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.






36 responses to “Into the Deep”

  1. davidsdailydose Avatar

    Thank you! I love Psalm 34. Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tastybiteweb Avatar

    “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from ALL my fears.” Psalm 34:4

    Liked by 2 people

  3. davidsdailydose Avatar

    Amen! His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. God Bless you, brother!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Alan Kearns Avatar

    A beautiful testimony Ďavid, how we can rely on Almighty God in times when our own inadequacies trip us up. Praise God for His provisions to mortal man.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. davidsdailydose Avatar

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Island Traveler Avatar

    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🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  7. davidsdailydose Avatar

    Yes, I wonder about Daryl from time to time and hope he’s still out there. I couldn’t help but get involved, but didn’t know what I was doing. Thankfully, God did. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Evad Mac Avatar

    I Wonder what Daryl is up to today, i am sure you think about that. No doubt your willingness to hang out instead of saying you don’t have time really impacted him. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. davidsdailydose Avatar

    Thank you, Evad. It was a powerful experience; this is the first time I’ve told the story publicly. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Evad Mac Avatar

    Powerful words dude, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. davidsdailydose Avatar

    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.


  12. Matcha Avatar

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. davidsdailydose Avatar

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Heidi Viars Avatar

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. musingsofmanettekay Avatar

    I love how our Savior redeems even our inept attempts at being a faithful servent, once we “get it” that we can do nothing apart from HIS graces.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. davidsdailydose Avatar

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. musingsofmanettekay Avatar

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. davidsdailydose Avatar

    I appreciate your kind words. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Blessings to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ladysag77 Avatar

    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❤🙏🎆

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Don't Lose Hope Avatar

    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!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. davidsdailydose Avatar

    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.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. davidsdailydose Avatar

    This is so true, Betty. We don’t always KNOW what some else is going through. Thankfully, God does. I appreciate you reading this longer than usual post. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Dan and family.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Don't Lose Hope Avatar

    My gosh, what a moving story. I don’t think you would ever forget an experience like that. I praise God, too, that He intervened in a way that only He could. And I hope that Daryl is living out a meaningful life today.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Betty Avatar

    We never know what burdens another person carries. I am glad you did what you could, and I am glad the Lord heard your prayer and intervened.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Jeffrey H. King Avatar

    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!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. davidsdailydose Avatar

    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!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Vince Cambron Avatar
    Vince Cambron


    Liked by 2 people

  28. Jeffrey H. King Avatar

    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!

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Dee Avatar

    You’re welcome 😊

    Thanks…and happy thanksgiving to you too ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  30. davidsdailydose Avatar

    Yes, indeed, BG! And the Lord left the shotgun shell as a reminder—my Ebenezer. Yes. Thanks be to God! Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. BG Avatar

    Wow, we just never know when our smallest act is a divine appointment for intervention in someone’s deepest desperate moment. Thanks be to God!

    Liked by 3 people

  32. davidsdailydose Avatar

    Yes. I thank God that he intervened, Manu. I almost included a disclaimer: “Don’t try this at home…”. I was in over my head and didn’t realize it until it was just Daryl, me and God. Blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Perth Girl Avatar

    Wow! Thank the Lord that He intervened and you were obedient to the call to reach out to Darryl and prayed for him.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. davidsdailydose Avatar

    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.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Dee Avatar

    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.

    Liked by 3 people

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