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River Angel

He was sure he'd heard someone call his name as he navigated the swollen river, but there was no one around…or was there?

An illustration of a man in a motor boat; the boat's wake resembles an angel.

Since sunup I’d been out on the Missouri River, riding around in my 14-foot metal boat. The river was running high and fast, swollen from heavy fall rains. Lots of debris floated past, mainly branches from the willow trees that grew along the shore.

Every once in a while an entangled mess would come my way, and I’d have to maneuver around it. But I was used to the outdoors, and to adventure–small boats, single-engine planes, hiking in nature.

I liked excitement, and I liked that God always made sure I came home safe. This evening I would thank him properly over a fresh duck dinner with my wife.

As I motored along, the sun was high in a bright blue sky. A raccoon at the water’s edge took a little dip. A doe slipped quickly, silently through the trees. Nature was abundantly on display, but I had not come across one other boat the whole day.

“Bill!” The call startled me. Who had snuck up on my boat like that?

I turned around and looked in every direction. Hunters don’t play games. There was no one out here on the river. No one but me. Just as I’d suspected. But still, I could have sworn I heard my name, clear as day.


This time the call came with more urgency. It was a warning call. Unmistakably.

I jerked around to look over my shoulder. Whoa! An enormous log barreled straight toward me. I turned the motor and swerved my little boat out of its path. Seconds later it passed by me. The log must have been 20 feet long and three feet wide. Probably washed away from one of the dams upriver.

About 100 yards downstream was an empty steel barge moored along the shore. The log hit the steel barge so hard and fast that the barge was launched up into the air before finally falling back into the water. That could have been me!

I could barely catch my breath. My hands were shaking so hard I couldn’t hold onto the motor. If I hadn’t moved out of that log’s path, I knew I’d be dead.

That night when I got home from my latest adventure, I had more than our dinner to thank the Lord for. “I heard an angel out on the river today,” I told my wife. “An angel called my name–and saved my life.”


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