An endangered child is delivered to safety by a pair of mysterious men dressed in white.
We considered our neighborhood safe. Our nine-year-old son Adam often rode his bike with friends, but our six-year-old daughter Tara stayed close to our home.
During our years spent attending seminary, we lived in low-income housing in a North Texas neighborhood, without any trees or much grass in the yards. Everyone had an almost identical, small house, with similar-colored bricks and roofing—tract housing at its best—and that’s all we could afford.
Late one summer afternoon, Adam failed to show up for our evening meal. When he didn’t respond to his dad’s calls to come home, I asked Tara, “Will you go find your brother? Tell him to come home for dinner.”
As she walked toward the door, I added, “Stay out of the street. And come straight home.”
Tara skipped out the front door, excited about her assignment and the opportunity to tell her brother what to do.
A few minutes later, Adam bolted through the door—without Tara. So I asked him, “Where is your sister?”
“I raced her home and beat her here,” Adam said.
I looked out the kitchen window toward our unfenced backyard and the adjoining sidewalk, but I couldn’t see Tara. Concerned, I walked outside and looked in the front yard and the street in front of our house. I couldn’t see our daughter.
Panicked by her absence, I told my husband Dan, “I’m going to find Tara.”
I jogged to the end of the sidewalk. When I turned the corner, I saw Tara throw a stick down and turn around toward me. Relieved, I demanded, “Where have you been?”
Startled by my sudden appearance and intensity, Tara said, “Sorry, Mommy.”
“I told you that dinner was ready. What took you so long?” As I continued to probe Tara about her whereabouts during the last few minutes, tears filled her bright, green eyes. She said nothing until I calmed down.
“I saw Adam on his bicycle at the end of the street. So I followed him.” She took a big breath and said, “A scary man stopped his car and rolled his window down.”
My heart began to race, as I realized the danger my daughter might have encountered just a few moments earlier.
“The man wanted me to come over to his car,” she explained. “But you told me to never talk to strangers. So I picked up a stick and started to walk away.”
“You did the right thing,” I said.
“The stranger said something to me, but I didn’t understand him.” A wrinkle appeared on Tara’s forehead.
Where is this story going? I thought. What just happened here?
“The man looked behind me, and he acted scared. Then, he just drove off—real fast.” Tara waved her hand, like she shooed a fly away.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus,” I whispered.
Then Tara’s story took a remarkable twist, “When I looked behind me, I saw two big men standing there, right behind where the car had stopped. They were watching me.”
Tara’s eyes brightened, as she continued to describe her protectors, “They wore white clothes. One of them had a big, gold sword with little drawings on the handle.” Tara traced a line on the palm of her hand, as she recalled the etchings on the sword.
“His sword was really long—from his waist to the ground.” As Tara described the sword, she bent over to her side and reached to the ground with one hand and up toward the sky with the other.
I listened silently as Tara finished telling her story. “One of those big men smiled and told me not to be scared anymore. He told me to throw my stick down and go home. When I turned around, I saw you, Mommy.”
I saw Tara throw down her stick, but I didn ’t see any men. What on earth had just happened to my daughter?