When I was writing Miracle at DormelFarms, there was a sidebar story that many writers would not have included in the book. Cows have been a major part of my life, however – when I was a toddler my brother would sit me on the back of the cows as he milked them, and a connection was made that just won't go away, so naturally I had to include this little story.
In July of 2002, America was still reeling from the 9/11 attacks. When nine miners were trapped in a flooded mine under a farm in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, the country – and even the world – held its breath.
At one point the rescue workers wanted to use seismograph to try to locate and communicate with the miners. The order went out for total silence. They didn't even want people to shuffle their feet, because the seismograph was set up all aroud the area and the microphones and equipment were extremely sensitive.
This was taking place on a farm, remember. In a field, just up the road there were forty-five cows that could potentially stompa hoof or moo or munch on grass and mess up the test. One of the volunteer firemen was sent to “make the cows stand still and not make any noise.”
I don't know how well you know cows, but picture trying to do this with 45 preschoolers. The challenge is the same. It's not so much that cows don't understand logic; it's that they fundamentally dislike logic. Ever try to get a cow to go back into a pasture through the same hole in the fence by which it had escaped? It ain't happenin'. So as the fireman walked up the road that day he wondered what in the world he was going to do.
“God, I need a little help here,” he prayed.
When he reached the field, he was astonished when every one of those cows stood as still as statues and stared at him without a sound for ten minutes. This fireman was a farm boy – he knew this just doesn't happen.
I have a theory about that incident that I didn't put into the book. I don't think the cows were staring at the fireman. I believe they were staring behind the fireman – at the angel with his finger on his lips.
I have no evidence to prove my theory. (Animals do seem to be sensitive to the supernatural world. Take a look at the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22:22-33.) There were a lot of miracles associated with the successful rescue of every one of the nine trapped miners. Cows standing still for ten minutes might not sound like much of a miracle, but it was a piece of the puzzle that made the rescue as a whole possible.
I've mentioned this theory to a few people, but have never put it into writing. Angels played a big part in Scripture, and nowhere does it say that they stopped being active in post-biblical history.
You may have your own angel story. I have two. I was driving in to work one day on icy roads. Icy roads are one of the factors that influenced my move to Georgia. Not fun. I wasn't going very fast because of the road conditions, and as I was coming into town a big truck in front of me stopped. I touched my brakes which promptly locked up, and I started to slide. When you're locked up, there's just no stopping. I prayed out loud, “Lord, stop me!” And He did. I think in those situations He sends His angels, and one just stood in front of my car and stopped it.
The other occasion probably required a couple of angels. I was stopped on a two-lane highway to make a left turn. There was a small rise in the road behind me, but there was no reason why the tractor trailer driver couldn't have seen me in time to slow down if he had been going the speed limit. Unfortunately, he was flying. I couldn't move because traffic was coming from the opposite direction. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw that big rig barreling down on me and just knew this was the end. Somehow he managed to get far enough off the road to zip past me. The whole car shook, and I'm sure the angels standing arm-in-arm around my car had brushburns. But I lived to tell the story.
Lest I be misunderstood, I'd like to make a few points about angels. Don't take my word for it – look up the verses I refer to.
1 - Angels are created beings and are not to be worshipped. 1 Peter 3:21-22 - “. . . Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” Read the whole chapter for context. All creation, including angels will be subject to Jesus, and Hebrews 1:6 exhorts angels to worship Him. In Revelation 19:10 an angel admonishes John for falling down to worship him. And do I need to remind you of the first commandment? “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:1-6.
2 - Angels are called “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14). They serve God and follow his orders. In Daniel 6, God sent an angel to protect Daniel in the lion's den. In Acts 5:19-20, an angel opened the prison doors to release Peter. The examples in Scripture are numerous.
3 - Christ didn't die for angels, so they cannot be saved. That's why the devil and his demons are fallen angels for all eternity: in Revelation 20:10, the devil is thrown into the lake of fire. See the fall of these angels in Isaiah 14:12-14. 1 Peter 1:12 (again read the whole chapter), in speaking about salvation tells us that angels long to look into the mystery of salvation. Imagine their amazement when Christ, who they worshipped and obeyed allowed Himself to come to earth and go to the cross for measly old human beings!
4 - Please don't tell your children that “grandma went to heaven to be an angel.” Humans do not become angels. Remember, angels cannot comprehend the whole idea of salvation. 1 Corinthians 15 gives a long dissertation on the ressurection and in a potentially confusing passage explains that our human bodies will be exchanged for imperishable bodies. Don't get lost in the perishables and imperishables. What it all boils down to is that we will have a glorified body like that of Jesus Christ, not that of an angel.
Why have I given you this theology lecture? Because we're exposed to a lot of misinformation about angels, and people are too quick to worship anything other than God. It's vital that we know what the Bible says about this or any other subject we're exploring.
I don't carry an “angel in my pocket,” but I do believe God sends His angels to protect us, minister to us or otherwise help us. There may be times when you are“touched by an angel,” but don't confuse the messenger with the God who sends that messenger. The miracle at Dormel Farms was aided by angels, but the God of those angels was the One who performed the miracles. And He alone is worthy to be worshipped.