I have inferred from my studies of the Scriptures that there is no such thing as “guardian angels.” The Bible portrays angels primarily as messengers (the meaning of the name) and warriors, but never as babysitters scurrying around to protect us from ourselves. Never-the-less, I am convinced they exist; I am married to Cheryl. There is no way she could have survived this long without heavenly watch care. A legion of angels willing to accept hazardous duty must be assigned to her.
My wife is a brilliant woman. She has a Ph.D.. She is in demand as a speaker at universities and colleges the world over. She is a published scholar often quoted as an expert in her field. Yet, she doesn’t have a lick of common sense. She missed the bus the day they taught that lesson. She has absolutely zero ability to discern a dangerous situation. Her existence in and of itself is proof guardian angels exist.
Anybody can be caught up in an auto accident. I have been hit twice myself. Cheryl is the poster girl for single car crash survival. The first one was minor; she banged the garage (hard) while backing out. The second time she hit a guard rail, slicing open the car from bumper to bumper. It looked like someone had taken an old fashioned can opener and ratcheted a straight gouge all the way down the driver’s side of the car. The third time she hydroplaned and spun like a top in the median. Those are the ones I know about.
The angels are on overtime pay when she meets a criminal. Our church sits in a wooded area adjacent to the interstate. When we bought the property the Executive Director of the non-profit from which we bought it warned us the site was a known location for drug exchanges, major drug exchanges. It seems our property was conveniently located between Atlanta and Knoxville. The lead investigator for the regional federal prosecutor was a friend of ours and he confirmed the story.
Late one Saturday night we were cleaning for Sunday morning as usual and Cheryl departed first as I finished straightening up the chairs. I suddenly heard a commotion outside. When I got out the front door I found Cheryl standing with her front car door open. The car was facing across the pond where there were a couple of cars parked side by side with their lights on. Cheryl was alternating between flashing her bright lights on and off and blowing her horn while she yelled “This is God’s property. Get out of here and take your sinful business somewhere else.”
My response was less than gentile, “Are you crazy? If those are drug dealers, they carry guns and they aren’t afraid to use them. Honestly, you don’t have the sense you were born with.” (I apologized later.)
Her response was a calm understatement, “Oh, yeh. I didn’t think about that.”
Then there was the General Assembly of 1986. Cheryl was mugged while standing alone at the elevator in our hotel. The mugger banged her head into the wall, grabbed her purse and took off running down the adjacent stairwell. Cheryl chased him down several flights of stairs before it dawned on her she was alone in a stairwell with a man who had already slammed her head into the wall. She discovered the doors were locked and her only option was to continue downward toward the voices of some workers.
Finally, there was the event that changed my life and our relationship forever. Three years ago I bought a zero turn lawn mower, one of the greatest inventions of all time. These modern marvels are able to turn on a dime because they are steered by the rotation of the rear wheels. A hydrostatic transmission on each allows them rotate at varying speeds independently. Each can also effortlessly move into reverse rotation allowing an instant top-like spin. The challenge is to adjust to the different process for steering. Instead of a traditional steering wheel there are two handlebars, one for each wheel. Speed and direction are determined by pushing and pulling the handlebars. It takes some getting use to and is at first counter intuitive. I cut down a few things I had intended to mow around.
After a couple of weeks Cheryl wanted to use the mower, “It looks like fun.”
I gave her instructions and directed her to an open space near the house. She did fine. When I came to take over and mow the section near the road, where the deep ditch is, she asked to continue while I did a favor for her. I agreed provided, “You must promise me you will not get near the ditch. Just a few weeks ago a woman right here in Bradley County killed herself by turning one of these over in a ditch.”
“I won’t go near the ditch.”
“No, look at me. I need you to promise you will not go anywhere near the ditch and by “near” I mean within six feet. Will you promise?”
“Yes, I promise I will not go within six feet of the ditch.”
I was in the garage when I heard her screams. I ran to find her dangling over the ditch being held in place by the telephone pole. She had been mowing about six inches from the crevasse. She was scared; I was more so. And I was angry. I yelled. She had broken her promise and almost killed herself.
“I kept my promise. I was a long way from the ditch.”
“Cheryl, if you were a long way from the ditch one wheel wouldn’t be dangling in thin air.”
I didn’t speak to her for three days. And then I had an epiphany. I am not her guardian angel. If she wants to chase muggers or kill herself on a lawnmower, that’s between her and God. On our wedding day I made a vow to protect her with my own life if need be. I suddenly felt released from the responsibility of protecting her from herself. That’s a job for angels and apparently she has a good team of them. As for me, I am free.
As for the other exploits of Cheryl Bridges Johns – body surfing down whitewater rapids, taking shortcuts through strange international cities, etc. – are they not written in the Chronicles of the Protected Ones.
May 12, 2010