An Icy Plunge

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 4
As his mother wrapped his plaid scarf around his neck, Sam dug his hands into his coat pockets to find his mittens.
Merle, his shaggy golden retriever, was all ready to go. He pranced around, slapping his big front paws against the floor as if to say, "Hurry up, Sam!"
The pair slipped out the door. The snow came up to Sam's boot tops. Merle ran and dove and twisted and turned in the deep snow like a happy puppy.
"Wait up, Merle!" Sam had to call out to his dog. "You go a lot faster than me with your four legs!"
They headed through their backyard and on through a clump of willow trees with their long, slender, hanging branches, and then on to the edge of a frozen lake.
Merle found a stick and brought it to his master's feet.
"You want to play fetch, Merle?" Sam said as he picked up the stick and hurled it onto the lake. It hit the ice and slid.
Merle's swift strides brought him to the spot where the stick landed almost before the stick hit. When he tried to stop to pick up the stick, his feet slid out from underneath him and his husky body slammed against the ice.
Sam heard a "CRACK," like the snap of a big whip, as a large patch of ice broke up underneath his dog. Merle was plunged into the icy water.
"Merle, Merle, don't drown, boy!" Sam shouted excitedly!
"Can somebody help us!" Sam yelled as loudly as he could. The nearest row of houses was so far away that Sam didn't think anyone heard him.
As Sam watched Merle struggle in the icy water, he couldn't hold back the sobs. He loved Merle, and his dog was in danger of freezing to death or drowning.
Before we go any further with the story, I want to tell you that God loves you! This is true because we read it in the Bible. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)).
God does love you, no matter who you are. Notice this verse doesn't read, "God so loved the good people of the world," nor does it read, "The worthy people of the world." If it did, no one could be sure God loved them. It reads, "God so loved the world," so we can be certain He loves each one of us.
We also learn from this verse that souls are in danger of perishing. If you haven't put your faith in God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save your soul, then it cannot be said that you "shall not perish," because if you die without the Savior, you will "perish." To perish is an awful thing. It means being separated from God for all eternity in that awful place called hell where there shall be much weeping and gnashing of teeth. God doesn't want anyone to perish, and to make a way of escape possible, He sent the Lord Jesus to die on the cross. Now, "whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Won't you believe in Him and then tell someone what you have done? Of every believer the Lord Jesus said, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand" (John 10:2828And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)). This will be true of you, too, if you will trust in the Lord Jesus.
We left Sam standing on the shore watching Merle struggling in the icy water. Not knowing if any help was coming, Sam bravely decided to go to the edge of the broken ice to try to pull Merle out by himself.
"Merle, I'm coming to get you out!" Sam tried to reassure his dog.
Merle swam in small circles in the patch of water. The hole in the ice was round and about five feet wide. Sam could see Merle's big, coffee-colored eyes looking at him as if he were asking for help.
With every step Sam could hear the ice shifting and cracking beneath him. He walked slowly and stepped carefully, pausing after every step and holding his breath to see if the ice were breaking. Wishing someone would come outside who could help him, Sam kept checking the houses on the other side of the lake, but the only signs of life were spirals of smoke coming from the chimneys. He wished he and Merle were back safe in their warm house.
Sam was almost to the edge of the broken ice. Scared that the ice was going to break again, he lay down and crawled on his belly the last few feet. He stretched one arm out over the murky cold water. Merle swam over to it. Sam dug his fingers into his dog's long, yellow hair at the scruff of his neck. Merle's skin was loose and easy to grab. His fur was soaked and heavy. Sam got a good grip and pulled...Merle got his two front paws onto the ice as Sam tugged. Merle had just scrambled out of the water onto the ice... "CRACK!" The ice broke away beneath both of them, and boy and dog were plunged into the icy water!
Sam yelled in fright. He swallowed a mouthful of water and choked. Water was filling his boots and making his feet feel like lead weights. His heavy winter jacket soaked up the water and felt so heavy. All this weight wanted to pull him down under the icy water. He didn't want to drown, so he fought with all his strength to stay afloat. It was harder than anything he had ever had to do before. He was getting numb in the cold water and his arms and legs were getting tired. They didn't want to move; they wanted to stop and give up.
Sam felt a nudge at his back. It was Merle pushing him with his nose. Sam turned around in the water and reached his arm around his big dog's neck. The dog was strong enough to keep them both afloat for a while.
Ten minutes passed; they seemed like hours.
Suddenly a fire engine pulled up to the edge of the lake. A neighbor had called the fire department when he heard Sam's call for help.
The crew worked quickly. The firemen pulled a long ladder off the side of their bright red engine. They opened it up to its full length and laid it down on the ice. One of them walked carefully on the ladder rungs across the ice to the open water where the two were struggling. He pulled Sam out. His face had turned blue from the cold water. He couldn't move his fingers.
Through lips that would hardly move he kept saying, "Get my dog out, get my dog out," as the fireman carried him to the fire engine and rushed him to the hospital.
Later at the hospital Sam's father was able to reassure him that Merle was safe at home, drying out on a warm rug by the heater.
It had been a close call, but now both Sam and Merle were safe. Won't you accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior that you might be safe, too? "The Lord is... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:99The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)).