Doug Tales 65: Cars and Angels, Part Two

Can a highway patrolman be an angel? Doug Mendenhall prayed for and then met one service-minded helper on his way home from a family outing years ago, as he explains in Possibilities: Lessons From the Spirit (2002), pp. 51-53:

In August of 2000 we went to a family camp out. We had spent a wonderful Saturday and were getting ready to come home. As I was loading the van I had the impression from the Spirit that we would have car trouble on the way home. I asked if it was engine trouble and the answer was no, the impression came that it would be tire trouble. Great, I thought, this is a borrowed van. I asked if the van would be OK? The impression came that there would be no damage to the van. How about us, I asked? Anyone going to get hurt? No, the impression came again. I then prayed to Heavenly Father thanking Him that no one would get hurt. I then asked Him to send us an angel to help with the tire trouble. We then finished loading and took off.

We were traveling about 75 MPH, which was the speed limit. They were doing some road work and the two lanes had been narrowed. I had just gone to the inside lane in order to pass a large semi-truck. Looking to my right, I marveled how close the truck was to us. Even at eleven at night, I could see we were very close to it.

Then, all of a sudden I felt something pop. It sounded and felt like something was beating the wheel well on the left side of the van. The van didn’t move to the left or right, it stayed squarely on the road next to the semi-truck. I quickly pulled into the emergency lane, which happened to be gravel because of the road construction. We didn’t swerve or do anything, and I was traveling at 75 MPH.

After stopping the van, I got out to survey what had happened. While getting out, I was thanking God that we had been delivered from a potentially bad accident. I looked at the left front tire and saw that the steel belt had come off. It appeared we had been driving on an “inner tube” and it had not popped. I was floored. We had been going 75 MPH, next to a semi-truck, and stopped rather quickly on the gravel. My mind flashed to all the stories that had been on the news about rollovers that were occurring all over the country from steel belts falling off the tires.

I quickly looked around and saw directly across the freeway there was an exit with a light over it. I told the family we would go over there to change the tire. We were in the middle of nowhere and it was very dark. “Look behind us and tell me when there are no lights coming,” I said, “and then we’ll cross the freeway and get this tire changed.” We all looked and there were no lights anywhere behind us. The road was very straight for several miles. I hurriedly crossed the freeway and put the van in park.

As soon as we stopped the van, I saw a car pull up behind us. “Where did he come from?” I asked the kids, who had continually been looking behind us.

“We don’t know Dad,” came the reply. “He wasn’t there a second ago.”

I noticed it was a Highway Patrol car. Good I thought, it will be good to have him there as we change the tire so his headlights can give us additional light. “Let’s get the jack out,” I told my seventeen year old son. He picked it up from under the seat and it fell apart in his hands. “See if you can get it back together while I get the spare off the back of the van,” I told him. I got out and started to get the spare tire off the back of the van.

The officer got out of his car and asked what kind of problem we were having. “Seems the steel belt fell off the tire,” I answered.

“Let me help you with changing the tire,” he responded. Now I’ve had flat tires before and cops had passed me many times. They never stopped and offered to help us. But, I wasn’t going to refuse his offer. This was all the more amazing because it had been over 100 degrees that day and was still hot on the road, even that late at night.

The next thing I knew, the officer had gotten a “shop” jack out of his car trunk and was jacking up the van. He took the tire iron from me and had that thing “singing” getting the lug nuts off the tires. I had never seen anything like it before. I commented to him that he must have changed a few tires before. He said, “I’ve changed more tires in my time than they have at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.” All the while he was laughing. I noticed the sweat pouring off him. I was amazed an officer would do this, especially since I was there with my seventeen year old son.

He finished up and put the damaged tire where the spare goes. He told us to get some air in the spare. Then he thanked us and wished us well.

Getting back in the van, I told my family of the feelings and conversation I had before we started back. Then I thanked God that He had sent an “angel” to help us. I don’t know what kind of angel he was and don’t really care. I know that God does hear the petitions of our hearts, that He does watch out for us, and the things we go through are just experiences.

Driving the rest of the way home I reflected on some of the things I had studied about angels. Just what do angels do when they “appear and minister unto men?” We have learned through our experiences that they are with us much of the time. That is a very comforting feeling. We have also learned from experience that they love to serve. Service brings them joy.