In February 2004, I participated in a trip planned by the school I was attending at that time. We went to Pointe Indienne for the day, an area that borders the Atlantic Ocean, not far from the city of Pointe-Noire, the economic center of our country.
That day, when I was about to leave, my father gave me a selection of passages from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. I was quite drawn to the following passage from Psalms, so that I read it a few times: “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore” (121:8). But I also told myself that my father was exaggerating a little by giving me all these passages about protection.
Then the long-awaited moment to go swim in the ocean arrived. Full of wonder, seeing the ocean extending to the infinite, I swam to and fro. I then started off in the direction of the horizon with as much pleasure as an Olympic champion would have. I swam for a long time. However, when I stopped and lifted up my head to admire my performance as a swimmer, I realized, way too late, that I was alone and surrounded by an immensity of water. The tide had a strength that felt overwhelming. I did not think I could swim back. Fear and despair filled my thought, and I panicked. I said under my breath, “My father did try to tell me, but I played the big boy act!”
At that moment, I remembered that at my Christian Science Sunday School we had learned to affirm our dominion over all adverse circumstances, as children of God.
Psalm 23 gave me the decisive inspiration to face and overcome this situation. The following verse reinvigorated my thoughts and hopes: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (verse 4). When I realized this truth about the divine all-presence and permanent protection, I started to swim slowly, but progressively, toward the beach.
I understood that God was in control, both of my progression and of the rhythm of the ocean. I swam with more and more assurance and strength, realizing that God is more immense and more powerful than the ocean. Finally, with a little effort, I was ashore.
I thanked God with all my heart that I had come back safe and sound. A week later, I shared this testimony at church. At the end of the service, everyone was happy because I had experienced God’s protection, and also because I had put into practice what I had learned in Sunday School.