When I was growing up, from time to time I would hear folks tell stories about angels. Or what they were convinced were angels.
There's a verse in the Bible that says something along the lines of, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."
These stories usually are in the form of stopping to pick up a stranger, giving the stranger a ride, and when dropping the person off and driving away, there's no one in the rear view mirror. The stranger was gone. Like God was testing them or something.
I always kept that in my mind, and from time to time I have tried to help folks when I could. This has been tempered however by the dangers of stopping and picking up strangers, you know?
But years ago, when I was in college for the first time in Monroe, Louisiana, I was heading north on Forsythe Avenue one day. I saw ahead of me on a corner on my side of the road, an elderly black man with two paper sacks of groceries. It was brutally hot, humidity making you sweat just to look outside.
And I get this super strong feeling in my gut that I MUST stop and offer to help this man.
So, I turn on my blinker, turn just past him, and pull as close to him as I can in the parking lot beside him.
"Sir? Can I give you a ride somewhere?"
"Yes, and I sho 'preciate it."
He gets in the passenger side of the 75 Ford pickup I was driving back then, and ask him where he needs to go. He tells me a place about three miles away, where his grandson is, and that he was trying to walk there, but just ran out of energy in the heat.
This was when Ol' Blue, my pickup truck, still had a working air conditioner. I cranked that baby up on high, and the old guy just breathed a sigh of relief.
I got to where he wanted out, and he thanked me about 20 times for giving him a lift and sharing my air conditioner.
I must admit, that I looked back, almost hoping that he had disappeared, but he was there, walking toward the building where his grandson worked.
Then about a month later, I saw him again, just a bit farther up the road from where I had seen him and picked him up the first time. I pulled over right in front of where he was walking, got out and waved him to come get in the truck.
He just smiled and got in with his grocery bags again.
He wanted to go to the same place, but he had been determined to make it this time, but I had seen him, recognized him, and stopped for him again.
I dropped him off where his grandson worked, or so he said.
But this time I didn't look back; I didn't need to have an experience with an angel to know that I had done the right thing.