Angels in Plain Clothes
“He will give his angels charge of you and on their
hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
Sometimes angels have white wings, golden halos and shimmery, flowing robes. Sometimes they are missing teeth and look like they could kill your mother. Sometimes they come in the form of a tattooed, dark looking teen with multiple piercings. I am convinced that they walk among us everyday, intervening in times of danger and saving us from ourselves. My earliest awareness of God’s communication and intervention in my life came in the form of such unusual angels.
My first experience with one such angel took place nearly twenty years ago. It was a scorching hot, summer afternoon in New Orleans. Liquid mirages arose from the hot pavement in the distance. The tar in the streets was as pliable as bubble gum due to the extreme temperatures. I had dropped my younger brother off at work, and had decided to take a shortcut home. You see, my aging poodle was perched in the black bucket seat of my Pinto. Despite the air conditioner’s best efforts, the dog still panted feverishly. I turned down Jackson Avenue to get in line for the ferry boat, which would zip me across the Mississippi River, and bring me a few short minutes from my home in Gretna. While waiting in line for the vehicle ferry, my old 1977 hatchback died and refused to be resurrected.
Jackson Avenue was a poor, high crime area of town. What was I thinking? Why hadn’t I just taken the dependable bridge as I always had? As I attempted to crank the car’s starter again and again, my heart raced within my chest. What was I going to do? (This was long before the age of cell phones.) I had a shiny, new quarter in my purse, but there were no pay phones in sight.
As the ferryboat neared the dock and roared its horn, car engines began to growl around me. The line of vehicles started to inch toward the platform, but my car was going nowhere. Several workmen in a truck behind me honked wildly and cursed at me for blocking the line. I was petrified.
Suddenly, in my side mirror, I could see a very large man with a wrestler’s physique and shimmering, gold teeth approaching my car. “I’m going to die,” I thought to myself. He rapped his knuckle firmly against my window. I trembled and shook my head to indicate to him that I was not about to roll down my window. He said, “Ma’am, would you like me to push you to the side of the road, so that these cars can get around you?” “Yes,” I shouted through the airtight pane. He instructed me to put the car into neutral and to take my foot off of the brake. With his impressive muscles, he single handedly pushed me to the curb. I was so relieved to no longer be the butt of harsh words from the other drivers, but I wondered how I was going to get home.
Again, the burly man came to my window, and told me that it was o.k. to get out. I felt myself roasting like a chicken in the vehicle’s steamy interior. I still felt a bit skeptical about his intentions, but I whispered a silent prayer, scooped up my dog and purse and exited the car. Since I was very unfamiliar with the neighborhood, I had no choice but to put my trust in this beautiful stranger. I got to the sidewalk and looked around for the fellow. I could see him approaching a raised, dilapidated, shotgun home nearby.
A woman wearing a cream colored, well worn, terry bathrobe and slippers came to the door. After a short conversation with the man, she went back into her home, leaving the front door ajar. She soon reappeared pulling a telephone attached to a long cord onto her front porch. The man signaled me to come closer, and told me that I could use the woman’s phone. I thanked her for her kindness, and dialed my parents’ home number. As I dialed, I glanced at the poor woman. She was now smoking a cigarette. I could see that she was missing some of her front teeth. Her appearance made me sad. It made me feel guilty for what I had, and what she had not. We came from two different worlds, though we lived only twenty minutes apart by car. She probably didn’t even own a car. This woman did not know me from Adam, and yet was kind to me, a total stranger.
With help on the way, I walked back to my car, holding my dog under one arm and clutching my purse tightly under the other. I quickly scanned the street, looking for the gentleman who had procured the use of the phone for me, but he was nowhere to be found. Astonished, confused and ever so grateful, I climbed back into my little, orange car and thanked God for this mysterious stranger. On this day, I learned firsthand, “One should never judge a book by its cover.”
If you enjoyed this angel story and would like to read more, you may enjoy “God Messaging…Will You Accept His Friend Request?” Please check it out. May God send you His angels to guide you in all of your ways.