Anita Estrada, from the Rock’s Chaplains Ministry, stepped into the water to swim laps at her gym’s pool like she had done so many times before. She placed her stuff on the concrete at the edge of her lane and pulled her hair back, giving her a moment to take in her surroundings like the water class taking place at the far end, and the elderly man swimming in the next lane over—a regular fixture at the pool.
When done, she began her swim expecting nothing more than an uneventful handful of laps; nothing out of the ordinary—just the kind of moment and situation God seems to love to do His work.
Anita was in the middle of a lap when she felt a bit of fatigue setting in and decided stop and take a moment to catch her breath. Swimming to the end of the pool, she leaned against the wall and noticed the elderly man next to her had done the same. In the briefest of glances she saw his face—and it caught her off-guard. As a swimmer, she had seen many, many swimmers stop to catch their breath after pushing themselves. But what she saw at that moment wasn’t regular exhaustion or a man who was temporarily gassed out. This was different. He was heavy with burden.
She looked again. His eyes, even at around 80 years old, told a sad story.
“Excuse me, Sir,” Anita said. “Are you okay?”
The man took a moment, then returned a small smile—an indication of his brief surprise that someone could detect, in the shortest of glances, the glacier of pain slowly pushing its way through his soul. “I’m 79 years old, young lady,” he said, downcast. “Life has gone by so quickly. I’m afraid that I’ll be dying soon and…I don’t know where I’ll end up.” And then he just looked at her.
If there was ever a moment where God seemed to be teeing up a situation for one of the faithful to take a swing, Anita knew this was it.
“I see,” Anita said. “Well…would you like to know for certain that your name is written in the book of life, sir?” she offered.
“Boy, would I,” the man said.
“Would you like to do that right now?”
“You mean, right here, in the pool?”
“Well…sure. Why not?”
“Why not, indeed,” the man said.
Anita stepped toward the man and placed her wet hand on his wet shoulder and bowed her head. She knew in her heart, by the divinely-designed moment that it was, he would too. And he did. In the next few moments, Anita led him through the sinner’s prayer, putting special emphasis on receiving forgiveness for a lifetime of sins. He didn’t skip a beat. He repeated every word and drank each one down.
“In Jesus’ name,” Anita prayed, “amen.”
When she looked again, the man’s eyes were filled with light and his expression was one of relief. A broad smile found its way across his face and he breathed deep.
It was the look of blessed certainty.