Read an Excerpt
Surely He Shall
Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their
teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the
fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is
in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Over the course of researching stories that recount the miraculous ways in which God intervenes in our lives, I prayed that God would bring to mind incidents in which I and those dearest to me had received angelic protection. Instances that came to mind had to do with preservation from death or incapacity in accidents or near accidents (some of which were such close calls that they truly did border on the miraculous). I suspect, in most cases, we aren't fully aware of God's delivering hand in the events of our lives. Perhaps we chalk up too much to coincidence. Even so, I am confident that the Lord and His angels have intervened time after time in each of our lives, as confident as the Auntie of Muriel Parfitt's story in this section:
We were surrounded by wolves all right. But our never-failing God was watching over us. No matter what we do or where we are, God sees us. He always takes care of His children, and we have positive proof of that fact too, because when Uncle John and our friend looked for something with which to build a fire [to ward off the wolves], they felt the trees around them and found that we were standing by an evergreen tree.
Andno ordinary evergreen was this, as Auntie's heavenly Father knew, but the very evergreen that was needed, the evergreen to which only He could have so miraculously led the surrounded party.
Not until we get to heaven will we really know how many times these divine interventions saved us from disaster or death. Still, on some occasions, such as those presented here, His role is undeniable.
He Shall Give His Angels Charge over You
Lois Wheeler Berry
I grew up on this story, hearing it retold many times during my childhood and adolescence. I don't believe it is mere coincidence that my grandfather's sistervery much alive, memory razor-sharp, and in her nineties, who heard the story over and over, firsthand at her father's kneeagreed to write it out for me by hand, and then faxed it to me. I also referred to another account written by one of my cousins (Dorothy Johnson Muir's "Faith," published in the August 2, 1938, Youth's Instructor). Essentially what follows is Lois Berry's story with Dorothy Muir's account and my own memories intertwining on occasion.
* * *
If ever a man had absolute faith in his God, it was my father. And God honored that faith many, many times. But while many miraculous happenings were tied to his medical ministry, there was one story that took place even before medical schoolbefore I was born, in fact (one reason I've always envied my three older siblings). During my growing-up years, no story did we children request more often than this one, and Father never tired of telling it.
During the early 1890s, Father, for a time, sold Christian books. This particular story took place during the summer of '92. Father had been taking book orders in the then rather wild Shasta and Modoc Counties of northeastern California. So spectacularly beautiful was the scenery that Father determined to bring Mother along in the fall when he delivered the books.
So it was that, after camp meeting in Stockton, Father hitched his two horses to the wagon (already heavily loaded with books and supplies, for there were then mighty few places to stop for food), signaled Mother and the three children to board the wagon, slapped the reins on the horses' rumps, and set off. Vacations were rare in those days; consequently, the children found this camping trip incredibly exciting.
Father made several book deliveries in the Redding and Mount Shasta area. (Mount Shasta, at 14,161 feet, dominates the skyline of that part of the state. Always there is snow on it, but in those days there was a lot more snow than we see today.) Afterward, the family headed up the steep road toward the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. The weight of all those books, five people, food, and camping quilts guaranteed a slow trip, but the children didn't care, for that meant more nights camping out under the stars.
Finally, as they approached the highest summit on the route, Father joyfully remembered that there was an inn therefittingly called Paradise Inn. How wonderful to sleep in a real bed for one night!
Alas! When they arrived about sundown, there were only smoldering ruins, a stark fireplace alone still standing, legacy of a swift-moving forest fire.
Father managed to find a place to camp under a few trees that had somehow survived the fire. Mother fixed supper, and everyone else set up camp. After supper, at worship, Father asked the Lord to send His angels to protect them during the night.
The cold at that elevation was bone chillingwinter was in the air. Finally, Father and Mother held a family council: What should they do? Father remembered that there was a house about six miles further, on the other side of the mountain. If they kept going, surely they'd be offered hospitality. The children, teeth chattering and unable to get warm, were easy to persuade. So they loaded all the bedding back into the wagon, rounded up the weary horses, and rehitched them to the wagon. Before slapping the reins, Father once again prayed that the Lord's angels would protect them during the long descent.
Night fell quickly. The darkness was so thick they could almost feel it. Not being able to see the road, Father loosened the reins, tied them to the whipstock, and left it up to the horses to find their way down. It was at this part of the story that Father's voice always slowed as he struggled for emotional control. You see, horse-drawn wagon travel was incredibly noisy; the horses' every move, every step, every snort, every shake of the reins, could be clearly heard. Same with the wagon; the great solid rims were never quiet as they battled through dirt, gravel, and rocks; the wind whipped at the canvas, and the wooden chassis with its leather supports continually creaked and groaned. It was for this reason that none of the five ever forgot that night. Not only could they not see in the pitch-blacknessthey could not hear! The wagon did not squeak; the wheels could not be heard as they turned, nor could the horses' hoovesit was eerily silent! The travelers only sensed that they were moving.
Occasionally, they would feel a jolt, and twice the wagon came to a complete stop. In each case, Father slowly got out and groped his way toward the horses' heads, then stooped down to detect the problem. In each case, he encountered logs, logs he was ablesomehowto move. Then he groped his way back to the horses, then back to the wagon, reboarded it, and signaled the horses that the way was clear. Once again there was absolute silence.
Not long after the second stop, everyone experienced a hard jolt. Immediately, the jogging of the hones could be heard again, the wagon wheels could be heard again, and all the multitudinous wagon squeaks could be heard again.
After what seemed an entire night (but in reality, only about four hours), they saw, off in the distancefaintly at firsta light in a window. As they drew nearer, dogs began to bark, and then a man came out, with a lantern in his hand, curious as to who these unexpected visitors might be and where they might have come from. Father politely introduced himself and then explained how they had planned to stay at Paradise Inn, but finding only ruins there had just kept going, hoping they could make it down the mountain safely, and trusting they would be welcome to stay overnight at this rancher's house.
The rancher didn't believe him at all, and retorted, "Now, really, no joking, where did you come from?"
Father again reaffirmed his story.
The rancher exploded, "Why, man, you're crazy! No one has made it through in over five days. It is impossible! Just today a man tried to go through on horseback, but he could not!" And thus, preposterous to imagine that a wagon could get through! "A terrible forest fire has burned everythingtrees, brush, and houses."
But Father stuck to his story. Once again he asked if they could stay overnight, and if there was feed and shelter for the horses. "Of course," answered the rancher. After the children were put to bed, Father went out to unhitch and tend to the horses, only to find out that the kind rancher had already taken care of them. Before retiring, Father and Mother knelt down and offered a prayer of thanksgiving.
The following morning, the rancher again asked Father for the truth. Once again the answer was the same. The rancher then showed Father the road and the terrain over which he would have had to travel. As Father's gaze took in that impassable vista of fallen trees and smoldering logs, he finally understood the rancher's disbelief. So Father explained to him how they had prayed for angelic protection before leaving the pass.
The last thing the family saw as they left the ranch was their host, with a gun on his shoulder, retracing their route of the night before, walking between their wagon wheel tracks toward the spot where the tracks inexplicably disappeared.