Halo to the angel on my shoulder

Column by Jim Bishop

Why was I spared having a serious accident? A fraction of a second made all the difference between a major “oh, deer” incident and passing the buck, as it were.

It was already dark, a fall-like Sunday evening, still sufficiently warm as I drove home with the top down on the Miata following several tiring but exhilarating hours of work on a special project at the WEMC radio studio in Park View. I was cruising slow and fiddling with the radio while heading west on U.S. 33. Just as I approached the crest of the hill near Weavers Mennonite Church, a full-grown deer leaped from the shadows onto the roadway, moving right to left across my path.

As I reacted to the moving shape in my headlights, a second deer appeared as I hit the brakes. I winced, expecting the collision that didn’t come. I’m still not sure how I missed hitting the second animal.

Fortunately, there were no oncoming vehicles that could have further complicated the frightening situation.

I caught my breath, breathed a prayer of gratitude and crept the rest of the way home. As I told wife Anna what had happened, she reiterated what I’ve heard her say before: “I’m convinced that we have guardian angels watching over us, protecting us from danger, often with us unaware of being in harm’s way.”

It doesn’t mean that the invisible presence of celestial beings makes us immune from devastating experiences. Bad things happen to good people every day, but I believe there are times when divine intervention prevails on our behalf through God’s angelic messengers.

Psalm 91:11-12 reads, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

There may be an intoxicated driver in the car coming towards us with headlights on high beam, and we pass by unscathed. Maybe there’s a poisonous snake in the high grass or wooded area I’m walking through or a sudden, destructive storm erupts in the neighborhood. The ambiguity is, why do some events end tragically and at other times miraculously? Why does a driver walk away unscathed from a bad accident while the passengers are seriously injured or worse?

Several weeks earlier, Anna was headed east on U.S. 33 with our twin grandchildren in tow. Having passed through Hinton, she came up a slight grade and didn’t see a car stopped on the roadway preparing to turn left, and she slammed into the vehicle. Daughter Sara’s SUV that Anna was driving sustained minor front-end damage, while the vehicle she rear-ended was totaled (the driver was taken to the hospital with possible injuries but was OK).

Anna believes that there was a spiritual force that kept the twins that were strapped in car seats from being more than shaken up. It was her first accident in her many years of driving, which added to the emotional impact.

Was divine intervention at work in these situations? I’m convinced that there was. In fact, I’d believe that had there been a different outcome.

Other times, we may entertain angels unawares. Recently, while eating lunch at a local fast food restaurant, an attractive, well-dressed woman approached me and said she had just moved to Harrisonburg, hadn’t yet found a place to live and needed money for something to eat.

Was it a hoax? A scam? Or, to use a redundant phrase, the honest truth?

I gave her the benefit of the doubt, handing her the five dollar bill remaining in my wallet. “God bless you,” she said, and got in the waiting line.

Each time I have an experience like this, I ask if I’ve done the right thing. Is this heeding the biblical injunction: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:2, NIV)?”

I may not hear harp music every day, or always be conscious of a Heavenly Host surrounding my steps, but I take comfort in knowing that I – all of us, in fact – can draw on this invisible means of support.

Jim Bishop is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press.

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