Hebrews 13: 1-3 (NIV)
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
We weren’t sure what was best: Try and outrun Hurricane Dennis or change our plans to arrive late in Lansing, Michigan for Dan’s orientation for his Doctoral program. The chaos began the day after our bible study friends in Boca Raton, Florida helped us load our U-Haul truck only to realize the engine needed repairing. With floodwater creeping over our ankles, the U-Haul headquarters sent a tow truck to tow our truck away because the idea of unloading everything was too much to bear. The scheduled time for me to learn how to drive our stick shift Volkswagen Rabbit was now! Dan had me practice in a parking lot and the puddles were as high as the bottom of the floor board! I could barely concentrate on the gears with the frightening rising water and wind that would not let up. After the lesson, our nineteen-foot U-Haul truck was re-delivered and Dan said, “Let’s go!”
With shaking legs and arms and tears running down my cheeks I got into the car and locked my eyes on the U-Haul’s rear lights. It was crazy what we were doing but it seemed equally crazy to stay. The hurricane and been down graded to a tropical storm and our going away party was scheduled to begin in five hours. The thought of friends partying without us only made the sting of leaving friends hurt more. Deep roots in my heart had been planted with our friends who had all gotten married around the same time and we all had our first babies together. I was frozen with sorrow and fear.
The Atlanta Child Murders of 1979-1981 were going on this summer. Twenty-eight children, adolescents and adult African Americans had been found dead. The serial killer had not been found and the city was tense with so many senseless killings and no leads. As we approached Atlanta long after midnight I was aware of the city’s rage and aware of my white skin. I was tired, overly stressed because I never did learn how to find first or second gear and had to literally throw my money into every change bin for all the turnpike driving we did. We had gone as far as our bodies would allow. It became my job to go into each hotel lobby and ask if there was a “turn around” since we were towing a car behind the U-Haul truck. Most of the motels we passed had “No Vacancy” signs and our exhausted bodies were ready to give out. Thankfully, the late night motel manager at the fourth motel said we could have a room and yes, there was a turn around.
Dan drove the truck with our Buick Monarch in tow and I dutifully followed in the Volkswagen with eyes barely able to focus. Suddenly Dan slammed on the brakes and opened the truck door in a panic and shouted, “We’re doomed!” Not just once, but three more times he hollered our fate! If I thought I was shaky at the beginning of the trip, it was nothing with how I now felt with an enraged, scared husband. Ahead, blocking the turn around, was a fenced off area with dug up concrete. He was right. We were doomed. The U-Haul truck and our car were stuck going up a steep grade with no place to go.
Although we had been married almost five years I had never seen my husband cry because of fear. He sat down on the bumper of the car and covered his face and wept. Dan asked me to go see if there was anyone awake in the hallway or office that could come and help us. I walked to the nearest door I could enter and behind me heard a voice. When I looked back there was a short, muscular African American man walking towards Dan. Fear gripped me as I began running towards them. I heard him ask Dan what was wrong. Dan explained that there was no way he could back out of the driveway with our car on the hitch behind the U-Haul truck. The man said, “Let’s try and get it off.”
They went over to the U-Haul truck and the man instructed Dan to unhook the latch holding the U-Haul frame on the towing ball. They each took a separate side and pulled the car off the ball. Dan pulled the truck away from the car. The man then told me to get into the car and put it into neutral so they could turn the car down hill to reconnect it to the truck. It seemed impossible.
Dan later told me that as he pushed with all his might, he could tell he was not moving the car an inch; however, the man seemed to make the car move without effort. They pushed and I steered and eventually it was pointed down hill. The man asked me to get out and Dan and the man lifted the car to the back on the hitch.
Dan shook his hand and said, “Let me give you some money to thank you for your help.” The man shook his head and said, “No, all I ask is that you do something good for someone else.” I ran to get my wallet to give him a twenty-dollar bill but he had disappeared instantly. Our backs had been turned to him less than 20 seconds.
At the corner of the building were two chain link fences and there was no way possible that he could have gotten through or over them. There was no way out and yet, the man was gone. Dan and I looked at one another with wide eyes and no words. Moments later, Dan whispered, “I think that man was an angel.” It was so holy and so outrageous of a thought that we said nothing more about it for many years. Truly, it was a story that took years to tell.
We read Bible stories about angels to our children but did not tell them that angels are real and active. Now that I am a grandmother things have changed. Time is short with my grandchildren and Jesus has a stigma today that wasn’t the same when my children were little.
Recently reading Judith MacNutt’s book, Angels are for Real, has equipped me to believe in angels with more scripture to validate their reality. Dan and I also read John Eldredge’s daily and evening prayer almost everyday and in it we pray to call forth angels to come to our aid. I have found it so sweet with grandchildren who are afraid to fall asleep to tell them that they have their own angel that watches over them.
So was that just a passer-by who helped us in Atlanta so many years ago?
When I ponder many near death experiences over my lifetime am I remiss to not wonder if angels were there to orchestrate life when there should have been death? Take a look at the stranger that extends a strong hand and ponder, “Oh, terrifying friend, where do you really come from?” And, “Who are you asking me to become?”
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 38 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living! bs
Angels. Yep. Surely The Lord is in our midst. Love the paintings. Now I want to paint this weekend. I love the way you give us your heart, Becky. Especially when you write.
Thank you Kelli! I love the way you give your heart to me and to so many others to encourage and affirm. I hope you have so much fun painting this weekend. What will you paint?
Not sure. Maybe some food or wine. Starting a strict elimination diet on Sunday….or maybe I’ll try to paint you. Or an angel. I’m not really a painter, but I want to be.
Becky, this is an entry filled with desperation, fear and hope that I can “feel”. Your words call to mind personal brushes with the eternal and how it leaves you stunned and silent with awe. God is so near us in so many ways…the reminder of His graciousness to us at times of desperation and fear with such elegant grace is so stunning! Thank you for taking me to a place of thanksgiving and awe today. Christine
Dear Christine, thank you for replying. It is easy to forget the desperation in light of the awe of what happened. But you are right to call me back to that because it must truly be in each of our prevailing desperation that angels are summoned to our aid. And seriously, who wants to be desperate? But that is exactly what we were.
Oh my goodness, Christine. Yes….I hate to even remember that feeling of desperation and rather skip to the awe of rescue! We were desperate and in such a place an angel was summoned to help. So amazing!
YES! I just got that book:). And I love her and the prayers from their training. So cool:). Thank you so much for writing about the miraculous and real. Blessings.
I love that book. My husband and I have been reading it out loud to one another. It holds much to ponder!!!!
Love love love
Right back at you Keith!!!
Very well written. Lovely fun Angels.
I love you and am so glad you shared this story. As usual, the writing was compelling and evocative. Powerful.
On a side note : Somehow, before Orion’s birth I had misplaced my recently acquired copy of Angels are for Real. I scoured the house, the car and Emily’s apartment, but couldn’t find it. It was a first class bummer cuz I had read the intro and was eager to dive in. I prayed to find it. Nothing. I thought, no problem, I’ll just order another, but when I asked Jesus I sensed Him saying, “I’m enough for now. If/when I want you to read it, it will turn up. So, I found it today. In Emily’s closet in a bag with baby blankets where I had put it prior to the move. And then I read your story. Isn’t Jesus sweet?
Blessings and joy as you celebrate Abby, Nate and children with dear friends. I’ll be praying for Favor and God’s manifest Presence.
Thank you Annie!!!! We have got to discuss this book together!!!
How wonderful to connect heart to heart with you through your writings. The summer you were leaving Boca we were suddenly, as in a matter of 2 weeks after Pete’s job offer, on our way to Greece. That hurricane was one day away from us as we boarded our plane. By the time we came back in Dec. of the next year you and Dan were long gone. We both had enjoyed our Bible study so much with you. God had big plans for growing me up that year starting with walking pneumonia on our arrival with the 2 kids, who at the time were 4 and 14 months. (I would not recommend a big change like that so fast…) God used the time I spent flat on my back to get my attention and teach me a few important things..
As for angels protecting us, this summer crossing Alligator Alley our boat hitch came undone at 60 MPH. Only angels kept it from flipping the boat and our car. The safety cables kept the trailer attached to the car but allowed it to swing crazily from side to side. Pete thought he surely would wipe out drivers passing us. In the end we both felt stunned and thankful that we miraculously hadn’t been killed or killed anyone else. Only possible explanation was God’s angels holding up the tongue of the hitch and keeping it from hitting the road or our car. That sobered us up for our planned spiritual retreat in Dunedin. What a start! Angels are real blessings!
Loved the FB link re the big adventure with the BMW motorcycles. I signed up for the updates.Dan and John Eldridge must make a really great team…. don’t know who the other 4 are. They looked younger, which could be a good thing. Good idea of Dan’s to take a course ahead of the trip!
Always enjoy your transparent writings! You are so brave to share from your heart! Thank you for your great example. Love, Laura
Dear Laura, your story about Alligator Alley is incredible! So glad that you are both safe!!! It is evident that you are in love with Jesus in the way that you cooperate with Him in all circumstances. I believe I was aware of that sl many years ago when we first met. You and Pete truly are the aroma of Christ to others. You continue to encourage me. Thank you. Love, Becky
Becky, This totally brought back a memory of a similar situation I had in college. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about it since that day. I was exiting the highway during a blizzard and hit some ice. My car bounced off the safety railing and slid down into the ravine. Moments later an older man with a cane was knocking on my window. He helped me out of the car and up the icy embankment. I asked him what he was doing out in this weather and he replied that he was “just taking a walk.” In a blizzard? With a cane? On the highway? He walked me to the overpass where “conveniently” a police car was passing by. As the officer was getting out of the car to talk to me I turned to thank the man for his help and he was GONE! I spun around looking for him, there was no where to go…it was an overpass, a ravine and an exit ramp….It gives me goose bumps just remembering it. I wonder just how many angels we encounter and don’t even realize it?!
Oh my gosh Renee!!! Thank you for taking the time to relate your incredible angel story. Yes! “just taking a walk.” In a blizzard? With a cane? On the highway? He walked me to the overpass where “conveniently” a police car was passing by. As the officer was getting out of the car to talk to me I turned to thank the man for his help and he was GONE! I spun around looking for him, there was no where to go…it was an overpass, a ravine and an exit ramp….” Wow. Grateful you are alive and I miss you!
Beautiful post. Sounds like books I’d enjoy too! I enjoyed your unique Angels!
Thank you for your kindness. I did not know that all four angels would be posted! I need to take time to write the story that goes with each angel!
Your sharing offers so much for us Becky, so much invitation to allow and ponder our own encounters with angels. And to risk telling them. I love your courage, your desire to be honest and open and expose this wild God we follow. I have two of my own angel stories I rarely share. You open a space for me to consider why I keep those stories hidden. Thank you for once again inviting me toward more. I love that about you. Blessings, Valerie
Valerie! What!!!! Oh, it would be wonderful to hear your two angel stories. It doesn’t surprise me that you have those stories as you are a lover of Jesus in all that you do. I am grateful that the spirit works mysteriously to invite us to new and wild things. Blessings to you Valerie!
I had an encounter with what I named as an angel at St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle in the fall of 2003. I’ve only told the story to a couple of people. The experience was so real (I gave her a glass of water-we talked – there were tears) and yet other worldly. It was a 15 minute encounter that marked me. I now have a new book to order and read. Thank you for sharing your angelic art and experience.
It is odd how the speaking of a miracle so dear and priceless causes us to pray and ponder before mentioning very much about it. I love that an angel in St. James remains a reverent story not to be shared lightly. I would love to hear more some time, Annette. I am grateful for that encounter and even hearing a little bit encourages me bountifully.
Such a story….the evidence so tangible that you had an angel-friend with you. Thanks for sharing this Becky, and inviting us to be watchful for angels in our own day to day encounters.
Thank you Tracy. It has been inspiring to hear other tell their “angel story.” Certainly, not spoken often or lightly.
Becky – I love this post! I have often thought of and am finding my heart full of gratitude for many angels, and one in particular – an ‘angel’ who prayed from her heart for my family at a time of difficulty. So very thankful for your words and your heart. Love your writing and the invitation to consider the presence of angels.
Thank you Ellen. I love your writing too and I, also, have been re-considering the presence of angels in our lives. Grateful you can recognize God’s goodness with a praying angel!
Wow! Loved the story, loved the paintings, loved the questions that you left us with – “Where do you really come from? and Who are you asking me to become?” I have a couple moments I can recall that I felt sure were angelic encounters, but as I think about them, I love the 2nd question that moves beyond the initial encounter and the gratitude for just that moment. Who am I to become as a result of this divine encounter…don’t let it be wasted. Thank you, as always, for your thought-provoking stories and the way you connect them to our hearts.
You are so welcome Janet! Thank you for taking the time to reply and ponder….what do such encounters call us to become???
Such a great story containing such fear, mystery and hope. It seems angels when they appear are unlike ourselves …. which is so God of course.. the Holy wholly Other.
Blessings and a sweet fall season to you and Dan. (we me
(we met at Cary’s house in DC a few years ago 😉
Thank you so much for writing. That trip was one of my first trips to begin traveling with Dan more often. Thank you for coming. I still am amazed that Cary cooked and opened her house so generously….but, of course, that is Cary. Thank you for taking the time to reply. This life…holds so much mystery. I loved how you said: “Holy wholly Other!!!” Awesome!