Seeing a shadow by the light of the moon changed his life. Was it mere coincidence or was it God’s special intervention?
BECAUSE HE WAS THE SWIMMING COACH in a large college for men, they were puzzled by his unusual behavior. Each Thursday night as he arrived at the large indoor swimming pool he would go straight to the edge, dip his big toe in the water, and then climb up the highest diving board. Of course, he made a wonderful dive and swam up and down the pool with the best of form. But why would such an expert swimmer resort to such a novice-like habit as sticking his big toe in the pool before swimming? One night they mustered the courage to ask why he went through this strange ceremony.
Smiling, he answered, “Really I suppose it is just a force of habit, but back of it all there is an unusual reason. One night I could not sleep, so I decided to slip into the swimming pool, assuming a bit of exercise would induce the much-needed rest. I did not turn on the pool lights, for I knew every inch of the place. The roof was made of glass and the moon shone through, throwing the shadow of my body onto the wall at the other end. My body with arms extended made a perfect sign of the cross as I stood on the diving board, I cannot explain why I did not dive at that moment; there was no premonition of any kind.
“I was a Christian, and as I stood looking at the shadow of the cross, I began to think of Christ hanging on the cross, its meaning and how it truly affected my life. Poised there on the diving board, I cannot say how long I stood nor why I did not dive. I came down from the board and walked along the pool’s edge to the steps leading to its depths; there I began to descend. Reaching the bottom, my feet touched the cold, smooth floor of the pool. It was empty!
“Earlier that evening, the caretaker had drained the pool dry, and I knew nothing about it! I realized then that had I dived, I would have dived to my death. I guess that may explain to you why I always put my toe into the water before diving.”
The coach was confident that God had intervened to spare his life, but even more, to awaken him to see a deeper reality of the Cross. For many years he had realized that Christ died as a substitute for him, but that night he was awakened to realize that he had died with Him [Gal. 2:20]. As he stood looking at that shadow on the wall he saw not only Christ on the cross, but he saw himself nailed there with Him. It was God’s very unique intervention that would forever change his life.
Those who know the personal testimony of four outstanding servants of the Lord will recognize a similar experience when each died to self and sin.
When questioned about his spiritual power, George Muller responded, “One day George Muller died.”
D.L. Moody explains how he was visiting in New York City when he “consciously died to his own ambitions.”
Charles Finney, the revivalist, whose ministry shook the New England states, told how he slipped away to a secluded spot in the forest where he “died to self.”
Christmas Evans wrote about his surrender to Christ, “I gave my soul and body to Jesus which was in a very real sense, ‘a death to self.'”
Perhaps these words of John Gregory Mantle summarize the experience best. “There is a great difference between realizing, ‘On that cross He was crucified for me,’ and ‘On that Cross I am crucified with Him.’ The first aspect brings us deliverance from sin’s condemnation, the second from sin’s power.”
The Divine Imperative
What happened to these four men and to the swimming coach should become a personal reality in each of us. From the moment of surrender forward, we must realize “we are as dead men on furlough.” Through the blood we have forgiveness, but through the work of the cross, sin should no longer have dominion over us [Rom. 6:6-14]. We have died to our selfish desires, pursuits and appetites in this co-death experience.
There is much more! Each one of us should enjoy the full value of all that Jesus Christ accomplished for us, not only in His death but also in His resurrection. We are not only dead with Him, but we are also alive with Him–“fully alive unto God” should be our new testimony [Rom. 6:11]. The well-known songwriter, D.W. Whittle, describes it thus in his famous hymn, “Moment by Moment”:
Dying with Jesus by death reckoned mine,
Living with Jesus a new life divine.
Looking to Jesus ’til glory doth shine —
Moment by moment, 0 Lord, I am Thine.
We pray: “Father, it is our deepest cry to You that we shall come into the full reality of our death and resurrection. “Make it so from this day onward, amen!
DeVern Fromke, Why God Intervenes (Noblesvlle, IN: Sure Foundation, 2008) 26-29. (used with permission) www.FromkeBooks.com.
Note: The death of the “old man” is past tense (Rom. 6:6), but, as Oswald Chambers put it, we should have a “white funeral” for our old identity and carnal independence [My Utmost, Jan. 15]. Then wholehearted discipleship calls us to deny ourselves (our flesh) and take up the Cross daily as we live by grace, walking in the Spirit. – ed.