I have recently been thinking about the times in my life when God has undeniably showed up. When I was in seminary, there was an adage that reminded us that if we didn’t feel close to God, then we should go back to a time in our life when we were in the presence of God – and wait there. Because God would meet us there… And during those times that I have had trials – and wondered where God was, I would mentally re-visit a time when there was no mistaking the hand of God on my life. Sure enough, that memory would trigger something that allowed me to re-connect with the Father or His Son.
I have been fortunate lately that I have felt connected to God, but I was challenged a week ago to re-live a time when God’s presence was unusually strong. Thankfully, the memory I had was with Janet and we both shared the experience.
We were returning home from visiting my brothers in Illinois and I was really too tired to be driving. It was dark and Janet was dozing off. I was struggling to stay awake when out of nowhere a green Jeep, with a license plate that read PS9111, blew past us on a deserted two lane road out in the country. It startled Janet and I couldn’t help but think the plate number was a reference to Psalm 91:11. We keep a Bible in the car and so Janet looked it up and read it to me.
It was a verse about safe passage for weary travelers and after reading the verse, we looked up and the Jeep was nowhere in sight… I mean, we didn’t even see tail lights in the distance. Nothing… Nada… Zilch… It was gone as fast as it had approached us from behind and pulled out to pass us.
Janet settled back down to nap and not too many minutes later, I saw red and blue flashing lights in my rearview mirror. Now, I wasn’t speeding or doing anything that was against the law but, nevertheless, I was pulled over by an officer who requested my registration and license. I was livid!
When I asked why I was being stopped, he said that I had been following the car in front of us too closely. With God as my witness, there was no car in front of us – anywhere. Rather than protest and risk getting the officer upset, I told him that I didn’t realize that I had been following anyone “too close.” He went on to tell me that he was concerned for our safety and if the car in front of us had suddenly stopped, we may have been in an accident. Again, there was no car in front of us!
I sat there fuming while he went back to his squad car and wrote me out a warning. No ticket – just a warning, on a blue piece of paper that he left me with when our exchange was over. Janet was now wide awake, I was furious and as I looked down at the paper, I wanted to read what he had written. No name, badge number or other identifying information. In fact, I was so tired I didn’t know what state I was in. But when I looked up, there was no police car in sight – anywhere. We were on a two lane road, in the middle of nowhere, with no roads to turn off and no street lights. And this was the second car that vanished from our sight within 30 minutes.
I was furious the rest of the way. When we arrived home, safely, Janet remarked that she wondered if we had been visited by a guardian angel. I was thinking the same thing. We did arrive home safe and sound, but not the way I would have envisioned. Since then, the printing on the warning faded away to nothing – and I finally disposed of it at least several years ago. But I believe, and so does Janet, that we had a divine encounter, something otherworldly, that had to do with God’s provision and protection for us. Perhaps it was a guardian angel announcing that we would be safe on our drive home. Neither of us really knows.
But one thing is for sure. I was too tired to be driving and I can now see, on hindsight, that we could have been in an accident. This event was the most tangible encounter with God that either of us has ever had. And I am so fortunate that we were both there – otherwise even I would have doubted my recollection of events.
The verse for tonight is, of course, Psalm 91:11-12, the verse that we read after the green Jeep passed us. The psalmist tells us, ” 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.” Remarkable, isn’t it? God sends His angels to guard us and protect us from harm – and I believe that is exactly what happened to us.
My encouragement this evening is that God cares for us and part of the ministry of angels is to worship God and obey His commands – even protecting us in the process. My prayer is that if you ever find yourself doubting the presence of God you will remember a time when His hand was upon you and I guarantee that He will meet you again. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…