This wonderful supernatural experience occurred in the summer of 1958. I had just turned 10 years old. Nearly a half-century later, I am still awed by the memory. Because of this experience I’ve always known there is a God. For much of my life I didn’t have the greatest relationship with him, but I could never deny his existence.
I grew up in a rural, mountainous region of the northwestern United States. The kids in my neighborhood spent many summer days swimming in the lakes and streams of our beautiful area.
One day, my friend "Sally" and I decided to make a fairly long trek to a large pond created when beavers dammed a creek. Although we had never visited this spot before, other kids had been there and described where it was.
Sally and I took along her family’s pet dog, a little Chihuahua. I remember the dog was named Mutnik, after the Soviet satellite Sputnik.
In this day and age it seems crazy to allow 10-year-old kids to wander around all day on their own, especially to remote swimming holes. But that was a more innocent time. No one thought anything of it.
If you can picture Sally and me, we were both extremely skinny kids with dark ponytails and glasses. We were dressed only in little one-piece cotton bathing suits with straps that tied around the neck.
To get to this beaver pond we walked up a dirt road and through a forest. Then we had to wade a shallow, swift stream and pick our way across a rocky area. We were all alone at the pond, since it wasn’t the most convenient spot to reach.
We spent hours swimming, not starting for home until almost dusk. Well, of course by this time we were exhausted from playing in the water all day. And remember, we were two of the scrawniest children alive.
When we reached the swift little creek, we started to wade across. Both of us were immediately knocked down, dragged downstream and banged up on the rocks. Our towels floated away and our little bathing suits were ripped half off. We made it to the other side, but we were shaken and bruised.
As we sat there gasping for breath and examining our scrapes and bumps, Sally glanced across the creek and began to wail. There was poor tiny Mutnik, whining and looking terrified. Considering we had just narrowly escaped drowning, we obviously couldn’t wade back across to rescue the dog. Sally was crying and hollering about all the trouble she was in.
Well, I was convinced that God could do anything he wanted. I believed he had found my glasses for me when I lost them in second grade. So I announced we needed to pray.
Sally said “He doesn’t hear us!” But I insisted “Yes, he does.”
So we sat there on the rocks and closed our eyes for a couple of seconds. I said a few words silently, probably something profound like “Dear Lord: Please help the dog. Amen.” When we opened our eyes, that Chihuahua was just floating, skimming, across the top of the rushing water. I’ve always said she looked like there was a hand under her.
Sally and I were overwhelmed, to say the least. We made our way through the woods and started walking back down the dirt road, just raving about how wonderful God was and how we couldn’t believe what we had just seen. We were quite the spectacle, if anyone had been around to see us: all scraped up, babbling excitedly, our bathing suits still untied and hanging down around our waists.
Sally’s pet name for me and some of her other friends was “Kiddy.” At one point during this conversation on the dirt road, she turned to me and said, “Kiddy, what can we ever do to thank him?”
I opened my mouth to respond, but I will never know what I was going to say. Right then a deep male voice boomed from the sky, saying “Praise God.”
Now if this voice had been meant to be generally audible, people would have heard it for miles around. It was unbelievably loud. It echoed. It resonated. It was accompanied by some sort of unearthly music.
I shrieked and nearly fainted. Sally said “What’s wrong?” I was flabbergasted and shouted “Didn’t you hear it? A voice said ‘Praise God’ ’’!
She said “Oh, yeah. I heard it too.”
My house was closest, and we burst in the front door. I was sobbing. My mother still remembers me saying “Mommy, mommy!” as I described what happened. Mom knew that God does make himself known dramatically at times, so she believed me and was thrilled.
Then we ran to Sally’s house and told her mom, who was absolutely disgusted. She dismissed the whole experience as a bunch of baloney and said we had wild imaginations. Sally immediately backed down and agreed we must have imagined it all. But I said “Nope. No way.”
I figured out pretty quickly that Sally didn’t hear the booming “Praise God.” If she had, she couldn’t have denied it was real. For some reason, the voice was for my ears only that day. Sally did witness the dog skimming across the creek, but I suppose that could easily be explained away. When I look back, the voice is what impresses me most.
As I stated before, this happened nearly 50 years ago, but I clearly remember that deep, calm, glorious voice from the sky. When I reflect on it, I still feel the same awe and gratitude.
Over the years I have told several people about this experience. I think most believed the voice was produced by the over-stimulated brain of a traumatized kid. But let me tell you, “Praise God” was not part of my 10-year-old vocabulary. And the voice interrupted me, just as I was about to impart some childish bit of spiritual wisdom. I was probably going to tell Sally we needed to start going to Sunday School, or quit making prank phone calls, or something.
I hope this story comforts or inspires someone. The supernatural is real and God really does care in a personal way, even about little kids and stranded dogs in the backwoods.