Albert Anson’s life could have ended when he was 3 years old.
That’s when he was hit by a car.
He survived that terrible accident.
Two years later, he could have drowned.
At the time, Albert had gone to a city swimming pool with his older brother Everett.
Albert was walking around the shallow end of the pool, when Everett decided that might not be so safe for his baby brother.
“I don’t think you should be in the big pool,” Everett told Albert. “Go in the kiddie pool.”
So Albert did.
But when he got there, Albert saw some flying insects, possibly bees.
“I was afraid,” Albert said. “As a kid, I was afraid of a bee stinging me so I went back to the big pool and waded in the shallow end.”
That’s when Everett spotted his little brother.
“He always looked after me like a hawk,” Albert said.
When Everett wondered why Albert had returned, the little boy explained the situation with the bees.
Everett again warned Albert to stay in the shallow end.
That didn’t quite work out.
“I’ve always been curious,” said Albert, who tried wading just a little deeper into the pool.
Albert wanted to see how far he could go before turning back.
Probably not a good idea.
“I got about waist deep and my feet went out from under me and I went down under the water and laid there at the bottom of the pool,” he said.
Everett went looking for Albert.
“He saw me on the bottom of the pool and picked me up by my swim trunks,” Albert said.
Looking back, Albert believes his brother saved his life.
“If he hadn’t found me, I probably would have drowned at the bottom of the pool. I didn’t have the common sense to stand back up again,” Albert said.
And I wonder if maybe Albert was scared, too.
Albert would have other close calls later on in life.
Yet each time, God preserved his life on this earth.
Now 84 years old, Albert lives in Fremont and loves sharing his faith stories.
And he still refers to Everett as his guardian angel.
I love the fact that while Albert may not have been watching for his brother — Everett was keeping a close eye on him.
It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible stories. It’s found in the New Testament book of Matthew, chapter 14.
In this account, Jesus tells his disciples to get into a boat and go to the other side of a lake, then Christ goes alone to pray on a mountainside.
He’s still there by evening. The boat is quite some distance from the shore and is being buffeted by the waves. The wind is against it.
At one point, Jesus walks out on the lake to the disciples.
When the disciples see him, they’re terrified and they cry out.
They think they’re seeing a ghost.
Immediately, Jesus says, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water,” says Peter, one of Christ’s disciples.
Christ tells him to come.
So Peter gets out of the boat and starts walking toward Jesus.
Yet when Peter sees the wind, he becomes afraid and starts to sink.
“Lord, save me,” he cries out.
Right away, Jesus reaches out his hand and catches Peter.
I doubt Jesus pulled Peter up by his swimming trunks like Everett did with Albert.
But he still made a great catch.
And while Peter took his eyes off Jesus — our Lord obviously never took his eyes off the quickly sinking disciple.
Everett may have watched Albert like a hawk, but Jesus could see Peter in ways no ordinary person could.
An average person could assume any guy might become a good leader if he had the self-motivation to get out of a boat and walk across the waves.
Yet Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, really could see Peter’s future.
Jesus knew Peter would leave that lake and — in the not too distant future — deny he ever knew Christ.
Peter would repent, later be filled with the Holy Spirit and go on to preach an incredible, faith-filled sermon.
After that sermon, 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ and Peter spent the rest of his life spreading the good news about Jesus.
Christian tradition states that Peter was crucified in Rome under the evil Emperor Nero. It’s also said Peter asked to be crucified upside down since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus.
Jesus knew Peter would be martyred for the faith — and told him so.
Before Christ ascended into heaven, he told Peter that “when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”
I wonder what it was like for Peter to live with that knowledge.
Did it sadden him? Make him more intent on making every day count? Intensify his passion to spread the Gospel?
I don’t know.
But I’ll bet as time passed, Peter recalled many of Christ’s miracles — including the one where our Lord made a great catch — and pulled him from the water.
Christ still makes great catches today.
You see it when:
- A modern-day saint gives hope to someone lost in the dark waters of despair.
- A lost soul comes to know Christ in a very real and personal way.
- An ordinary person is able to overcome extraordinary obstacles while relying on God to provide daily strength and courage.
I’ve known Albert for years. I’ve seen his rock-solid faith and love for God.
Many years ago, I was talking to Albert and his wife, June, when he started talking about heaven. He figured it would have lots of beautiful flowers and it would be a place where he could really sing.
Funny thing, but as he talked I felt very dark inside — and as if a light was illuminating that darkness.
I’m not sure why I felt that way. Maybe I had some unforgiveness or resentment or bad attitudes.
Maybe things I needed to change — and later did.
I don’t know. I’ve never felt that way since, but it makes me think about how important it is to let the Holy Spirit shine a light in our hearts.
We can do that by praying and asking God to examine our hearts and show us where we might need to repent, apologize and/or make a course correction.
Such things aren’t always easy, but I’ve found the cleansing peace that follows is worth it.
I’m sure glad Albert didn’t drown all those years ago.
If that had happened, I’d never have met him nor heard his stories of faith.
Recently, I saw a photograph of Albert — when he was a little boy. He looked pretty cute.
I’ll bet he was pretty adventurous.
And I’ll bet he kept his watchful, older brother pretty busy.