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Christian Blog Self Care

Into the Deep

The prayer room at my seminary dorm was small: just two comfy chairs and a little table framed by a window. A wooden box with a hinged lid sat on the table—a place for people to leave prayer requests on the cards provided. Each card had space at the bottom where you could tell the person you prayed for them.

I sat down in one of the chairs, opened the box and began to pray for each request. The first two were like many I’d seen before. “Please pray for my dad. He has open heart surgery next week.” “My cousin isn’t a Christian. Pray that she will accept Jesus as her Savior.”

I reached into the box for another request and fished out a piece of paper that was folded several times. “This is odd,” I thought, as I flattened out the creases.

What I read sent a shiver up my spine: “My name is Daryl and I want to kill myself.” I impulsively scribbled a message back, “Please don’t. I’m here if you want to talk” I added my first name and room number, refolded the paper and put it back in the box.

Later that evening someone came to my door. I opened up to find a rather disheveled man: about my age, with major bed-head hair, tired eyes and mismatched clothing. He looked like a workaholic telecommuter straight from central casting.

“My name is Daryl,” he said. “I’m the one who wrote the note.”

Cue second shiver up my spine. Since I wasn’t sure when my roommate would return, I suggested we talk out in the foyer. I sat near the end of a long couch, while he stood uneasily across from me, repeating (over and again) his intention to end his life. He also mentioned that he had the means to do so–in his car, which was parked right outside.

This was way more than I’d bargained for, but there was literally no one else around. So I began to talk. I shared scripture verses, stories of survival and positive thoughts, but Daryl was undeterred.

NOTHING helped.

I asked him to wait while I went to get someone, but he refused. He said he would leave if I did. By this time he was clearly agitated: pacing back and forth throwing glances at the front door.

Exasperated and out of options, I got on my knees beside the couch and began to pray out loud. For 15 minutes…30 minutes…45 minutes, I cried out to God: “Heavenly Father, please help Daryl want to live!”

Sometime after the 45 minute mark I felt him sit down on the couch beside me. I looked up. Daryl began to quietly sob. He told me he wouldn’t go through it. Reaching into the pocket of his tattered brown blazer, he pressed something into my hand that brought the third shiver of the day: a single 12 gauge shotgun shell.

At 1 a.m. we parted ways. It turned out he was my next door neighbor who’d just returned to seminary in the past twenty-four hours!

At 8 a.m. that same morning I waited outside the student counselor’s office. Let’s just say I was his most interesting walk-in that day! I told him the whole story. He said he was familiar with Daryl and knew he had just returned to campus. Someone close to him had committed suicide and he was in danger of doing so himself. The counselor had been trying to contact him.

I head back to the dorm, and sure enough, there’s a thick thumb-tacked stack of notes on the message board for Daryl. The next day there’s a message for me. It’s from the counselor. Daryl had been to see him and was returning home. I am to keep the entire matter in confidence.

The only evidence that remained of what happened was my vivid memory and a 12 gauge magnum shotgun shell.

Then Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “So far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

I soon realized that the shotgun shell represented MY Ebenezer from God–a reminder of His help in my inadequacy. I walked “into the deep” to rescue a man who’d lost his way, but was unable to lead him out.

God intervened and saved us both.

Almost 30 years later, I still have that shotgun shell. It sits in the back of a drawer and I take it out from time to time. Holding it in my hand, I recognize a certain overconfident young man (me) who overestimated his abilities, and then I thank the God who stepped in.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I hope you’re still out there, Daryl— happily alive and middle-aged like me.

By davidsdailydose

I'm just a regular guy who was
tempted to lose all hope but did not. It was God who made the difference.

36 replies on “Into the Deep”

You can say that again! These days I probably would still write on the prayer card, but refer Daryl to the student counselor, not me. It was after hours though, so perhaps it happened the way God wanted it to. Like you said, God’s presence — in good times or bad— is what helps us through. Thank you for reading and commenting. Blessings.

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Thanks for sharing your life changing story. When we were younger, we do things we regret but thank God for intervening before it got worse or placed us or others in harms way. When we look at how many times he saved us or help us through hard times, we realize how lucky we are to have God then, now and always. God bless🙏

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Thank you for sharing your perspective, Matcha. I remember Fred Rogers saying his mom always used to tell him, “In times of trouble, look for the helpers.”
Like you, I am a helper. That’s a big part of what God has me here to do. Blessings.

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That was an incredibly powerful story. There are two professions that often talk people off the edge the most, healthcare and priesthood. I believe those two professions are blessed for this reason.
They also have a closer bond with the divine. Jesus both preached and healed the sick. Both make a whole. When we heal, its mind and body. With God healing the mind that day (with your intercession), the body was saved from terminal damage and the soul from eternal damnation.
God answers our earnest prayers. It was proven that day.

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Thanks, Heidi! I appreciate your input. I had no idea how God was going to use me that night. It certainly felt like I was walking in a tight rope without a net. Of course, that wasn’t true. God was there, and he left me the shotgun shell as a reminder.

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What an incredible Ebenezer. I know from my own experience how God can use people to bring light and life into a life who doesn’t find it worthy to go on. Yes. It is God. But it takes people to care to show others the way to Him.

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Thank you, Manette. I went into this experience trusting more in myself (I had no idea), but came out trusting much more in God. It was when I ran out of ideas that the Holy Spirit began to work through my fervent prayer. Blessings to you and Happy Thanksgiving!

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A powerful testimony of a divine encounter. You did the right thing by praying in faith that God and God alone could change Daryl’s mindset and will to live. Thank you for sharing your story so that others may be encouraged to do likewise as God directs opportunities before them. Blessings!

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David, you are a healer. You used your energy and intentions back with your powerful loving God given soul to help a fellow brother🙏 We are all connected and have the ability to love, which can work miracles. Your testimony here proves it. Thank you so much for sharing this most beautiful experience with us all. I’m grateful for you. So many blessings I pray will rain down upon you and your family always, especially on this Thanksgiving holiday. God bless you David❤🙏🎆

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It is such a powerful message that God still cares, and intervenes, even when we fear it is almost hopeless. Such is the heart and power of God. Thank you for sharing this. And thank you for your blog as well. I find it thought-provoking and very uplifting. Happy Thanksgiving!

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I will never forget, and God left me the shotgun shell to make sure I don’t. As you know, one can’t always just speak “truth” to someone who is in the midst of trauma! Like Jesus told his disciples (when they couldn’t perform a certain miracle) this kind only comes out through prayer. Thank you for reading and interacting. I always enjoy you comments AND your blog. Blessings, and Happy Thanksgiving.

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I am. My favorite Picard line is from Mission to Far Point. “If we’re going to be damned, let’s be damned for what we really are.” I got to go through the Star Trek Experience many years ago in Las Vegas, challenged the curator on a fine point – and lost – and have a picture of myself sitting in Picard’s chair!

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Thank you, Jeffrey. I went into the situation thinking I could help, but quickly realized it was going to take more than I could do. I understand where you’re coming from, it just felt like when Capt. Jean Luc Picard first encountered the Borg—if you happened to be a Trekkie. 😀. I appreciate your thoughts. All the glory to God!

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David, I don’t think you over-estimated yourself at all. Your faith responded to a call for help. Faith. You took a swan dive into the abyss without knowing how far down it would go, but you did so as a Christian. You were motivated by God. Whether you were conscious of it or not, you knew to rely on God and not your own abilities. How else could you come up with scriptures to help Daryl? How else could you pray that long in that situation.

No, sir. You did not over-estimate yourself. If anything, I submit that you might be under-estimating God as you look back! God made you a good man and put you there for Daryl. That’s really the whole story!

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Thanks, Dee. We never know when a drowning person could appear. Yes, this is a deep story—perhaps a little too deep for a “feel good” blogger like me, but it really happened and I am REALLY thankful that God intervened. Have a blessed Thanksgiving. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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Wow! This was certainly a deep story, David. I’m so thankful for the Lord’s intervention.

As I ponder more on this, I wonder really, how many neighbors do we have that are drowning right beside us when we have access to share our life jacket? Opportunities to invite them into the boat? I’m so guilty.

Ps: I like the idea of the box with prayers and the space at the bottom that indicates that prayer was made.

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