Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Angel in Disguise?

What can be worse than blowing a tire on a dark stretch of interstate at 2 A.M.?

Plenty can, but to two weary women traveling alone with no civilization in sight, over 100 miles away from completing our 1,480-mile round-trip journey, the thump-thump-thump of shredded tread was not a welcome sound.

Blog.1As I slowed the car to a crawl, I scolded myself for shrugging off every past opportunity to learn how to change a tire. Every news article I’d read about distracted drivers plowing into disabled vehicles parked on the shoulder flashed through my mind.

My choice was clear to me. I ignored everything my husband and automotive-loving son had told me about the hazards of driving on tire rims, and I forced the hobbling car several miles onward to the next exit. Risking damage to my vehicle seemed smarter than risking our lives.

My friend Bambi agreed.

We stopped at a closed gas station—the only building around--under what must have been one of three lights in the entire county, judging from the darkness surrounding us. After scanning the parking lot perimeter for boogey men and locking my car door, I fished my AAA card from my purse, but before I could dial roadside assistance, Bambi insisted we could handle the situation ourselves.

She’d apparently paid attention when her husband taught her how to change a flat.

Blog.2At her urging, we unloaded our luggage from the hatch, dragged out the spare tire and tools, jacked the car up (after repeated attempts), and set to work loosening lug nuts--or at least trying to. Making little progress, we tugged at, kicked, and even stood on the tool designed to loosen them. Do car manufacturer weld lug nuts on?

After a significant struggle and working up a sweat, we wrestled the lug nuts and hubcaps off only to discover the tire refused to separate from the car. No matter how we pulled or pushed, it wouldn’t budge.

I learned a new law of the universe that night: defeat gains strength when exhaustion holds its hand.

Thanking God for cell reception in this remote location (and praising myself for having renewed my AAA subscription), I finally dialed for help. A cheerful representative who apparently doesn’t need to sleep at night promised help would arrive, but not for another hour, at least. I craved my bed. With hope as deflated as my demolished tire, I answered her many questions to arrange a dispatch, but before we completed the call, a beat-up red pickup truck rolled out of the darkness and parked beside us. Before I could stop her, Bambi accepted the unkempt driver’s offer to help. My expression must have revealed my concern because she handed me the tire iron. A weapon of defense?

Sharing my apprehension, the AAA rep promised to remain on the line until she knew we were safe. Predicting tomorrow’s headline, “Women Slain at Rural Gas Station,” I immediately relayed this man’s physical and vehicle descriptions to her. If Bambi and I died that night, at least police would have a good lead in finding the murderer, who fetched a hammer from the bed of his truck. My heart raced, and I clenched the tire iron tighter, monitoring his every move.

While I considered where to aim to deliver the most effective blow when he attacked, he slid under the car and set to work. Before I blinked twice, he’d knocked the tire loose and installed the spare. Bambi had reloaded several pieces of luggage before I reminded my tongue to say, “Thank you.”

Turns out the man I’d deemed a serial killer worked as the property’s night security. My overactive imagination, a symptom plaguing writers, had assessed this man’s character and plugged him into an unsavory category based upon his physical appearance alone. Of course, his lack of uniform assisted my prejudice, yet as I looked into our rescuer’s eyes for the first time, I stood convicted of misjudging a man with a good heart.

Of course safety is a concern in today’s society, but how many kind souls do I shun with suspicion? How many friendly folks do I mistake for having ill intentions? How many angels in disguise do I fail to entertain because of fear?

If Jesus had rolled up in disheveled attire driving that red jalopy, would I have treated him with the same trepidation?

Having a healthy dose of caution is wise, but having faith feels better. I must remember good people come dressed in every style. They hail from every walk of life. They sometimes roll out of darkness to come to our rescue.

How do you balance trust and fear? Have you ever misjudged someone based upon a faulty first impression? Have you received blessings from an unlikely source? Let’s chat about it below!


  1. Your account, so well-written, Diana, reminded me of a woman profiled in the book, Same Kind of Different As Me. In her elderly years, she served food to the homeless in a rough section of a major city. When this petite woman was asked if she was afraid, she simply said, "My Jesus is with me. When He's done with me, then He's done with me."

    I remember my mother sharing a similar thought with me. "Honey, I'm indestructible until the Lord's done with me."

    Still, those kind of comments beg the question: Do we purposely walk into the middle of the street, knowing we might very well be hit?"

    I think we can only answer that as individuals before the Lord. What may seem crazy to one person may be God's will to another.

    I often get asked by other women: "How can you allow your daughter to serve clear around the world?"

    Well, for one thing, it's not my call. She's a grown woman and under God's management. She serves Him, not me.

    What I think they are really saying is, "How do you deal with your feelings?"

    I give them over to God. Sometimes multiple times a day. Her faith venture is also mine.

    And He purposes to grow ALL His children.

  2. This is the Bambi, Whom she so lovingly refers to. LOL, Diana failed to mention a few things in this article, some of which I'm sure she will appreciate me not mentioning. ;) First of which, how much we struggled to get those lug nuts off, including some of her infamous Karate moves that had me laughing hysterically. How exhausted we were, that we were laughing and crying at the same time. How after the exhaustive struggle to get the lug nuts off we couldn't get the tire to budge, even after more Karate moves, LOL. I believe it was glued on. We finally submitted to defeat and decided to do what we should have done from the beginning, we held hands and prayed out loud to Our wonderful Lord and savior. We said Lord we know that you sent us on this mission trip, we're exhausted and just.... want.... to..... get.... HOME, we need your help. Please help us get this tire off. It wasn't 5 min. later and Bear pulled up, which is the name of the wonderful angel in disguise that Diana told you about. I knew instantly that he was gonna help us, I had no reservations at all. I knew the Lord would have put a fear in me if I needed to be leary of him. I could see the terror in Diana's eye's so I gave her the tire iron to whack him in the head if need be. Bear pulled and tugged and kicked at that tire also, just like we did, I almost gave up, but then he grabbed a small sledge hammer, crawled under the car and hammered at the tire from behind. After a few hard hits he finally knocked it loose. We were never so happy. He even put the spare on for us and tightened the lug nuts. After giving him our grateful hugs and telling him he's our Angel, we were off, at a snails pace because the spare doughnut was so small, but we were finally heading home. The Lord delivered us. Praise our almighty Saviour!!!

  3. Such a scary situation. I don't blame you, Diana, for being frightened. I've been there - stuck on the side of the road at age 16 in the middle of a desert landscape - out of gas. My new husband (yes, we were both children) walked off into the night seeking help (no cell phones back then), cautioning me to keep the doors locked. Well, I had no intention of unlocking them, even when a couple of fellas pulled up behind me and siphoned gas from their own tank into mine. I inched my window down enough to whisper a "thank you," and high-tailed it down the road, looking for my honey. I'm so grateful for those men, and so aware of how differently that story could've played out. Yes, I believe God does send us angels in disguise, and sometimes I think He tests our faith in those situations. Lord help me to recognize YOU in your messengers, and receive Your blessings with grace!

  4. Oh, my goodness, you poor ladies! That had to be terrifying! I'm so glad you both turned out okay. And what a great message to not judge on appearances, though I would've been right with you, sister!

    Bambi, so good to meet you!

  5. […] Friends as she too experienced a rather frightening car ride recently. You can read her post titled Angels in Disguise […]

  6. Thank you, Mon Ange. So glad you dropped by! :-)

  7. Eileen, I've read that book, and it's time to read it again. What an incredible story! Yes, the Lord sometimes calls us to serve in ways that may seem crazy to others, but we can never fail when we trust in and follow Him. I understand your journey with your daughter's travels. All four of my children have served on mission trips. My youngest son lived in India and Africa for extended times, and yes, sometimes I found the need to hand my concerns over to God multiple times a day. Like yours, my faith grew as well as my son's. I'll keep you, your daughter, and the many lives she'll touch while she's abroad in my prayers. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Bambi, thank you for adding the most important part of our experience that night--our answered prayer!!! I will never forget our time together on that trip. The Lord was with us every minute and every mile, and the blessings from it all continue to grow. So honored to be your friend, sweet lady!!!

  9. Amen, Delia! Since Satan often tempts us in attractive packaging, it's easy for us to become distrustful, cynical, fearful in today's society. Stories like yours are so refreshing to hear. I'm so thankful for you and your hubby that good-hearted men came to your aid that night, that God was watching over you and provided for your needs. Thank you so much for sharing your story . . . and your prayer!

  10. Some of my greatest blessings have come from surprising sources, Jennifer. How humbling to see how God uses even scruffy, wild-haired men who roll out of dark shadows to answer our prayers. What an AWESOME God He is! I miss you, sweet friend!