Angels of the Road

Angels of the Road

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Angels of the Road

For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee.

Luke 4:10

I was recently divorced and determined to begin a new life in a new place—so when I got accepted into the graduate English program at George Mason University in Virginia, I rented out my house in Orem, Utah, packed my Volkswagen with linens and clothes and dishes, and headed east with my daughter. Jen was seventeen and wanted to finish her senior year in Utah, so after she helped me drive to Virginia, she planned to fly back to live with her older sister. My two youngest children would then fly out to live with me. On our journey across country, Jen and I weren’t alone. Our home teacher, his wife and their five children were traveling along with us in their car on what for them would be a business trip and family vacation.

We were just west of Chicago, not far from Naperville where my sister lived, when I felt a strange bumping under my car. I pulled off onto the shoulder of the road and stared at my tires. The back retread had split apart. My flimsy jack was somewhere under all my stuff. My friends helped me half unload, we tried the jack and realized it wasn’t going to work. Cars and trucks whizzed past us. Suddenly a truck pulled up behind us and a short, muscular man got out. Within minutes he placed his hydraulic jack under my car and changed my tire. Jen and I were soon waving good-bye to this angel of the road— and to our friends, who headed off toward Kalamazoo on business as we headed for Naperville to stay overnight with my sister and brother-in-law.

He wasn’t the only angel of the road we encountered on that trip—or since then. The next morning my brother-in-law insisted on buying four new tires for my Volkswagen—and slipped me an envelope stuffed with ten twenty-dollar bills. When we got lost and found ourselves in a rough neighborhood in Ohio, two dark-haired angels stopped to help—and led us to our motel.

Once on a rainy night in northern Virginia when the clutch in my car went out and I was stranded on the Beltway, a stranger stopped to give me a ride to a telephone. When I glanced at the magazine in the front seat of his car, I saw the Ensign. ”What ward are you in?” I asked, smiling. Instantly, though we were strangers, we knew each other—members of the kingdom who were striving to be saints.

“Our bishop just cautioned us not to stop for strangers on the road,” he told me, “but for some reason I just decided I’d do it this time.”

Because so many human angels had helped me, I was always on the lookout for payback opportunities. A few years later as my daughter and I were heading out of the Vienna metro station late one afternoon, we saw a man standing under the bridge. He was well-dressed and appeared to be in his late sixties or early seventies. He didn’t look like a vagrant, but we live in a dangerous world where appearances can be deceiving. But in those few crucial moments after I first saw him, I felt impressed enough to offer him a ride.

Within minutes after he got in the car, he told me that his car was in the shop, that he was an hour away from his home in Front Royal and that he was a retired Presbyterian minister who was hoping someone would give him a lift. He said if I could at least take him to Manassas, he would see if he could catch another ride there—and he protested when I told him I wanted to drive him all the way.

“I need to pay back some human angels who helped me when I was stranded,” I explained as I headed for west 66.

He smiled and settled back for the ride. He told me two other times he had been picked up at the metro station as he was hoping for a ride—both times by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I hadn’t done anything so wonderful after all—I was just another in a long line of angels of the road! As the apostle Paul said, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).

Ann Best

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