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Encounters with Angels

April 3, 2008

File-9I remember as a kid hearing stories about guardian angels that excited my imagination and vigilantly kept me on the lookout for angels I might “entertain unawares”. As I got older I guess I was tempted to dismiss these notions as perhaps a bit fanciful. But I have a sneaking suspicion that Taya and I may have met a couple angels the other night.

After dropping off our boys at my parents, we were driving home for one last night of sleep in our bed before heading out on a six week spring tour. On our way we hit a deer as we were going 65 miles per hour. It came out of nowhere and there’s no way I could have avoided it, though I swerved hard and nearly ran off the road. The impact rocked our Dodge Caravan and smashed up the front and driver’s side door.

The weeks leading up to our departure for the Spring tour had been filled with several difficulties that had left us feeling a little beat up and discouraged. Saying goodbye to the boys had been hard, but we were faring pretty well thinking the worst was behind us when out of nowhere there came a violent reminder of how fragile life is. Not only were we distraught for ourselves but we felt sick over the fact that we had mortally wounded an innocent creature.

We were a bit dazed when somebody pulled up to our van and came to make sure we were okay. If there are such things as guardian angels who watch over us and minister to our needs, then I think I may know what ours look like. A woman emerged from the car who was as sturdy as she was stout of heart and looked like she might have fit in with the kind of capable people who pioneered this land in it’s infancy. After making sure we were okay, this strong woman of the prairies asked her driving companion, a skinny girl a little rough around the edges whose eyes were as pretty as they were fearless, to get the tire iron out of the back of her car. She intended to finish off the deer to make sure it didn’t suffer.

As my presence of mind slowly began to return I remember thinking I should probably go out and do the unsavory deed instead of her, but I was stunned and frozen in my seat, more than a little horrified at the thought of what she was planning to do. Thankfully, the animal was dead before she could get to it and I was not only grateful that the deed wouldn’t have to be done, but even more so that we would be spared having to see this fearsome woman do it.

She then pulled out her cell phone and said she had the highway department on speed dial. Her friend proceeded to pull an orange reflective cone from the trunk that she put out in the highway to help alert the oncoming motorists of the deer that still lay in the middle of the road. Having got the Highway Department on the phone, the first lady reported the incident and then put me on her phone for the police to take my information. She also made sure I got a report number and told me what I would need to do for my insurance company. We thanked her and I didn’t know what else to do but lamely give her a CD which I happened to have in my backpack. She thanked me and they were on their way.

We limped our van back home and as the shock began to wear off it occurred to us how bizarre our encounter was with these women. They both struck us as a little quirky and surreal. Granted it could have been because we were in shock, but still – what are the odds of an unlikely couple of ladies stopping to help us immediately after our accident who had the highway department on speed dial, a reflective traffic cone in the trunk, the will to dispatch a large animal, and who left us with parting instructions on insurance procedures before whisking away into the night. We never even had a chance to get their names. Their care for our needs, the suffering animal, and also the other motorists was executed with such swift precision!

If there are such incidents of encountering angels, this certainly could qualify as a case study. 

The worst part of the accident was how it triggered in Taya the awful memory of an accident that she witnessed a few years ago when the car in front of her hit a deer then ran off the road hitting a tree in the ditch. The car was on fire when Taya, a certified first responder, went to the vehicle and pulled a little girl from the backseat. By that time others arrived and were trying to get the grandmother and the other granddaughter who had both died on impact out of the car, but they were unable to do so before the car’s engine exploded and the vehicle burst into flames. Taya held the little girl and comforted her as only Taya can do before the ambulance arrived. 

As I thought about it, it occurred to me that for that little girl, Taya may always be remembered to her as the angel who pulled her out of a burning car and who spoke peace and comfort during one of the scariest moments of her life.

And that’s something worth thinking about. Do angels watch over us? I’m persuaded to believe they do. But I also suspect that God’s care more often than not comes to us through other human beings willing to reach out in somebody’s time of need. Were those two quirky ladies our guardian angels? Or were they just kind people who were willing to make themselves available to us in our distress? Is my wife Taya an angel? Well of course I think she is, but I’m a little biased. Whether there are supernatural instances of human encounters with angelic beings is hard to say, but that God would supernaturally send us help in the form of another human being is indisputable. 

Maybe each of us will have an opportunity to be a guardian angel to someone in need. I pray heaven help us to recognize those moments for what they are and give us the courage to stop and play our part.

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