It was like being able to go back and see where I died. I recently went back to a country road in the Hill Country northwest of Austin where, for all intents and purposes, I really should have died in October of 1969. It’s a sad, sobering story of what was truly God’s infinite mercy and my depraved wrongdoing.
This is another angel story, similar to the ones I wrote earlier, “Lucifer and the White Moths“, “The Radio Miracle” and “Don’t Ever Ask Again“. Those events happened a few short months earlier in July/August of 1969.
You’d think, after all I’d experienced, that I’d be a good boy for the next 80 years. But, no. Like I wrote about in “God Is Chance”, at this time I had a fancy European sports car which was in every way a real idol for me. After my near death experiences involving drugs in the summer, I stopped using strong stuff. But I soon got back to smoking marijuana again. And as classes started in the fall at the university, I was able to get my car out of the shop and decided to go out for a drive with my girlfriend.
We were smoking marijuana at night, driving along some of the winding roads out northwest of Austin, listening to Jimi Hendrix on the cassette player. Everything was back to “normal”. In the last month I’d been reading my Bible, a new thing for me, and praying. But I didn’t know who Jesus was; I wasn’t saved and I still was hanging out with my old friends.
The car could go exceptionally fast and I liked that. And we were driving in an area where there’s a rock wall on one side of the road and a drop off to the lake below on the other, much of the time.
What happened next was this. We were driving down a long straightaway that I knew took a slight turn to the right. Suddenly, off on the side of the road in the darkness I saw two lights. I recognized that they were supernatural as this was in the middle of nowhere. I said sort of loudly in my mind, “There are angels here!”
Probably when I saw the angels I was doing between 80 to 90 mph, close to 150 kph. Almost immediately I went into the turn. What I didn’t calculate in my driving was that the road not only turned to the right but it had a dip in the road right there.
My car was going so fast that, because of the dip, the back end of the car spun out and around, 180 degrees. The next thing I knew was that we were going totally backwards at the same speed I went into the turn. I furiously clutched the car, looking behind me into the darkness, applying the brakes, trying to steer the convertible, going backwards at high speed on drugs.
Utterly miraculously we came to a stop on a small shoulder to the road around 100 yards passed the turn. I turned off the engine and we sat there. I turned off the music and by then all the effects of the marijuana were totally gone.
That moment was one of the greatest zeniths (or nadirs) of my life. If I ever, ever felt that I didn’t deserve to be alive right then, that was the place. After all God had done to save me from death and the devil just a few short months before, there I was back at it again.
Sin is not a popular or politically correct word nowadays. But I knew without a doubt that I had sinned and gone back to the ways that had nearly killed me before. I didn’t deserve to survive that experience. I deserved punishment, big time. But God had evidently shown me two angels just a few seconds before that incident who were there to somehow guide that spinning car, hurdling backwards through the darkness along that mountainous road so that the car came to a standstill instead of flipping over or going off a cliff.
The total, undeserved, mercy of God. My willful, sinful self. The revelation of angels to show it was an act of His unearned clemency. We were totally unhurt. The car didn’t even have a scratch on it. We drove back to Austin as I was silently in awe, deeply stunned, sobered and humbled by what had happened.
Why had this happened? First, I was not yet a Christian and didn’t have the power of salvation to give me the strength to flee temptation and follow Him in a new life. But God evidently had a plan for my life. It wasn’t His time or place for me to have a big car wreck as there were a number of things that kept happening during the fall of 1969, leading up to my meeting some young radical Christians during the winter who led me to receive Jesus.
But if I ever have any doubts about where Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), I can think back to my depraved foolishness as I tempted fate and God after He’d delivered me from death just a few months earlier. “His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting“. (Psalms 103:17) “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” (Psalms 34:7)