little about them, so the sign meant nothing to me. It was a beautiful sunny day, and there I was in California at the Pacific Ocean. All I could think about was diving into those waves.
Paddling around in the water, I reveled in this new experience. Then everything changed. I was caught in a rip tide and it was carrying me away from shore. I fought against it, but the current was too strong. Farther and farther it took me out into the sea, until the crashing surf was tossing me about like a rag doll.
I struggled and struggled to no avail. I was fighting for my life and the ocean was winning. Finally, unable to swim another stroke, I turned over onto my back and literally went “belly up.” I was convinced there was nothing I could do and no one who could save me.
Waves were crashing around me, but I felt completely calm. I had never considered what I would do when faced with death. In hindsight, I am surprised by my response. I had just started meditating recently, and I knew God was out there somewhere. I wasn’t sure, though, what role He might play in my life, and what my relationship was to Him.
Now, as I looked at the vast blue sky, the bright sun, and the ocean around me, I offered myself completely to God. No words. I wasn’t asking to be saved. I didn’t pray to die quickly. With all my heart, I just gave myself back to Him.
What happened next seemed the most natural thing in the world. In response to my self-offering, God gave me bliss. Self-offering equals bliss: It is a lesson I have never forgotten.
Basking in His bliss, it took me a few minutes to realize that I was now floating in calm water. I rested there until my strength returned. Then I dog-paddled in a channel of calm water all the way back to shore.