Rachel's Raft Excerpt
“Anything new today?” I asked hoping to hear that he’d gotten a response about the ship.
Michael and I had just finished putting the kids to bed and getting into our own pajamas. We had Internet news, so we’d watch the program each night, in peace and quiet, after getting the children tucked in. I was tired from still getting up with the baby every night, so I put a pillow on the armrest of the couch and lay down. Michael grabbed a pillow too and tossed it on the floor.
“Good evening, America. Today is September 17, and this is the Nightly News.”
The music played and the cameras turned to the news anchor.
“Will you throw me a blanket?” he asked.
I grabbed the cream-colored throw from the back of the couch and tossed it his way.
Our evening ritual—news, then re-runs of The Office.
In between the shows, we’d pop popcorn, grab a drink and relax. We’d pause the show, talk about the news, the day, the kids or whatever was on the schedule for the following day. It was one of my favorite times of the day, honestly. Time with just Michael and me, no interruptions. Just us. It was a relief to laugh at the characters in the evolving office politics and their love stories—a temporary escape from reality.
I looked at Michael lying on the floor. He looked so tired. He was spent.
“He‘s such a good man,” I thought to myself as my heart ached with sorrow for him. It ached for the downward spiral that had brought him so low that I wanted to lower down a rope to help, only I was there with him too. The only small bandage, wrapped around my heart on this night, was in the form of a thirty-minute situation comedy on the screen on my mantle.
“Tonight we are following a story that has been developing over eighteen months. We turn now to our correspondent, Josh Elliot.”
He began, “The stunning feat of engineering overnight. You see the Costa Concordia. The cruise ship that capsized. Affixed to a reef there. Lifted from its watery grave and giving us a new view of the immense damage."
My ears perked up.
“What did he just say? Did he just say what I think he did?”
His words filled the room. His report echoed off the walls.
I squinted to get a closer look. My eyes fixated on the TV.
The Costa Concordia. Submerged. Tilted over in the water. Wrecked. Submerged for twenty months, now being lifted out of the water. Today. This day. This day—of all days.
It was being lifted out of the water in slow motion.
“Oh, God. Oh, my God.”
I seemed to also be in slow motion, as I lifted myself up off the armrest and into an upright position.
“Oh, God, is this happening? Is that ship being resurrected?”
The words rang in my ears.
My mother had always described baptism as a watery grave. Death to your old self. Alive, once more, in Christ.
“A watery grave, Rachel.” My mind flashed back to a time when my mom was telling me how she described baptism to a young lady she had led to the Lord.
“Oh, Lord.” I felt like I had been submerged. For years.
Then the reporter continued, “Lama Hasan is there to show how engineers did it all.”
“Good morning, Josh,” she said. “It took nineteen long hours, seven hours longer than expected, because they needed to use more pulling force, but they were finally able to pull off this amazing feat. All of it was captured on camera in a stunning time-lapse video. After a long day of pulling and rotating the vessel, maneuvering it so it slowly inches its way up and out of the water, the engineers were able to lift the vessel out of the Mediterranean waters. Celebrations rang out as the most complicated salvage operation in maritime history is now 80% complete. Everyone was very pleased, but it's not over yet. You can see the side of the ship covered in slime and scum, where it's been under water for the last twenty months and crushed like a building in an earthquake. Pulling this ship more than twice the size of the Titanic was an epic effort.”
And as I was now sitting upright on the couch, my eyes not moving one bit. My whole body was like a statue. The words fell on my ears with a THUD.
Then, so clearly, the Lord said this to me, “Just like this ship is being pulled up out of the water, so I am going to pull you up out of the water.”
“Oh, Lord. Michael, can you believe this?”
The Costa Concordia was lifted from its watery grave the exact same week that God delivered my raft in the form of a cruise ship. Not just any cruise line, but the same cruise line that was resurrecting a ship, twenty months after submersion.
“God, you’re going to do it. Oh, God. You are going to pull me up out of this watery grave.”
And as I watched the news clip in slow motion and listened to the news anchors talking about how a feat like this had never been done before, I knew my resurrection was coming. That although I had felt God had forgotten about me, He hadn’t. As sure as this ship was being lifted up out of the water, so He would lift me up out from a watery grave.