Driving down Asotin grade on Washington State's Highway 129, you will find a series of serpentine switchbacks, dropping steeply into the town of Asotin.

I'm remembering the time when my wife and I, with our young son, were driving home on that road in our Ford pickup. Ryan had just celebrated his third birthday.

Back in those days, seatbelts weren't emphasized — and a child's car seat? Well, let's just say our culture was on a needed learning curve. Ryan was seated by the passenger door, Nancy was in the middle, and we were having a grand time talking and laughing about his toddler antics.

Glancing over at my small son, I said, "Ryan, sit close to your mom."

In the next instant, my eyes returned to the road, and then time seemed to go into slow motion — just like in the movies.

A third of the way down the mountain, just as we began a tight switchback turn to the left, the pickup's passenger door suddenly flung open, centrifugal force slinging it to the end of its hinges.

I can remember small details of that moment as though it happened yesterday. The whine of the truck tires as we rounded the corner ... the wind blowing through the cab ... and the speedometer needle on 35.

And in the rearview mirror, a car right behind us.

Lunging across Nancy's lap, grasping for my boy, I was an instant too late, and Ryan tumbled out of the pickup. Somehow I managed to keep the pickup on the road as we watched, in sheer terror, our only child slipping into space.

I can't explain what happened next.

Seconds passed, but instead of seeing our little boy roll and tumble onto the highway behind us, we saw him suspended in midair, outside of the pickup. When I realized he wasn't falling to the pavement, I yelled for my wife to grab him. She slid over to the edge of the seat, tires still squealing, the door still completely open to the limit of its hinges, as she reached out as far as she could, grabbing Ryan's small chubby arms and pulling him back into the truck.

Shaking uncontrollably, I found a place to pull over.

Ryan was now in the middle of the benchseat between us. The reality of what we had just experienced and witnessed — and what Ryan had been saved from — came down on us like a physical weight, and we wept.

Unseen hands had held 3-year-old Ryan above the pavement, suspended before our eyes in midair.

No, I can't explain it, but I saw it. We saw it with our own eyes. And to this day, when I think of that moment, I thank God. As you may guess, one of the most meaningful Bible verses in my life says, "For he (God) will order his angels to protect you wherever you go."

Angels are like the wind. You may not see them, but you see the evidence of their protecting presence. Dispatched by God, they work every day of our lives to guard us and hold us up.

I venture to say that each one of you reading these words has angel fingerprints all over you.

I know Ryan does.

The Rev. Micah Smith is president and founder of Global Gateway Network (www.globalgatewaynetwork.org), author of "Heaven's Heartbeat," and a Tri-City Herald Spiritual Life contributor. He enjoys trail running and coffee roasting with family and friends. email: micahs68@gmail.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.