22: An Angel in Uniform

22: An Angel in Uniform

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

An Angel in Uniform

Everyone entrusted with a mission is an angel.

~Moses Maimonides

“You have a phone call,” a woman in the aisle whispered. She motioned for me to follow her. The theatre-type seat thumped when I stood. My stomach cramped as I worked my way through the row of preachers’ wives.

“Thelma took the call,” the woman whispered to me. “She said it’s a sheriff.”

The District Superintendent’s wife? Oh, God, what happened? What did Gary do? I rushed down the hall to the church office and reached for the phone. “This is Kathy Crawford.”

“Is the Reverend Gary Crawford your husband?” a deep voice asked.

“Yes.”

“Mrs. Crawford, I’m sorry to inform you, but I arrested your husband. He’s being held for drunk and disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. I believe he planned to commit suicide.”

Why had I left home? Why didn’t I tell anyone how fragile I thought Gary appeared? Why didn’t I confide in the District Superintendent when he preached in our church only two weeks before? Gary looked to everyone like he felt better than in the spring when he said he wanted to die.

Too numb to cry, I handed the phone to Thelma. She wrote down the pertinent information and hung up the phone. “Give me a minute, Kathy, I’ll call my husband. We’ll figure out what we need to do.”

Twenty hours later, I walked into the courthouse.

When I told the desk clerk my name, he said, “The deputy sheriff wants to speak with you, Mrs. Crawford.” He motioned for me to follow him.

“Have a seat. The sheriff will be here shortly.” When the door shut behind him I felt more alone than I had in years.

The glare of the August sun shone through the bare windows. The furnishings looked like something from Perry Mason — a stark interrogation room with old wooden chairs and a long, scarred walnut table in the center. The room smelled of sweat and tobacco. I could imagine a criminal sitting at the table, but not myself. Never could I see my preacher husband at the table. Help us, Father.

“Mrs. Crawford.” I jumped when I heard the deep voice. “Sorry we have to meet like this. I’m the sheriff who arrested your husband. Have a seat, please.”

My eyes filled with tears when my sleeve caught on the jagged edge of the table. No one should face this problem — preacher’s wife or not.

“Before we go into the courtroom I wanted to prepare you for what your husband faces.” The broad-shouldered uniformed man seated himself across from me. “Reverend Crawford attacked me, which in any court of law is a felony and means at least two years in prison.”

My head felt like it might explode. Oh Lord, how would I tell our children? Our grandchildren? Why didn’t He help Gary before this happened?

“Mrs. Crawford, I rarely drive a road that far off the beaten path, but I was cruising. I felt like my week had been sixty hours long and I’d seen my share of conflict. I was tired and I hoped to finish the day without incident. Only something glinted in the sunlight. I don’t know why, but it alarmed me enough to call for backup, just in case.” He paused and then added, “Mrs. Crawford, I believe God sent me down that back road to help your husband.”

My face felt frozen while the sheriff described his rescue efforts.

“Mr. Crawford screamed at me and then yelled for the dog to attack me. Fortunately, a bunch of college boys were swimming further down the river. They helped calm the dog.

“When the boys pulled the dog aside, Mr. Crawford came at me in a fit of rage. I knew there was something different about your husband. Even though he fought like a wildcat, he never once cursed.” The officer looked sixty pounds heavier than my husband and several inches taller. “He kept yelling, ‘Shoot me. Just shoot me,’ and then he ripped my uniform.”

My husband is a strong man, but never combative. He boxed in his teens, but never as an adult. I didn’t think him capable of a fight like the man described. Gary taught our children to live in peace. The scene sounded like something from a movie, not from the Crawford family.

“One of the students held the dog while four others helped me wrestle your husband to the ground.” The sheriff reached his hand across the table to touch my clenched fists. “Mrs. Crawford, I’m a strong believer in Jesus Christ, but rarely do I mention God when I’m working. Still when we finally pinned Gary to the ground, I felt the Lord urging me to sing. In all my years I don’t recall ever doing this before. I lay spread-eagled across your husband’s body and sang ‘Jesus Loves Me This I Know.’ That’s when the wild man gave up the fight.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks.

I heard a door open. “Sheriff, the judge is about ready.”

“We’ll be right there.” The officer pushed the box of tissue my direction. He waited while I composed myself.

“Did your husband battle depression? Talk about suicide?”

“Yes. He told many others last spring. For a couple of months he seemed better, but lately… I couldn’t help him.”

“I don’t know what will happen in the courtroom, but remember God loves your husband. He sent me down that road and showed me how to rescue him. I believe Reverend Crawford was determined to kill himself. When his Biblical training, his love of God wouldn’t let him, he pushed me to do the job for him.”

The uniformed man pushed his chair back and motioned towards the door. “Don’t lose sight of hope. Your husband isn’t a criminal; he is ill and mental illness is treatable.”

The judge reviewed Gary’s case and said, “Because you don’t even have a speeding ticket, Mr. Crawford, this court is dismissing the felony charges.”

Gary received a year of probation and the judge suggested Gary seek professional counseling.

Two days later I heard a sermon from Proverbs 13:12 (NIV): “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” A message from God to assure me He knew where my husband was and He knew what we’d both need in the months to come.

Gary entered a mental hospital for a month, finished his probation and two years of counseling. It took years, but God restored joy to Gary’s heart and healed his mind.

Although shattered and scared, I stood in awe of God who worked miracles — He sent His rescuer, an angel in uniform.

~Kat Crawford

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