For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go (Psalm 91:11)
A well-known painting that hung in my childhood nursery belongs to one of my earliest memories. An angel guides two children across a ramshackle bridge spanning a turbulent river. As a child, I feared for the boy and girl who did not seem to notice the danger. How easily they could slip! It made me glad that the angel was helping them.
This painting comes to mind because recently I had a close call. Probably not life-threatening, but still. Before I tell you my story, you need to know that I have a history of backing my car into things, something I’m not proud of but has provided fodder for humor.
Once an across-the-street neighbor and I simultaneously backed out of our driveways when Bang, we suddenly found ourselves staring window to window in stunned surprise. Another time, in a nearly empty Carl’s Jr. parking lot, in broad daylight, and in full view of patrons gazing out the window, I somehow steered the back of my car into a vehicle that I swear suddenly rose out of the ground. However, my worst fail came one evening (note that it was dark, no, inky black that night!) when I carefully guided my car’s hiney out of the garage in a, shall we say, fancy maneuver, failing to remember that a friend’s Honda sat parked in our driveway.
So, I do try to be mindful these days. And here is what was odd. For the last several weeks I have been thinking that I back out of my driveway a bit too carelessly and maybe a bit fast, and I really should change my ways. You see, all along our driveway is a high brick wall which completely obscures vision. On the other side is my neighbor’s driveway which she exits facing forward. Not only that, another neighbor’s driveway merges with ours at the street, making it a hazardous juncture. Now mind you, in all these fifteen years of living here, I have never seen either neighbor as I exited. I’m afraid that lulled me into a false sense of safety.
Resolve to Change
So this uneasy feeling continued to nag me until last Saturday. As I left for my first appointment in the morning I thought, “I really, really should start backing out slower. This blind intersection is an accident waiting to happen!”
So I prayed and said, “Lord, you know how bad I am at remembering better habits. I have good intentions, but I forget and just go on autopilot. Yet I really do want to change. Would you please help me remember?!”
Like I said, that was Saturday morning. Fast forward to my afternoon appointment. And yay! I remember!
I back up slowly. I watch vigilantly. I am almost to the merging point. I congratulate myself that I am finally doing this right. Still can’t see. One more touch on the brakes.
Flash! My brick wall neighbor zips by. A flurry in a hurry. Gasp!!! Gulp!!!
She never saw me or even glanced in my direction. Without one last touch to the brakes, I would have arrived a few seconds sooner even at my slowed pace, and we would have collided mightily because of her speed. And if I had backed out the old way, well, the crash could have been very serious.
As I drove to my appointment, I kept saying, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you!” Over and over. I couldn’t seem to find any more coherent words than that for a while.
What just happened?
Was this dramatic near-miss God’s way of imprinting my brain to immediately ingrain a new, safer habit? If so, what a quick and effective answer to my prayer! I am grateful, and yes, lesson learned, Lord!
Also, I have to consider that God was quietly prompting me to change for several weeks. Was he all along preparing the way for a future protection? If so, that’s just astounding. And so wonderful! I’m so glad that I listened in time. What a reminder to heed those quiet prompts from the Holy Spirit, to take him seriously in the most “trivial” things. It could save your life some day!
Then I also wonder, did God send an angel? What prompted me to brake one more time when I was already going so slowly? I am overwhelmed by God’s loving protection over me in that moment.
The next day I saw my neighbor and told her about our near collision. She received my words graciously, and we talked about how we both could be more watchful. It struck me that she kept saying, “I never saw you.”
Perhaps some day when we review our lives with God from a heavenly perspective we will say the same, “I never saw that!” Whether in the physical or spiritual realm, surely God delivers us from near disasters far more often than we know.
Prayer: Lord, as the psalmist says, you truly are familiar with all our ways. You know when we sit and when we rise, our comings and our goings. We praise and thank you for the privilege of living in the shadow of your wings. Amen.