In November of 1992, my best friend’s grandfather, who raised him, passed away. Paul and I were both in the Marine Corps at the time and Paul was training in Norway. (A plug for the Marines: When something like this happens, if at all possible, they will move mountains to get a Marine back to his family.) It turned out that the earliest flight he could catch would put him into Charleston, SC at 6 a.m. the next morning. Paul’s wife, Jalinda called me at 10 p.m. wondering what to do. I received permission from my superiors to drive her the 6 hours to Charleston to pick him up so he could then drive to up-state New York for the funeral. We left at about 11 p.m. from our home in North Carolina and drove straight to Charleston. As we left, we asked God to go with us and protect us on the all night trip and to also be with Paul as he was flying back from Norway.
On the outskirts of Charleston, there is a two-lane bridge that resembles a big McDonalds sign. It is so long in fact that there is a little traffic island between the two humps of the M. As we were crossing the first hump, we realized that we had a flat tire. It was about 5 a.m. and nobody was on the road. We pulled off to the side of the road when we reached the island. I got out and asked Jalinda where the jack was – it wasn’t with the tire. She didn’t know and we spent the next 15 minutes looking for it without a flashlight. We didn’t notice an old white van pull in behind us. An older gentleman got out and asked us if we needed help. We thanked him and said that we couldn’t find the jack. He went into his van, got a flashlight and a jack and proceeded to change the tire for us. All the while asking us about our trip and the reason for it etc. When he was done, we offered to pay him but he refused and told us to have a safe trip back to North Carolina and express his sympathy to Paul. We got into our car and as I was looking to see if it was safe to pull onto the bridge, I noticed the van wasn’t there. We could see the bridge in both directions and the van wasn’t on the road. The bridge was so long that we should have been able to see it in either direction. There wasn’t anywhere else that the van could have gone. It just disappeared.
We both were speechless. We both somehow knew that we had just been helped by an angel but we couldn’t quite understand it. We just sat in silence for the rest of the trip trying to process what we had just seen. We got to the base just before Paul landed. We picked him up and drove back the 6 hours on his little donut spare. Paul and I always talked about God, and this trip was no different. I shared with him our experience on the bridge. He shared with me his experiences getting out of Norway. He was in a remote mountain base and had to be flown by helicopter to an base so he could catch an Air Force cargo run to the states. We tried to come up with different reasons why we didn’t see the van leave. I went over and over in my mind where the van could have been. We pondered the exact timings of the different phone calls and flights to get Paul home. We realized that this whole trip, from him being able to get out of Norway with such short notice, to our trip to South Carolina and eventually his trip home was all super-natural. We knew that somehow, somewhere, we were being assisted by God’s angels.
Hebrews 1:10 says, “God calls his angels ‘messengers swift as the wind, and servants made of flaming fire.'” and then in verse 14, “But angels are only servants. They are spirits sent from God to care for those who will receive salvation.” God sends His angels to minister to us. The Apostle Paul was encouraged by an angel. Peter was miraculously delivered by an angel. An angel spoke to Abraham and Sarah and promised them a child. David acknowledged that he had been protected and delivered by angels. Jesus, on at least two recorded occasions, was strengthened by angels (Mat 4:11, Luke 22:43).
I am just glad angels know how to change flat tires.