Are angels real?

I really like this question. Have you ever just stopped and asked this to yourself? Or asked anybody you commonly engage with? Try it in casual conversation and see what happens. You may get a whole slew of different responses:

1. “Yes, I saw one when I was younger. Watched over me when I was in a car wreck.”
2. “You know, I’m not so sure. I think they are out there but it’s hard to believe sometimes. I mean, isn’t it God’s job to test you and stuff?”
3. “Well, I saw this movie once and something similar happened to me, so yeah, I’d say they’re out there.”
4. “Dude, are you talking about Ouija boards or something?”
5. “You know, I’ve had experiences I cannot explain and others had told me similar stories so I can’t deny their existence.”

Each of the above quotes have been paraphrased based upon actual testimony. And they were all from the same person, no less. How does that grab you? And what’s more, the person who said each of those was me.

The seasons of one’s life can change in an instant and when they do, it’s dynamic. When the chips are up, you feel like you’re making it, but when they’re down, you feel isolated and alone. And when you’re alone, you doubt just about everything that ever meant anything to you.

Sometimes the grandest of experiences, like the apperance of an angel, can easily be discarded as we move about our daily lives. Such was the case with my story.

Many years ago, I was involved in a car wreck. I fishtailed on a road and careened into a ditch. I was lying on my side after the ordeal, still in my car and still in my seat belt. Windows were shattered and the sides of my ’93 jeep were crumpled inward. When everything around me stopped moving, I realized that yes, I had been in a car accident. A quick check-up and I determined that nothing on me was broken or punctured. I crawled up the side of my jeep and opened the passenger side door. When I emerged, I felt like an alien visitor who had just landed on a foreign planet. I had been driving by myself but I was not alone where I was for about 20 or so yards from me, standing at the edge of a barren road in the middle of the countryside, was an older woman. She called out to me and asked, “Are you alright?” to which I replied, “Yes! I am!” and then told her to “hold on one moment” as I retreated back inside my car to check my things. When I returned to the opening, just a few moments later, she was gone. And not just gone as in “left the scene” gone, she was gone in the sense that she flat out vanished. IF I saw her again later in life, I would not have recognized her. That’s how brief the encounter was.

When you live in Western Pennsylvania, the nearest house can be a football field away. I was in such an area at the time of the accident. And since it was the early spring, all manner of crops were dead; you could see out across the landscape as though you were looking upon a desert. That being said, if I were to sit here and tell you that I have absolutely, positively, no idea where this woman went to, then I am telling you that this was my reality. She was nowhere to be seen.

This event, and the mysteriuos woman who appeared that day, slowly dissipated from my mind. I was only a teenager at the time so it was easy to take a brief brush with death as “no big deal”. If you had asked me then if I believed in angels, I would have answered with quotes 1 or 3 above. The experience was relatively fresh but I was inwardly skeptical; if anything, I felt slighted by the fact that she left me all alone.

A few years later, in the midst of college and a time where one can really lose his faith, my younger brother had a similar car wreck (and within a mile of where mine had been). I was home for the weekend so when I got news that my brother had wrecked, I got my things and went to go pick him up. It was late at night, so it was dark, and from what I had been told, he had swerved to miss a raccoon but somehow he was fine. When I arrived where he was, I was in mild disbelief that he was somehow uninjured. The jeep he’d been driving had apparently rolled and in some regard, “flipped” when he sped off the road and landed in the front yard of another person’s house. The car was totaled, of course, but that’s not the peculiar part. Since it had been snowing that night, the stranger’s yard where he landed was covered in a white blanket. You could not see the grass beneath the white veil. As such, the tire marks from my brother’s car should have been somewhere in the yard; they were not. Somehow, some way, my brother had flown into the yard and landed on his side. No one could explain how this happened; even my brother who told me later that he didn’t remember much other than the fact that he tried desperately to miss a raccoon (the boy’s a pacifist, what can I say?). Bumps and bruises were missing, as was the explanation.

What does something like this mean then? Anyone who surveyed the wreck thought it was a miracle he was ok. I, too, was baffled by the result; relieved first and foremost, but baffled nonetheless. Our parents were more relieved than anything and glad that their deja’vu experience yielded a similar conclusion. My brother lost his car, but not his life that night. The tradeoff was more than fair in anybody’s eyes.

The moment passed, we went back to our lives, but this event, now several years later, holds resonance with me. On that same road, with the same type vehicle, at about the same time in our young lives, my brother had a near identical accident that left him unscathed. Is it mere coincidence? Dumb luck? Bad driving? Or is there somebody, somewhere looking out for my brother and I? A cynic may say that we’re poor drivers and we should have been more careful, but that doesn’t give all the answers. It just points out a generic observation, but doesn’t nearly explain the why or the how.

Such an event may turn you to several outlets for an answer. You may rush to a local psychic for a palm reading or you may read tarot cards to see what “past life” caused you to be in danger more than once, but all of that mumbo jumbo won’t give you what you’re looking for: truth. Many times the unexplainable gives very little to alleviate our angst and lack of understanding. It can make you feel like I did when I neglected my own wreck and make you say things like, “I guess they (angels) are out there.” I never got palm readings or turned to Ouija boards, but I never once just asked: are angels even real? The question seemed silly. As an adult, you don’t like fairy tales; you prefer hard facts to support wild claims of supernatural intervention. But what happens when the experience is so real and so close to the vest that you can’t possibly turn away in denial? I cannot believe that the random events of competing molecules randomly hitting one another can mathematically create scenarios that are meant for creating purpose and meaning (that’s a mouthful, is it not?). This scientific exchange simply does not explain the human condition: a burning desire for meaning and purpose. So if that’s what I feel in my very bones, then it must be something else.

It must have been an angel then, right? I feel like God has a way of knowing how hard our hearts are. He’s battling for them (our hearts) daily so He knows what it takes for us to finally see what He wants us to see and He knows just how to prepare us for what’s next. Do I understand the entirety of His plan? No, absolutely not; nor do I wish to. Sure, a part of me may want to have all those answers but the labor involved with gaining that knowledge would be futile. Still, I must remind myself of this daily – I can’t always have all the answers.

So are angels real or are they not? If you asked me now, I would say ‘yes’. No fluff, no sales pitch; just an honest answer. But this is also my experience, which will be different than anyone else’s and specific to me. So if there’s one thing I do understand, it’s that our story is always unique to us and it’s a story that God wants us to tell as we come to know Him. There’s a certain power in storytelling that reveals other-worldly places. We may hear a great tale about someone surviving a car crash or barely missing a runaway train, but to be up close and personal with a moment can change our perspective forever. Gentle nudges are more than just mere nudges; they are calls to make us more aware as to what is going on around us everyday. Did an angel save my brother that night? It’s quite possible that one did so I won’t disregard that possibility. In a time where I told God I didn’t need Him any longer, something rather amazing happened to snap me back to the real reality: that there is somebody watching out for us.

With that, I just wish I knew what God had against jeeps in our family, but hey, if I’m not supposed to know why, then I’m just not supposed to know why.


  1. The best sentence I’ve read yet from Josh Faltot…
    I cannot believe that the random events of competing molecules randomly hitting one another can mathematically create scenarios that are meant for creating purpose and meaning (that’s a mouthful, is it not?).

  2. This rings true to me. I have had similar experiences and know of others who have also had these encounters (all involving serious car accidents, interestingly enough). I am someone who struggles with the idea of religion; especially organized religion. I’ve generally ascribed to the belief that all (wo)men are created equal and to be kind and loving to others. And while I believe in some kind of higher power, I have no idea what that looks like. However, my personal experiences bring it all to a different light. I like to think it’s family who have passed looking out for me. It brings me great peace to think that I have folks watching and taking care of me when I need it most.

    …But who knows.

    I liked this “downright good thought.”

    • Thanks. It may very well be family that’s protecting you, Polly. That could have been the case for my brother and me too.

      I do not like the term, “organized religion”, either. Ultimately, the pursuit of God becomes a very personal one that can be taken with others who are experiencing the same thing. I do not trust in knowing everything, but I’m definitely eager to continue going after whatever God has in store for me. One of the ways to do that is to ask these types of questions – “Are angels real?” and if so, “Why are they real to me?” It’s interesting to me how our experiences draw us closer to the understanding we long for, but if we don’t continue to push into these types of questions, then we are certainly accepting a complacency that says, “I give up. I’ll never get it.” But that’s not what love is since love draws you closer. You said you struggle with the idea of religion. I would then encourage you to press into these questions and the beliefs you have already. What would a higher power look like to you? Why does there have to be a higher power at all? Digging deeper has a way of uncovering answers (and more questions) that we didn’t even know were there ourselves.

      Thanks again.

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