Friend to Friend


John H. Groberg

I grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where there are a number of big canals. One hot summer day when I was nine years old, I was hurrying to finish mowing the lawn so I could go swimming in the canal with my friends. But before I was through, my mother came outside and told me that she didn’t want me to go swimming that day. Not long after Mother had talked to me, my friends came along and helped me finish my work. Then I disobeyed my mother and went to the canal with them anyway.

When we got to the canal, we floated on inner tubes and swam and had lots of fun. Even more fun was going over the check, a kind of dam in the canal. We would come floating along on our inner tubes and then drop over the check to be shot rapidly forward as the water fell with great force over it. After a short ride below the check, we would get out of the canal, walk upstream a mile or so, and float down again.

One time my friends went ahead, and as I walked by the check I thought, If it’s fun going over in an inner tube, it’ll be a lot more fun going over without the inner tube!

I left the inner tube on the bank and jumped in. But when I realized how swift the current was, I knew I had made a mistake. The force of the water propelled me over the check. And instead of coming up as we did on our inner tubes, I just kept going down deeper and deeper. I thrashed and churned and tried to get out, but I couldn’t. It seemed as though the devil had hold of my feet, pulling me down and laughing all the time. Soon my air began to run out.

I was desperate. I prayed with all my heart and promised our Father in heaven I would serve Him all of my life if He would just help me. I also told Him, before I passed out, that I was sorry for not obeying my mother.

When I opened my eyes, I thought I was in heaven. I could see some green branches and leaves and could hear birds singing. I watched the white clouds move against a brilliant blue sky. It was beautiful. Thinking I had died, I closed my eyes again to thank my Father in heaven for bringing me to such a lovely place.

The next thing I remembered was water washing over my arms and chest. I opened my eyes and found that most of my body was in the slowly moving water of the canal, and my head was lodged on a large rock above the water on the bank. I was still alive! I closed my eyes and thanked my Heavenly Father for saving my life and promised Him I would always try to obey my mother.

Shortly after I climbed out, my friends came down the canal. They shouted at me and wanted to know where I had been. I only told them I didn’t feel like swimming anymore that day and that I was going home because my mother needed me.

I have always been sorry that I didn’t obey my mother that beautiful summer day in Idaho, but I am grateful that she taught me how to pray and to have faith in our Father in heaven. I know He hears our prayers.

[illustration] Illustrated by Jerry Thompson