The words of a lullaby resonate through my mind this morning as I open my book of Opportunity to Chapter 2, Page 1. (February 1)
I doubt if they remember it, but I used to croon this lullaby over my children when they were babies:
“All night, all day; Angels watching over me, my Lord. All night, all day; Angels watching over me. Now I lay me down to sleep, Angels watching over me, my Lord. I pray the Lord my soul to keep, Angels watching over me. Sun’s a-setting in the West; Angels watching over me, my Lord. Sleep my child, take your rest; Angels watching over me.”
This morning, I heard about a fellow who survived an amazing 1,000 foot fall from the summit of a 3,600-foot mountain in Scotland. While hiking, he slipped and literally bounced down a near vertical cliff. When a rescuing helicopter arrived, responders found him standing at the bottom of the mountain reading a map trying to figure out where he was.
“It was quite incredible. He must have literally glanced off the outcrops as he fell, almost flying,” Lieutenant Tim Barker said, according to reports of the rescue. The 35-year-old man sustained only cuts and bruises and hopes to be able to climb Mount Everest in about a month. Now that’s what I call tenacity! Get back on a mountain after it throws you off!
One newscaster called the man “lucky” while another said he must have had a “guardian angel.” I imagine that gentleman may believe angels did watch over him protecting him from harm and death! Thoughts of how God’s hand does protect us so often when we are in danger erupted in my mind while I listened to this tale.
Some people think angels literally come from heaven to our aid. Others think angels walk among us, looking out for us. I do believe angels exist. I believe God sends them as His messengers, to do spiritual battle, and to protect us, although I’m not sure about the whole guardian angel thing. But I do recall most vividly one time in my life, where I did think an angel came to my rescue. Whether he was just a human being or an angel in human form, I have no clue. But for me, he was a life-saver.
Picture a mother with two very young children driving her beloved, elderly in-laws to the airport. Her husband is currently out of town on business as he is so often. His parents just enjoyed an extended visit to the Midwest to spend time with their far-away family. Grandparents doted on grand-daughters with a little bit of sight-seeing squeezed in here and there.
The day proves to be already hot and steamy with temperatures nearing 100 degrees. The airport, located north of the city, is a 40-minute drive from this young mom’s home, but a very deserted stretch of highway lies between it and her house.
Because she has her two little girls in tow, one still a baby strapped in her car seat and the other a 4-year-old, the in-laws tell her to just drop them and their luggage off at the departure gate, so she doesn’t have to park and drag the children along. She agrees and after many quick hugs and kisses, drives off on her way home.
Even with the air conditioner blasting cool air, she feels sticky and can’t wait to arrive safely back home so she can prepare some lunch and put baby down for her nap. She’s driving along that deserted stretch and she notices that there is not one house or building to be seen in this area.
And that’s when it happens. Her car, a fairly new model, seems to choke, shudder and then dies. She coasts off the highway and the car comes to a complete stop on the berm.
“What the heck?” she thinks as she turns the ignition key off. She waits a few seconds and tries to start the car again. Nothing. Won’t turn over. Deader than a door-nail. She thinks she will do the sensible thing and turns on her flashers. Trying to start the car again to no avail, a little panic wells up in her.
She surveys the scene – absolutely no buildings within sight! How far will she have to walk in the stifling heat and humidity with two little ones before she might find help? In the days before cell phones, she has no other choice. When she does find a phone, who will she call? Hubby is very far from home and unavailable until he checks into a hotel that night. She doesn’t know anyone who lives in this area.
A few cars and trucks whizz past her, shaking her vehicle as they fly by. But no one stops. Should she stay put and pray for a police car to happen upon her? The interior of her vehicle is already heating up without the air conditioner running. She realizes she has no food, no water. Nothing. (Note to my kids: This is why your Mom always takes water in the car!)
She starts to cry from frustration and fear and of course, her oldest child wants to know what’s wrong. Suddenly, a large delivery truck pulls over in front of her. A man jumps down from the truck cab and approaches her car. Does she wind the window down and talk to him? Is it safe? Uttering a quick cry to the Lord for safety, she opens her window.
The truck driver asks her what happened and then looks under the hood of her car. He shakes his head, tells her he has no idea what could be wrong as he’s not used to these foreign models. He says he’s sorry, but he has a delivery to make and must get back on the road.
After thanking him, she forlornly watches him climb back into his truck and start to pull out onto the highway. “God,” she cries, “who will help us?”
Immediately, the truck pulls back over on the berm and the truck driver jumps back out of his cab. “Ma’am,” he begins. “I just can’t in good conscience leave you and these two little babies stranded out here in this heat. I know you don’t know me, and I understand you might not trust me. But I have a delivery to make in the city and I must be there by 1 p.m. If you want to ride with me, I promise you I will take you to the first gas station or place with a phone we find on the way.”
What to do? Foolishly trust a complete stranger? Stay in the suffocating heat of the car? Try to walk for many miles with two little children?
Even today, I shudder a little when I remember that I put complete trust in a stranger. Yes, that man lifted my little 4-year-old daughter up into the cab of his huge truck, held my baby daughter while I climbed up and handed her to me. He was a man of his word. At the very first exit on the highway we came to, he spied a gas station and dropped us off at a pay phone.
As I thanked him and offered him cash, he strongly refused. “No, no. I just hope you have someone to call to come get you. Will you be alright?” he asked, “Because I must get my delivery made.”
He left us there in a strange place in a part of the city I had never been. And as he drove away, I realized I didn’t even know his name. I remembered some of the older ladies gathered at our church in the city for fellowship on that particular day. I hopefully dialed the church, relief flooding over me as the church secretary, a friend of mine, answered the phone. She came to our rescue in no time.
She drove us back to the church, where all those dear ladies fussed over us, fed us lunch and a much-needed cool drink of water, and even offered me money for a tow truck. Afterwards, my friend drove us back to where my car sat abandoned, waited for the tow truck to arrive and then took us to our suburban home.
I don’t know if God sent me a real angel that day to help me, but I do know that there were some angelic humans who came to my rescue. One was a stranger - a good Samaritan – and I have often prayed that God blessed that man for what he did that day. The others were my fellow sisters in Christ.
Angels watching over me. To me, that’s what the body of Christ should be and that’s what I must take the opportunity to be – like an angel who ministers to someone in need.