“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and He rescues them.”
– Psalm 34:7
At seventy-two, my mother led a very busy, active life that kept her on the run. She took care of the financial side of our family business, which included frequently depositing checks in the bank. She ran errands, took care of the house, cooked dinner, cleaned up, and entertained visitors as needed.
That day started out like any other for my mother. She hadn’t slept well the night before because so much was going on. My aunt and uncle from Florida had been visiting and had just left shortly before my mom set out to run errands and get groceries. She had gone to the bank, made several stops and was on her way home from the grocery store in Millcreek. I am sure that she was getting ready to do some more work at the house.
The last place my mother remembers seeing was McDonald’s on the far end of town. Then the car sped out of control. “I knew I was in trouble when I saw trees whizzing by me,” she said later. “But I couldn’t stop myself!”
She kept on flying through town until she reached downtown Girard on Main St. Not even a double brick wall could stop her! She drove right through it, and ended up on the inside of an automotive shop with a pop can dispenser on the hood of the car. The car shop lay smack in the middle of town next to our oldest existing bank, where she, incidentally, does her banking.
Girard is small, the storybook small town, in fact. Businesses line both sides of the street. It takes about five minutes to drive through town. In the moment it took for the sound of the crash to reverberate from the inside of a building, Main Street came alive. Proprietors and customers alike from the local businesses came running out to see what the tremendous sound was. Children from the pool, which lies nearby, may have been walking by and gathered together to witness the commotion. The local police on duty and firemen jumped into action.
Louis Hannah, retired fire chief, directed the traffic flow away from the accident scene. He had the foresight to call my dad, who, of course, was his personal friend. “Kitty’s had an accident.”
“How bad is it? Is she hurt?” Dad barked into the phone.
“It looks pretty bad,” Louis replied. “Better get right over here.”
I imagine that my father jumped in his truck and drove quickly to the scene. Even in this fear, he probably remained calm. His many years of training as emergency operator at the Communications Center would have kicked in. As he sped into town, “I saw the ambulance an all the pandemonium. I knew it had to be bad.” He parked his truck as close as he could get, jumped out and raced to find out what was happening.
My mother lay strapped down on a gurney in the ambulance when my father reached her. She looked groggy and frightened. But the ambulance crew couldn’t believe it. She didn’t have one single broken bone or even a scratch. Miraculously, she was in one piece! They told my father their findings, and my dad couldn’t believe it either. “Holy cow!” From first glance, he saw the car, a lovely grey Subaru that my mother cherished, was utterly demolished.
The ambulance took my mother to the medical center where they did tests on her. Did she black out? Could she have had a mini-stroke? A heart attack? They tested for all these possibilities, but in the end, pronounced her in good condition. I don’t know how but it looks like you simply fell asleep while driving,” the doctor declared.
Meanwhile, the streets emptied of the many onlookers. The firefighters went back to the station. The police cleared out the bottleneck traffic and life resumed in our small town—except for the tale. I am sure it passed from mouth to mouth, from one concerned citizen to another, the tale of Kitty Bovaird, the only woman to drive through town, asleep at the wheel, and crash through a double brick wall and pop machine, and survive to tell about it!
I heard this story when I was in the UAE. Sharing it with my prayer group that night, we talked about how blessed my mother was to have emerged from this accident unscathed when the car she was in got totaled. This scripture came up and I instantly saw His truth. It was God at work in my mother’s life! She had an angel on her shoulder guiding her safely down Main Street. She didn’t hit any other car along the way. Instead, an angel guided her in a straight line down the few miles it took her to get to the center of Main Street. It did not swerve into any tree, or hit a single pedestrian! Instead, when she went through the double-brick wall, the pop machine served as a vivid, right-there-in-your-face reminder of what could have happened had a child been seeking out a can of pop.
It wasn’t just lucky coincidence. God’s protective hand stilled the car, prevented injury of any kind to anyone. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a modern-day Jericho. We could see the juxtaposition of the force of nature and God’s gentleness at the very same time. I had read about angels but until it touched my family’s life, I never actually witnessed their care.
Just as many of the townspeople will remember that sleep-driving event as an incredible event, so will my family. But for us, the tale is a personal one that deepens our faith.
We can’t say for certain if exhaustion overcame my mom when she was at the wheel, but what we do know is that the angel perched on her shoulder formed a shield around her so that nothing could penetrate her. Interesting that a double-brick wall and pop machine were penetrated—yet my mother remained unhurt. God has a thing about walls, and how to bring them down. Whether it’s marching around them seven times and shouting, or a car speeding out of control and going through them, God watches over both. He knows all the details; the thickness, the force, and the speed to make their destruction so dramatic, and yet retain the incredibility to point the way to Him.
I am sure if given the choice, my mother would have forgone the notoriety in our small town during the time people talked about her collision with the double-brick wall. But since she didn’t, she thanked God, and gave all the glory to Him.
We have a new respect for angels camping out in good weather and even more so, in the bad weather of our lives. I think that was the first time I ever really saw that verse. But we’ve relied on it in many situations since then, and have seen the evidence of God’s angels encamping around each of us at different times in our lives. My sister even said that my father talked of seeing an angel (or angels) near him shortly before he passed away, and her preacher brought that verse up. It gives me great comfort.
What about you? Have you survived something that seems unbelieveable? When have angels pitched tents on your shoulders and guarded your lives? Would love to hear from you. Leave a comment!