One Saturday in August 2002, my partner Noel and I, and two friends went to the beach. One friend Ian, was a deacon at my church and the other was Louis, a seminarian, who was interning at the church.
We got some sandwiches, had lunch and just started relaxing on the beach. I was napping on the blanket while the other three went playing in the ocean.
After awhile Noel came back up to tell me that he lost his glasses in the sea. A wave came behind him and knocked his glasses off his face. He had been searching with Ian and Louis for about 15 minutes already. Louis had a pair of goggles and they had taken turns using them, but nothing.
I asked them where he was when he lost them. They pointed to a general spot on the right.
I swam out and realized it was impossible. Even though the ocean water was clear today, with the lapping waves moving me around and the sand kicking up under the water, I couldn’t see anything. I went back and asked to borrow Louis’ goggles.
It was like looking for a needle in the haystack.
When I stuck my head underwater to look through the goggles, I realized I COULDN'T see everything around me, the goggles only allowed me to see what was right in front of me, like tunnel vision, and even then, I could only hold my breath for maybe 15 seconds.
I felt bad for Noel because he could only see a few feet in front of him and we had JUST arrived at the beach. The ride back to the city was about 3 hours. It basically meant Noel would have to sit there the entire time doing nothing.
Noel is a social worker during the week and at that time worked as a chaplain for a nursing home on the side. This day was one of the few days he had off to relax.
Standing waist deep with the goggles, I said a prayer, “Lord, help me to find Noel’s glasses. He’s been working so hard for You and it’s a shame he can only just sit there for the whole day til we get back home.”
So with the prayer said, I dove into the water several times for about 10 minutes. All I could do was look straight down with the limited view from the goggles, moving to different spots each time, as I had no idea if I was even searching in the right area.
Suddenly, right there in front of my eyes were the glasses. I could barely see them as the water was cloudy from the sand and the frames were wire thin. I could see the waves coming through the sand and was worried that a wave would push me or the glasses out of my field of vision. I knew I had to act quick because if I went up for air, I would probably lose sight of them.
I remember thinking, “If I can only reach them…”
I stretched my hand towards the glasses and barely touched them and after a bit more stretching, was able to grab them. I couldn’t believe that I got them in my hands. It seemed like forever.
I walked to the three of them now sitting on the blanket. And I could tell, they were going to say, “No luck, huh?”
And I said to them, “Do you believe in prayer?” And I handed Noel the glasses and they were all astonished. I told them, that when I went out there, I said a prayer, and Louis the seminarian said, “I said a prayer first!”, which was funny.
We spent the rest of the day in the sun and we all got sunburned.
On the way home, Noel and I picked up some Chinese food for dinner and arrived back to our apartment around 8:30 pm. On the phone machine was an urgent message from the nursing home requesting that Noel visit a patient who was dying.
So after a long day at the beach, feeling like a lobster, Noel's day was not over yet.
He cleaned up and we stopped for a minute to have dinner so he would have the energy to continue on. We also said a word of prayer for him and the man in the hospital. He went up to Harlem where the hospital was and ministered to this patient as a chaplain from 10pm til 12 midnight.
That patient died the following morning.
I believe God blessed Noel that afternoon because he would be needed that evening to minister to this patient who was coming home to the Lord.