A Surfer's Divine Warning

Although he ignored a sign from above, he was still miraculously protected.

Posted in , Jul 25, 2022

Illustration of a surfer in wetsuit; Illustration by Tanguy Jestin

I drove north on California’s Pacific Coast Highway after attending a work conference in Santa Cruz. It was roughly three hours away from where I lived in Pismo Beach, and I’d decided to make the most of the trip by hitting a new beach to surf. I was an avid surfer, and I was excited to try out a different spot.

It was a miserably gray day with intermittent rain showers, but the waves looked fun. I pulled into the parking lot to search the stretch of cliff-lined coast. My truck was the only vehicle. The beach was empty.

Surfboard under my arm, I headed down a flight of stairs to the beach. With the sand between my toes. I watched the water for a moment, taking in the waves. I was anxious to get out there.

Then I felt it. An inner conviction. Don’t paddle out. I’d never felt anything like it before, this urge. It cut through my thoughts as if it originated from somewhere else. It was strong. I wasn’t sure where it came from or what to make of it. But the waves looked so promising, and I felt young and invincible. So I quickly brushed aside the feeling and pulled on my wetsuit.

As I neared the water’s edge, I felt it again. Don’t paddle out. This time, almost pleading with me. I ignored it and dove into the surf, swimming quickly until I was out past the break.

I sat up on my board, bobbing in the water, and looked around, waiting to catch a wave. To my dismay, almost as soon as I’d paddled out, the waves turned to garbage. There was an incessant current that kept me paddling the whole time to stay in place. I was only in the water for roughly 30 minutes when, out of frustration, I decided I was leaving.

I caught one final wave and made my way to shore. Because of the current, I was a few hundred yards away from where I’d parked my car. I had to walk along the edge of the cliff-lined shore back to my truck. The tide was on the rise, leaving a small strip of beach next to the cliff face to walk on.

The edges of the waves gently lapped my feet as I made my way toward my truck. I rounded a small bend in the rocks. The water receded. And kept receding…

With terror, I realized that the water was about to surge, and I’d reached the mouth of a deep cave, with nowhere to go.

I braced for the wave’s impact. “God, help me!” I cried out. Then I was swept under the water. Everything went black.

When I came to, I was pinned to the back of the cave. The water was up to my neck. My surfboard had spun around behind me, protecting my head from the rocky wall. But I wasn’t out of danger yet. I had to get out of the cave before another wave came, before the tide rose even higher. I felt the water start to pull out to sea. I swam with everything in me, clearing the cave’s mouth. I didn’t stop until I reached a safe stretch of beach past the cliff face. I flopped onto the sand, panting, my heart pounding.

Lying there, I realized that God had tried to warn me. In his ultimate mercy, even though I’d ignored him, he’d protected me. I had only a few small bumps and bruises. I hadn’t inhaled any water. Sure, I was shaken up, but I was otherwise pretty much unharmed. It was a hard-learned lesson, and one I’ll never forget.

It’s been 22 years since that day. I still surf, but now I listen carefully for warnings before I head out. And if I get one, I heed it.

For more inspiring stories, subscribe to Mysterious Ways magazine.

Related Videos

View Comments