It’s an especially cold and windy winter’s day as Rachel starts out on her way to the skating rink across town. A heavy dusty snow is coming out of the overcast sky, falling almost sideways in the strong winds. The extreme cold freezes even the briny solution the city uses on the roads. The car, a Saturn Ion which has been borrowed from her grandmother for the winter, shudders in the gusting wind. Rachel is running a little behind schedule and, gallingly, was required to promise her dad that she’d drive carefully before she could leave.
With the antilock brakes clicking like cards in the spokes of a bicycle wheel, she slides through an intersection, past a red light. Luckily no one is coming cross-ways. Almost missing it, she fishtails a bit as she crosses to the I-94 on-ramp. “This is my last chance to call the whole thing off,” she thinks. As she enters the highway, she prays; “Please, Lord, don’t let me hit anyone. Don’t let anyone hit me. And don’t let me hit anything.”
On the ethereal plane, Gabriel comes to Michael with a look of alarm on his face. “What’s wrong?” Michael wonders. It’s not often that things happening on Monday require help from the Archangel of Sunday. Gabe is good at what he does, he thinks, and knows when he’s in over his head. This must be bad.
“Mike, I have a problem,” Gabriel says. “Rachel is headed for trouble and I haven’t been able to stop it.” Of course, he doesn’t use ‘Rachel’ when passing on this alarm. He uses her secret name, the one he and the other angels have heard Jesus use when talking to God about her.
Michael realizes that the situation must be dire when he hears Gabriel use her special name. It implies God himself may be needed to intervene on this one. “Tell me about it,” Michael says quickly.
Gabriel is clearly exasperated; his normally shimmering white robes appear to have lost some of their luster, and his eyes are open wide with alarm as he lays out the details of the problem. “She’s headed out on the highway in bad weather. It’s negative eleven, with a wind chill of almost negative fifty. It’s snowing sideways! The road is covered in black ice. I’m afraid of what might happen.”
“How could you let things get this far,” Michael blurts out. “Didn’t you try to stop her?”
“I’ve done everything I’m allowed to do,” Gabriel replies, his voice rising defensively as he crosses his arms and his feathers ruffle. He hikes up his belt of truth, takes a breath to calm himself and lowers his voice. “You know I wouldn’t come to you without trying everything in the book. Yet she’s pulling onto the on-ramp right now.”
“Didn’t you give her a sense of foreboding?”
“Yes.” Gabriel replies, spreading his hands and wings out wide in an expression of helplessness. “It didn’t work,” he continues, “You know how strong her will is, Mike.” Gabriel finishes, looking straight at him.
Michael nods and rolls his eyes a bit in a knowing manner. Of course, he’s had dealings with Rachel as well. “Just try to get her to Sunday School,” he thinks. But this is much more serious. “Didn’t you show her how slippery it is?” he asks, with growing alarm. “All you’d need to do is let her slide through an intersection or two when no one is coming. That’s a pretty safe and effective deterrent.”
“She’s got the car with ABS.” Gabriel says flatly.
“ABS!” Michael exclaims, drawing out the letters as if each one is a word in and of itself. It come out sounding like “Aye-bee-ess!” Unconsciously, he adjusts his gold encrusted helmet. “That’s made so many of them overconfident!” He looks around a bit, grasping for ideas. “Why didn’t you start earlier and just make her late? She usually just gives up when she’s late!”
Gabriel looks down helplessly, his light dimming even further. He pokes a few holes in the cloud at his feet with his spear. “Yes, but … it was different this time.”
Gabriel manages to shrug despite his rigid breastplate. “Well … I think there may be a boy involved,” he says as if it explains everything. And, in a way, it does. There is a moment of silence between them as they avoid each other’s gaze. Gabriel appears to be looking at the buckle on his sandal.
“Where is her father in all this,” Michael asks sadly.
“At home, fixing lunch. He’s clueless,” Gabriel replies, fidgeting with his shield.
“Gabe,” Michael reaches out to put a hand on his shoulder. “Did her father pray for her this morning?”
“Well …” Gabriel is reluctant to say. He looks around helplessly, and finally admits, “the cat interrupted him.” Michael nods his understanding and sighs. Gabriel, trying to sound more hopeful than he really is, continues, “Actually, there’s been a lot of prayer for her lately from other people, even one or two new voices.”
“Let’s hope it’s enough,” Michael says with no expression on his face at all.
Before Michael can finish, silent thunder peals across the sky and God makes himself manifest before them. Light fills their realm and they fall to their knees.
“MICHAEL,” booms the voice of God, like a trumpet. “Take a contingent of angels and slow down everyone on the highway behind her!”
“Of course,” Michael thinks, “He knows who and what we’re talking about.” With a shout heard across the heavenly realms, Michael calls more than he needs and deploys them from the University drive exit all the way back to Dilworth. For no reason at all, every driver for miles eases up on the gas as they enter the city, and begin to coast.
“GABRIEL,” booms the Lord of Hosts again; “Take everyone you need to speed things up a bit in front of her. I’m going to need a lot of room here.”
With a triumphant yell, Gabriel, too, calls for more than he needs. His robes brighten back to their usual dazzling white. Looking like a time lapse film of a coming thunder storm, countless angels jump at his commands and roll across the heavens. This is just the kind of mobilization he’d been hoping for. Angels rush from the heavenly realm to cars from the I-29 overpass on into West Fargo, giving drivers a sense of confidence and well-being. Not knowing exactly why, and suddenly feeling quite safe for some unknown reason, each driver speeds up a bit. Rachel marvels that she’s the only car on the highway in her area.
Without needing a direct command, the King of King’s personal battalion leaps into action. Not knowing exactly what’s going to happen, they invisibly deploy themselves on both sides of the West bound lane from Rachel’s location through to the overpass. Like snow snakes, some rush across the surface of the road, helping the wind to clear off rocks, chunks of ice, anything that might cause a swerving car to flip. The rest of them prepare to stand firm.
Taking complete authority over her life at this moment – authority He’s had since she gave her life to Him and was baptized – He silently cautions her to slow down. She first covers the brake with her foot, and then taps lightly. This doesn’t diminish her speed one bit. Rachel begins to be concerned. The rear end of the car begins to drift out of alignment with the front, sliding to the right, starting what would likely turn into a spin. Still hoping to regain control, she turns the wheel into the slide with no effect. It’s at this point that she realizes she’s probably broken her promise to her dad.
God deploys his honor guard directly to the car itself. They fill it, and cluster around the bumpers, the front, back and sides. They brace and strain against the very laws of motion. The laws hold true at first, and after just a moment, they begin to bend. Jehovah Jira places his hand on the roof of the car as it turns broadside, going down the road at 40 miles an hour, holding it to the road.
The car completes a 180-degree rotation as it crosses from the center lane to the left lane and drifts into the shoulder. Careening backwards, it slams into the median broadside. Angels on the passenger side of the car crush into the angels lining the concrete median, sliding past each other as the car scrapes along the barrier. Their invulnerable bodies give with the impact with feathers flying invisibly from the force of the collision.
Inside the car, it is so full of angels, their incorporeal bodies cushion Rachel’s lurch to her right. Her hat flies off her head, smacking into the passenger window before falling limply to the seat. The car comes to a rest. Only then does it become apparent to the angels in the car that God has had his hand on her neck and shoulders the whole time.
Traffic control is problematic for the Lord of Hosts, few drivers have given Him authority over their lives. Nevertheless, cars now easily change lanes and pass by on the far right rather than crashing into the wreck of the now reversed Saturn Ion.
Rachel sits in the car, her hands covering her face. “If I don’t look,” she thinks, “the crash isn’t real.” She is uninjured but shaken badly. Her first sensation is that her head is cold. She looks at her hat in the seat next to her.
By this time, one of Michael’s most compassionate angels has taken corporeal form. Only the angels notice her appear out of thin air, lightly settle to the ground, and walk up to the car. She taps on Rachel’s window and asks, “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” Rachel replies miserably. She gets out of her car. They hug. The angel makes a show of calling the police just as a Highway Patrol officer pulls over to see what has happened. To him, as he walks up, it looks like there is nobody injured and he is relieved.
Officer JJ is a trained professional and takes control with a practiced authority; “Let’s get you turned around, Miss. I’ll follow you off the highway and we’ll see what we can do to sort this out.” Unbelievably, the Saturn is still drivable. JJ redirects traffic as Rachel gets into the Saturn, turns it around and heads down the road to the next exit, with the highway patrol following closely. Nether Rachel, nor the patrolman notice as Gabriel’s angel slowly fades from view as she rises into the air and returns to the spiritual realm.
Rachel meets up with the officer again at a gas station parking lot right off the main road to assess damage. “There’s no need to call a tow truck. You can drive it home if you like,” he assures her. More sternly, he says “and slow down! There’s a lot of traffic out here and nobody else seems to be having any trouble. You need to be more careful.”
Rachel thinks this is unnecessary, and not entirely honest. “I bet he’s really busy today dealing with weather related traffic issues,” she says to herself. She limps the car home thinking of all the reasons she shouldn’t have set out that day, all the hints she ignored. “Next time, maybe I should listen to myself a little more closely,” she thinks as she pulls into her driveway. And she ponders these events in her heart.
Scot Sorrells 2018