Snatched From the Fire
Snatched from the fire
I want to tell you about what God did for me in a time of great trouble and distress. It was a time when our family was involved in a boating accident.
Our boat the Omega caught fire and my son was badly burned as a result.
It was a May bank holiday when we set out in our small cabin cruiser on 10 day holiday on the inland waterways system.
Onboard was my husband, myself, our daughter (13) our son (12) and the family dog Taggs.
We had been out on Omega for about a week before the accident happened. We had moored up in the city of Lincoln overnight and we started off up the river Witham on our way to Boston.
It was a fine day but very windy. The direction that we were travelling put us into the wind. Our engine was only a 10 horsepower Honda and against a fairly stiff wind we were not making much headway.
I was inside the boat writing up a research project for my degree course. I heard a bit of a commotion on the back of the boat.
My husband was on the back of the boat, which is where the steering position is, with both of the children. He decided to add the small outboard off our inflatable to get a little more power. He hoped to speed the boat up and to make it easier to steer in the strong wind.
He put the small engine on but it needed more fuel. So the children filled up the little fuel tank on the outboard from a small fuel can.
My husband was steering the boat with his back to them while this was going on. One of the children put the can down while they did up the cap on the engine’s fuel tank.
The can did not have its lid shut and somehow the fuel can toppled over. My husband quickly saw what was happening and told the children to jump overboard into the river.
My daughter went up onto the back seat and over the side straight away. My son started to do the same but somehow slipped and fell back into the boat.
My son had just changed into his shorts and when he fell back into the boat he also fell into the spilt fuel. As he fell the pilot light of the gas fridge which was on the back of the boat ignited the fuel vapour and my son.
My husband grabbed my son who was now on fire and he threw him into the river. My husband then grabbed the boarding plank and threw that into the river also. This was to give the kids something to hold onto and to help them to keep afloat. This was the commotion that I heard from the inside of the boat.
By the time I got to the door that led out onto the back of the boat, the whole back of the boat was ablaze. I opened the door to a wall of flames. I quickly shut the door again to give me a moment to think.
I prayed 'God help me.' Then I thought to myself, well sooner or later I am going to have to go out through this door to get off the boat. So the sooner I did the better.
I opened the door walked through the flames pulling the door closed behind me. I walked across the back of the boat and jumped over the side into the cold deep waters of the river Witham.
I seemed to be going down into the water for a long time. But still did not hit the bottom of the river; it was much deeper than I had anticipated.
We were used to being mainly on the canals and they are only around four feet deep in most parts. Fall into the canal and you can stand up and your head will normally be out of the water.
When I finally came to the surface I swam over to the children. They were both holding onto the wooden boarding plank my husband had thrown in for them.
I asked them if they were all right and my daughter said that the dog was still on-board the burning boat. My husband swam back to the burning boat, which by this time had come to rest on the other side of the river.
The flames by this time had gone across the roof of the boat and set fire to the canoe that was on the roof.
My husband climbed back into the burning boat through one of the windows. He found the dog cowering in the front end of the boat. I was torn while all this was going on. I wanted the dog safe but did not want my husband to climb back on-board a burning boat.
The strong winds were whipping up the flames and the fire was burning fiercely. While he was back on-board my husband also rescued my handbag (you call it your purse) as well as the dog. This was to turn out a real blessing.
As my husband was busy rescuing the dog, I asked again both of the children if they were all right.
My daughter said that she was fine but she was sad that the boat was burning. She was also worried about her Dad who was still on the burning boat.
My son said that he was fine but that his legs felt funny. I asked him in what way did they feel funny. He said that they felt all slimy and slippery. I told him to lift his legs out of the water so that I could see. I was not prepared for what I saw.
He lifted his legs clear of the water. I could see that his skin was grey looking and hanging off his legs like ribbons. I told him to put his legs back into the water. I knew that the water was the best place to keep his burnt legs at that time.
We decided to stay in the water until help came. A farmer had come to the river edge to say that he had seen the smoke and had sent for the emergency services.
By this time my husband had swum back to us and I told him the state of our son’s legs.
The week before, my husband had had an abscess under one of his teeth. Our doctor had given him some strong painkillers for the pain.
We still had one of these pills in my handbag so I got it out and gave half of it to my son to take.
All I could think of was how painful his legs must be with burns. The burns stretched from his ankles to just below the tops of his thighs.
My son said that he couldn’t take it because he didn’t have any water to take it with. We all laughed at this and I said
"Son we are sitting in a river full of water and a little bit more of this rivers water won’t hurt you." So he took the painkiller washed down with a little Witham water.
As he took this pain killer I laid my hands on my son and I prayed for him. My mind was already thinking about the skin grafts that he would need on his legs.
I had undergone some minor plastic surgery. In the course of it I had a donor area of about two square inches of skin taken from my arm.
I have had two children and broken bones. But I had never experienced pain like that caused by that small donor area. All I could think of was the present pain my son was in and the future pain that was in store for him.
In my distress I called out to God to help my son, I wanted God to take away his pain.
What happened next took me completely by surprise. It was as if I had suddenly got onto heavens elevator. As I put hands on my son and prayed, I seemed to go straight into the very presence of God.
I felt immense joy and praise welling up inside. This was the last thing that I wanted at this time and I had not expected anything remotely like this to happen.
Here I was with my son in the water with burnt legs and I was being whisked off into some place of Joy and peace. I thought that I was going mad.
In the midst of all this I had an immediate answer from God to my prayer. I knew then that my son was going to be all right both physically and mentally.
God somehow gave me a reassurance that no matter how it looked my son would come through it all. He also would not be emotionally scarred by this event.
I fought the feelings of joy and praise welling up within me. I fought because I felt so guilty about having these feelings while in this situation.
The Fire Brigade was the first to arrive on the scene. Although my son had been quiet while in the water I thought that he would panic when he saw the state of his legs.
I felt that when he saw his burnt skin hanging off his legs like ribbons he would become hysterical. The Firemen lifted my son gently out of the river and sat him in their cab on the fire engine.
The firemen carried buckets of water up to the cab to keep my son’s legs cool. We were taken to Lincoln County Hospital, which is only a small cottage type hospital. My son never complained once while all this was going on.
All the time I kept expecting him to panic but he never did. We got to the hospital and the nurse began to cut away all the skin that was hanging off our son’s legs.
She cleaned his legs up, and all the while he didn’t make a murmur. The doctor wrapped my son’s legs in a sort of cling film and then bandaged him up and said we could take him home.
We couldn’t believe it. But we thought that they must know what they are doing and that it must just look a lot worse than it is.
Friends arrived at the hospital and took us back to our home in their car.
We put our son to bed. When everyone had gone up to bed and I was alone downstairs, I asked God if what had happened in the water was real. I asked if it was really Him and not my imagination.
God gave me a reading Jude two three.
I thought Jude? That’s a song by the Beatles not a book in the Bible. But the same thing came again.
So I got out my Bible and really it was just to show God that Jude wasn’t in it. I went through all the Old Testament Books and sure enough there was no Jude there.
But again it came. I knew that I didn’t know the Old Testament books that well but I thought that I knew the New Testament books.
This time I looked through the entire index and sure enough there was the book of Jude. It was just the one page in my Bible tucked right next to the book of Revelation.
I turned to it and to my amazement in verse 23 I saw these words
“save others by snatching them out of the fire”
This was in the Good News Bible. I knew then that what I had experienced in the water was of God.
That night our son became delirious and we took him to the A&E at our own hospital that is like your ER.
When they saw the state of our son they sent us straight to the specialist burns unit at the City hospital. Our son was in the hospital for a few weeks and underwent surgery. He had large areas of his legs covered with skin grafts.
He was put on morphine drips to combat the pain. I spent the days at the hospital with our son and my husband spent the nights at hospital with him.
Through it all our son hardly ever complained. But there was this one nurse who sometimes came to change his dressings. She was a little rough and impatient.
When our son told her that what she was doing hurt, she told him sharply not to be mardy (it means a cry-baby).
Both my son and his Dad told this nurse strongly that he was not mardy in fact he was the very opposite.
My husband then told this nurse that she would not be touching his son again. From then on my husband changed all our son’s dressings.
Our son had a home tutor when he came out of hospital. Ironically the home tutor’s name was Mrs Burns.
Mrs Burns was a very good teacher. Our son benefited so much from the individual tuition that he received from her.
It was months before our son was ready to go back to school. During this time our son grew in so many ways and we saw aspects of his character that we never knew were there.
Our son impressed everyone with his courage and calmness. By the way the dog Taggs lived to be seventeen and a half years old.
You remember that joy and peace which I had experienced while in the water and that I felt so guilty about?
Well it was much later when I remembered that the Bible says
‘The joy of the Lord is my strength.’
So God had taken care of everything.
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