I BELIEVE IN ANGELS
I have thought a great deal lately about faith. Why can some people believe in something that is not seen with our physical eyes, hear a voice that is not heard by our ears, trust with their life a force that by all physical accounts does not exist? Yet, this has been the case for over two thousand years. Millions have given their life for such a force that they believe so strongly exists.
Count me as one who believes. I am not sure why I find this so easy. There are some that would say it is because I am simple minded; easily swayed. Maybe that makes a good argument. However, when you consider that so many have died, would you not consider that there must be more? Pride is the main reason that so many are unable to believe. Perhaps they consider themselves so intelligent or perhaps it is insecurity that results in the need to appear so intelligent. The label “atheist” is worn by many for that reason, I feel.
There have been so many occurrences in my life to more than convince the skeptic. Here is just one.
The 1999 Cape-Verde hurricane came from Africa with tremendous force when it hit the U.S. causing one of the largest evacuations ever recorded. My husband and I were on our way to visit our home in the Bahamas. The storm was forecasted to hit Florida so we were going to stay at our home out of harm’s way, we thought. Leaving our home in Wilmington, N.C., we anxiously left there with heavy hearts. We arrived in Daytona Beach for a private flight the next day to our beloved home. Floyd surprised everyone by hitting the Bahamas with such devastation that we were told that not a single home remained standing on our beloved island of Abaco. As we deliberated over what to do, we decided to visit a friend’s restaurant in Tarpon Springs, Florida. When in doubt, eat something wonderful, right? I will never forget the drive back to our hotel as word of mass evacuation from Florida thru the Mid-Atlantic States was broadcasted over the radio. There we were going back toward Daytona as thousands were lining the interstate heading away. People were yelling at us to turn around. “You are going the wrong way!” Their shouts were good natured considering the terror that we were about to face but in our sublime “brilliance” we were not too worried. It didn’t matter to us that we were just about the only car heading due East while the rest of Florida was panicking to be delivered from that area. The forecast now was that the massive spinning path of destruction was headed directly for us. The plan was to ride out the storm and then fly over to the devastation awaiting us in our island paradise.
A second night was spent in Daytona as the winds increased and the surf became mountains of swirling waters. What happened next was a complete surprise. The storm skirted Florida and headed directly into the dark waters of Cape Fear, N.C. This was the location of our other home. The one that we had innocently left two days earlier with no idea that one of the largest storms ever recorded was about to do mischief in the Wilmington area. When we awakened the second morning of our forced stay in the hotel, we were amazed to hear that the winds had not been as horrible as anticipated. The fear that night as the few patrons huddled by the hotel television will never be forgotten by the about twenty people who “sweated out” the night.
Coffee by the black box of shocking news was swallowed with the grim reminder that God is in control. All of our plans were about to be shaken for you see, the storm had not only devastated Abaco, Bahamas but Wilmington, N.C. Did we even have one home still standing? My husband and I looked at each other in shock. Eventually, I was able to find a small local plane headed to the Bahamas. I was going to drive back to N.C. My fears were with my husband who was headed for what? Who knew how terrible the news that awaited him might be? Was our beautiful island home devastated? We kissed goodbye and I set out in my car for Wilmington. The storm was lashing that area as I drove directly into hell.
I remember turning off I-95 and listening in amazement as I heard the news that the devastation in the middle of N.C. was totally unplanned. Still, I convinced myself as I drove that things could not be “that” bad. The Highway Patrol cautioned me that I was in danger and should turn back but I seemed to be unable to listen. There was an overwhelming feeling that I had to reach my home. The rest of the story will shock those who know me now because it is so fool hardy. Please take this as a voice of caution. Should you ever find yourself alone in an area just hit by a major hurricane, listen to the voice of reason and turn around for a day or two. Still, I continued down the flooded roads in a place that I barely recognized.
Each road brought another road block with grim faced enforcers telling me to find a place of safety for a few days. I continued on in my trance-like state. Down flooded roads that ended in another block until the light of day was almost gone. Now what? I did not know the area where I found myself. With the small amount of light that remained, I knew that I must find a hotel. Stopping at a convenience store, I asked if there could be a hotel in this isolated and devastated area. The needle on my gas was almost on empty. Truly, I must have been in shock. The store where I stopped did sell gas but I was told that it could run out at any moment by a gentleman eagerly pumping. I tried to hurry the slow machine but it took time to fill my tank but it did fill. When I asked about the possibility of a room, I noticed that people looked at me in pity.
“Lady, I don’t think that you are going to like this place but it is all that we have.” The man giving me directions would not look me in the eye. What was going on now? I followed his directions until I came upon a dilapidated structure. The parking lot was filled with old cars and a “boom box” gyrated music as people danced around before me. This was not acceptable.
“What is going on?” I called to a group of young people who seemed to also be in shock or maybe it was some sort of substance instead.
“A hurricane party!” A voice slurred back to me. The danger light finally was going off in my head. I entered the lobby to see a foreign man smile from behind a bullet proof glass. He happily told me that there weren’t any room.
“Please, I am desperate. There must be something. Please.”
His smile told me that there was but I would be paying dearly for this beautiful experience. He offered me the only remaining suite. I took it. My hands were shaking as he deposited the key into my white, sweaty palm.
In a haze, I walked toward the room as I looked at my beautiful, shinning car amid the heaps of old worn out vehicles. It occurred to me that I would be fortunate if I had tires to greet me but what else was I to do? Entering the room, I was shocked at the unkept state of my home for the night. It was pretty bad. Everything was dingy. The sheets looked as though they had indeed been washed but it was not yesterday. The dead-bolt on the door had been pried off. I had a lock remaining but it was not much. I pushed the abused sofa in front of the door. It would be impossible for anyone to enter since it was now wedged in the corner. My “suite” was named so because it contained a Jacuzzi tub which my foot would not be touching never mind the rest of me. My shower was filthy. I took the fastest shower of my life with at least a fresh bar of soap.
I will never forget that night. Suddenly, I was filled with peace; supernatural peace. Praying I knew that my God was right there beside me. A plan developed in my mind. I listened to every station that I could find. I mapped out the details which they delivered. My map was a mess of lines and configurations as closed roads were announced. Then, I thanked Jesus for being with me. Without a doubt, I knew that I would be fine. There was even a feeling that tomorrow night, I would be in my own bed. I smiled as I turned the light out.
The next morning, I listened again to each station with details of closings and flooding. I walked outside to sunshine and calmness. No birds greeted me but there was beautiful sunshine and blue skies; Carolina Blue skies. My car was untouched. I carried my map as a badge of courage as I entered the sanctuary of my car. The once beautiful life which my husband and I shared was radiant. As I decided which way I should head, for some reason unknown to me, I drove past the entrance to the hotel. There stood a man. He was very handsome in clean jeans and a white shirt. He seemed brilliant. His sandals seemed out of place in all of the nasty waters. I pulled right in front of him and stopped. He looked directly at me with a smile. It was as though he had been waiting.
“Good morning. You headed for Wilmington.”
I could only nod “yes.” I wasn’t sure if he saw my head move but he did. Again, he smiled. “I want you to listen carefully to me. Throw your map away.” How did he know that I had a map? It was crumpled on my seat from overuse. Still, I reasoned that anyone would have a map under these conditions.
His look was calm. He smiled as he instructed me how I should proceed.
“No matter what you hear, follow my instructions and you will arrive home safely. Do you understand?” I did understand. I wanted to yell, “Are you an angel?” I knew the answer.
I smiled and waved. I was on my way. Unafraid, I completed his directions as I watched church steeples float pass me as I crossed roads where no one else ventured. I was in a hell of my own making. The radio stated that the waters had not yet crested but would soon. I drove forward. Miles later, I was so close to Wilmington but then I saw it. My hands violently shook as I realized that up ahead, a road block waited. Now what? The waters were set to crest soon. Already the area where I found myself was severely flooded but in my mind, I saw my angel. As I approached the road block, I saw that someone had moved it. There was just enough room for me to squeeze through. I smiled.
Finally, I was almost there. As I approached the final barrier, another road block. The highway patrolman told me that only people who lived on the island could enter. Did I have proof that I was a resident? I smiled as I handed him my license. He nodded and motioned me through.
As I entered my driveway, I literally got out of the car, dropped to my knees and prayed. The only thing out of place was a garbage can that had been blown into the street. There were a few limbs and leaves but it was heaven to me. My legs were shaking as I entered.
Immediately, I phoned my husband. No phone lines were available. The shaking of the hands started afresh.
After the longest, hottest shower in my history, I felt clean. I waited. All through the night, I prayed for his safety. The next morning, the call which I prayed for came through. Someone had a satellite phone and he was able to reach me but had to talk quickly because there was a line waiting to use the same phone of one of our friends.
“The devastation is massive. Trees down everywhere. It will take years to clean all of this. Are you sitting down?” It must be horrible.
I sat down; looking at my hands, again the shaking. I nodded that I was ready. Almost on cue, he answered as though he had seen my head shake. “Our house it fine. Hardly a branch was destroyed. Around us though, it is really bad. Everyone is coming to our house for a shower. The mess of all of the showers would repulse you but I will get it cleaned up. Just glad that we can offer the locals a cold shower. Love you.” He was gone.
That man dressed in sandals and a white shirt was my angel. Now, maybe he was not sent directly from God or maybe he was. You see, there are angels of every description living amongst us. I have known others; have you?