Angels unaware. Looking back over my journey I wonder how often I’ve encountered them yet never noticed. Signs and wonders were ever around me, but so many times I was oblivious to them. Take for instance the nurse who “just happened” to be on duty and prayed with me throughout the day my middle son was supposed to be born three months premature and wasn’t predicted to live. Or what about the time traffic seemed to part just as my car spun out of control in that terrible rain storm keeping my babies and me safe from harm? Then I could never forget the woman who appeared seemingly out of nowhere with an understanding smile and a helping hand after my grocery cart crashed into a nicely stacked display of macaroni and cheese, my two year old attempting to climb out of the buggy, my one year old screaming, and my five year old attempting to hide under my blouse in embarrassment. This woman was surely heaven sent.
Several years later yet another angel appeared during a particularly painful time in my life. I was legally separated from an abusive husband and attempting to raise three children while at the same time trying to sort out God’s will for the next step in my life. To be honest, there wasn’t much time or desire for socializing. I had begun dating my spouse at the time when I was barely seventeen. I was married at eighteen, had my first child at nineteen, and was the mother of three by age twenty-three. Not only was I a busy young mother, my estranged husband had been extremely possessive of my time. As a result, I never really experienced the opportunity to learn how to build true friendships with other women.
Since moving out on my own, I had found a local church where I felt I could quietly blend in. I was in need of grace in heaping doses. To be honest, had it been left up to me, I would have preferred to spend most weekends curled up in a ball under a blanket hidden from the world. I had a wounded soul and a broken heart, and I sure couldn’t see why God would want to use someone like me who had so managed to miss the mark.
Walking through the doors of that church gymnasium I felt completely out of place, alone, and foreign. It wasn’t that church was unfamiliar, but the pain and vulnerability I carried inside was. With a forced smile I drew a deep breath and led three bickering siblings toward the youth department. Friends from school had invited the kids to youth Bible study, and they were excited to be there. My plan had been to drop them off, then find a quiet spot to go drink coffee while I waited for Bible study to be over and church to begin.
Just as I was about to sneak out of the side door, I heard the sweetest voice ask, “Well where do you think you are going Missy?” I looked up to see a woman about my Mom’s age and height smiling up at me. She a hand on one hip, and a twinkle in her eye that let me know in no uncertain terms she could handle herself. I could see there was no use challenging her, and something in her pleasant, gentle manner removed my desire to try. She took me by the arm and led me up a flight of stairs, all the while giving me the scoop on the ladies in her class. Before I could protest, I found myself standing in front of about fifteen women, each with an amused, welcoming grin on her face.
After a few brief introductions and prayer requests were given, this dear, sweet woman began to pray. It was then I saw a glimpse of her angel wings. One could not help but feel her connection with her heavenly Father as she began communicating with Him one on one, daughter to Father. It was clear she spoke with Him often, especially regarding these ladies and their concerns. A reverent atmosphere of peaceful anticipation descended as she prayed, then opened her Bible to read the scripture for the day.
I will never forget the lesson that Sunday. It was about how Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman at the well offering forgiveness, deliverance, and unmerited grace. This angel of a woman lovingly shared how no matter what we have done, no matter how big of a mess we have made of our lives, nothing is so bad that God cannot or will not forgive and restore us. In fact, she reminded how He seeks us out even in the worst of circumstances. In Samaria, Jesus reached out to a woman who was considered an outcast of her society and who lived in sin. He honestly acknowledged her current condition as she confessed, but He did not turn away from her. Instead He did something almost unheard of in His time. He revealed her value apart from her sin. He offered her forgiveness, hope, and eternal life. He provided her the means to restore her dignity. This was a message I so desperately needed to hear from my Savior.
After class this dear lady pointed at me and with a sassy wink said, “You, don’t go anywhere.” I sat waiting patiently as others talked for a moment. Once everyone was gone, she came over and sat down beside me, took my hands in hers and asked if she could pray with me. She did, and I began to sob releasing the pain pent up in my heart. She hugged me, and invited me to come back the following Sunday. Before getting up to leave she took my face in her hands, looked me in the eyes, and told me to hold on for dear life. She reminded me that this was but a portion of my life, and that this too would pass. She then offered a slice of spiritual wisdom that has followed me to this day. She advised me to seek out what God had in store to bring out of this experience for His good somewhere down the road. Once again, she winked and said with the highest of confidence, “God’s got this!”
We became very good friends, this feisty little lady and I. We made it a point to eat lunch together at least once a week. She often brought me little gifts like bookmarks or pretty inspirational pens and stationary. These meant so much to me during this time of healing. She taught me to laugh at my mistakes and not take myself so seriously. We laughed, we cried, we shared tips on thrift store shopping. She personified the fruits of the spirit – especially those of joy, peace, kindness, and love. Most important, she reflected the character of Christ.
Time has passed, wounds have healed, and understanding has increased. It is now my turn to be a vessel allowing God to fill and use me. I love it whenever He allows me to work as one of His secret agents…an angel in disguise. He still sends a few my way, and at times I can almost see Him wink, smile mischievously, and remind me, He’s got this.
My prayer for you is that wherever you are, whatever challenges you face, God will pour down His love and grace upon you. I pray He will send an angel across your path. When He does, I hope you will immediately remember what you read here today. When you do, I hope you see a wink, a grin, ant that you can rest in the confidence that God’s got this.
Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Meister Eckhart “God does not ask anything else except that you let yourself go and let God be God in you.”