I think they are everywhere, you know…Angels.
I think because they look just like regular people, we walk past them in the street, brush past them on buses and trains, maybe return their smiles in shopping centres or at parks, thank them when they hold the door open for us or let us on the bus before them even though they’re ahead of us in the queue.
I think I saw an angel once last year – crossing the street to talk with me when I was lost and I think I saw one earlier this week.
I think he was my Uber driver and I think he was there to calm me down on my journey to the hospital emergency ward.
Here’s how it played out:
I was scared. My heart was thumping away at 90 miles an hour as my GP had assessed my swollen, bulbous left leg and said “get straight to emergency in hospital”.
So there I was. I stood in front of a Bankwest in the centre of Morley so I’d be easy to find. I booked in the Uber and typed out all the details it requested for pick up and drop off.
I glared at my phone screen and anxiously watched the cartoon ‘uber’ car on the map, willing it with all my heart to “please just get here” as quickly as possible.
Of all the cars, this one seemed to be driven by a lunatic – because the cartoon car kept heading into dead ends, turning around and then starting over. Often in the wrong direction.
“Your driver will be with you soon” flashed up the message on my screen.
Because right now, he’s going around and around the same roundabout.
I bit my lip and hovered my finger above the ‘cancel driver’ button.
“Wait” I heard a voice deep down insist. “Just wait“.
The Uber ‘arrival time’ kept changing on my phone – from 5 minutes (yay) to 12 minutes (boo) to 3 minutes (woo!) then back up to 10 minutes (what are you doing, driver???). I was so stressed, wondering why I had to go to the emergency ward and feeling so very alone.
Finally, the black Astra I was waiting for arrived. I checked, and the license plate matched the one on my booking. I glanced across at the driver details “Albert”.
Okay Albert. Let’s go.
I got into the passenger seat and shut the door.
Albert pointed to the end of the block of shops I was waiting at “Is that the exit?” he had a very strong African accent.
I nodded. I couldn’t see further than a meter away without my glasses, but it looked promising.
We drove up and it wasn’t an exit at all.
We both sighed.
“Why did you say exit when it wasn’t?” he accused.
“I didn’t know where we were going – aren’t you the Uber driver? You have google maps up on your screen” I pointed at his phone screen on the dashboard.
I was scared, my mind racing with all kinds of illnesses. Did I have something life threatening? What was going to happen to me?
My heart was aching. Was I having a heart attack?
Am I going to die?
“Well you should just say you don’t know” Albert’s voice cut into my thoughts “That was not an exit” he grumbled.
Immediately my worrying stopped and I found myself irritated.
“I don’t know, ok? I’m doing my best”
Albert huffed, not impressed.
This is going to be a tough ride. I don’t need this on top of my stress.
The car sped along, Albert glancing regularly at the blue dot on Google maps. He was a terrible driver and was swerving quite a lot on the road.
Great. My driver is probably as high as a kite. It doesn’t matter if I have cancer, I will probably die in a car crash.
“Work?” He asked – out of nowhere.
“Are you going to there for work?” and Albert gestured, presumably in the direction of the hospital.
“No, I’m going as a patient”
That will shut him up.
“Ah okay” Albert nodded “Why?”
None of your business, old mate.
I sighed “I don’t know why yet, I have to go and find out”
“Ah” Albert said again.
“So why don’t you know the way?”
Really? Again with directions? What is wrong with you?
“I don’t drive” I sighed. This was such an unpleasant journey.
There was a blissful silence for about 5 minutes.
But then my anxious thoughts started tumbling over themselves.
Am I going to die?
“Do you have children?” Albert asked, his voice cutting into the silence; interrupting my anxious thoughts.
“No” I cleared my throat “Just my hubby and I”
“You don’t want children?” Albert sounded annoyed, as if it was a failing of mine.
“I can’t have them” I pointed to my stomach and shrugged.
Usually that stops any further questions. Not so with this guy.
“You can have them” Albert insisted.
“Really?” I asked “because Doctors – a lot of Doctors – have told me otherwise”
“No” Albert argued “I don’t agree with that. Because you see, God is our ultimate creator. What HE says is what we need to listen to. Doctors can say this. Doctors can say that. But what God says is final and He knows what is best for you”
That caught me off guard.
“God gave Sarah a baby and she was over 90 years old” Albert continued, very proud of this.
“That was in the old testament” I answered “Things have changed since then”
“God stays the same no matter what” Albert insisted
“So” Albert’s deep voice filled the car’s cabin “You can have children, you just don’t want them“
“What?” I asked, dumbfounded
“God doesn’t force children onto people. You just don’t want them” Albert nodded, affirming something to himself.
“You don’t even know me” I sighed, looking out the window.
“I know you are a child of God” Albert said.
As he said it, his face just lit up. It was so unexpectedly beautiful, I couldn’t look away.
“God loves you so much. He wants you to be happy and if you and your husband don’t want children, He won’t force them on you. You have so much goodness in you. So much love. Maybe God has placed you in this world to be a blessing to children in your own way. Maybe” and he chuckled to himself.
It was like having a conversation with the wise monkey in Lion King. Raffiki?
“Maybe” I bit my lip, uncertain and caught off guard.
“Why are you going to hospital?” Albert enquired again.
“For my leg” I gestured to it “My GP sent me right away…I’m…I’m a little scared about it, actually” and tears sprang to my eyes.
Albert smiled across at me. The kindness in his smile was strangely tactile – as if he’d reached across and hugged me.
“God holds you in His hand. He will see you through this – whatever illness this is, you can trust in Him to see you through”
I nodded, fighting back the tears.
“God’s word – the Bible – it has two very important parts” Albert explained.
“The old and the new testament?” I asked
“No” Albert corrected “The word and the spirit”
I raised my eyebrows.
“You’ve turned into quite the preacher” I joked.
Albert smiled wide “I love the word of God. I love talking about God – it’s amazing, isn’t it?”
“It is” I agreed.
“I like to pray for people as I drive them around” Albert smiled, delighted.
“I bet you bless them even without them knowing”
Albert smiled again. It was nice not to be arguing anymore.
“You can read the words in the Bible…” Albert continued ” – you can read a sentence that says, for instance ‘our spirits are willing but our bodies are weak’ and you can think to yourself “what does that mean?” and that’s where you need to know God’s Holy Spirit – because the spirit will explain what lies beneath the words – what the true meaning is”
I waited for more, knowing it would come.
“So you will read a lot of things now – things that might not make sense to you but pray on these things, take them to God and ask for His wisdom and guidance so that you can see with the Spirit of God to know what things really mean”
By now, we were pulling up to the Hospital.
Typical Albert, he had taken me around the back of the Hospital and not to the front entrance.
“I’ll uh, get out here” I smiled across at Albert “I can walk around to the front”
“No no” Albert insisted “I will turn the car around. I will take you where you need to go”
And somehow it felt to me that he wasn’t just meaning the car ride. Something was going on here – something spiritual that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Albert steered the car around the side of the hospital and to the front – to just outside the emergency entrance.
“Write down your number” He handed me a piece of paper.
You’re like…70 years old, Albert. Are you macking on me???
“I’m married, remember?” I laughed and pointed to my wedding rings.
Albert laughed too “This I know” he said “I want your number so I can visit you and read the Bible to you. Together, we will find out what is beneath all the words, yes?” he grinned, his smile taking up almost all of his face. So bright and so beautiful I felt struck by it.
“You’re just trying to chat me up” I teased. Still, I accepted the pen he held out to me and I wrote my number on the scrap of paper he offered, writing one of my favourite Bible verses under my name and number “Romans 8:28” (All things work together for the good of those who love God). Writing that verse gave me a peace in my heart. A confidence and a reminder that everything would be okay.
It seemed to lift and encourage me more than it should have – giving my mobile number to a randomer.
“You will also tell me where you live” Albert insisted
I laughed. Cheeky thing.
“I won’t be doing any such thing”
I opened the car door and lifted my really, really heavy left leg out. It had swollen even more on the car trip to the hospital.
“God is in control” Albert smiled as I gently shut the door.
“Get out of here, you crazy man” I smiled back.
“You will tell me where you live!” Albert repeated, shifting the car into reverse.
“I won’t!” I shouted out to him, waving as his car pulled away from the pavement.
And as I walked to the sliding doors of the Emergency entrance, I felt a lot better. A lot stronger. A lot more at peace.
Even though I was on my own, God was with me…and everything would be ok.