Thursday started like any other day, but somehow seemed different. The sun was bright, the sky was blue and I was headed out to do something I love. I was going to visit all four of our stores in one day, making deliveries and checking in with the staff to see how they are doing at this busy time of year. As I suspected, things were hopping in the stores and the Christmas season had begun with a bang, so I was only able to interact briefly, praying with several of them and then heading on to the next location. When I got to our furthest store in Northfield, NJ, I got a call that a book was needed in Center City that needed to be taken from Moorestown, so I re-routed my trip. As I left the Center City store on route to my last destination, I had a sense of joy in seeing all that God is doing through our teams and prepared to take the scenic route via Vine Street and the Kelly Drive along the beautiful Schuylkill River.
As I got to the intersection of 7th and Vine Street and was preparing to make the left turn, a huge truck pulled up on my right (in the wrong lane to make a left turn) and the driver looked down at me from his cab indicating that he wanted to get in front of me when the light changed. Seeing how big the truck was and not being in a hurry, I signaled that I would let him in. Little did I know how momentous that decision would be.
The truck did get in front of me and attempted to make the left turn, but got stuck in the process. Not seeing that he had gotten stuck until it was too late, I had followed him at what I thought was a safe distance. As I began to make the left turn myself, I saw that he was stuck and wondered what he was going to do and how long it was going to take. Suddenly, as traffic behind him cleared, he started going backwards and sideways at the same time (his cab was moving in a different direction than the truck bed itself) and it was all headed toward me. For a moment it seemed as if the world was moving in slow motion as the truck kept coming, I started honking and it looked like I was going to be crushed under the truck bed.
The truck did not stop despite my honking and broke the side mirror on the van I was driving as it was about to impact the entire side of the van with me a few inches away from what seemed like certain injury or death. At the very moment, a man that I had not seen at all appeared out of nowhere and ran up along the side of the truck shouting for the driver to stop and banging on the truck. To my great relief, the driver heard him and stopped at that very moment while other people were getting out of cars and rushing up to see what had happened.
As I drove away from the scene, shaking and wondering how it was possible that only my mirror had been damaged and that I had not been hurt, I thanked the Lord for his protection. Suddenly, I realized that I may have been saved by one of the very people that I ignore on a regular basis and occasionally get aggravated at.
The place that the truck got stuck was in a very busy intersection that is not really safe for pedestrians to cross. Several roads and two highways intersect at this very point and therefore it would be unusual for anyone but panhandlers or a homeless person to have been anywhere nearby. As I thought about the person who saved me, I do not know anything about him except that he was not very well dressed and appeared out of nowhere. Whoever he was, he was certainly an angel in human form, that God used to protect me and I am grateful.
On Friday, I stopped into the Chestnut Hill store late in the day to see if I could lend a hand for a few moments and ended up staying for a few hours. As I was putting some books on a shelf and welcoming people as they entered the front door, a woman came in who looked frantic. She grabbed me by the arm, marched me down the Bible aisle and proceeded to tell me that she had not read the Bible in a long time. Her eyes conveyed her desperation with life and she went on to tell me that her son had died not long ago and that she was not living the life that she knew she should be. Determined to get a Bible that she could read and understand, she had come into our store and I was the person God had appointed for her to meet.
We spent a while together looking for the right Bible and then a simple Bible dictionary so that she could really understand more of the words and concepts that she was reading. As we were talking, I felt led to offer to pray for her and she seemed glad. At that very moment, her mother (who had prompted her trip to our store in the first place) came in and spent some time helping her select other items for her other child and some friends. Before she left the store, we stopped and prayed and as I was doing so, I realized that maybe in some small way, I had been an angel in human form for a woman who felt far from God but was drawing near to Him again, not knowing that He had never moved at all.