Forget not to show love unto strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
— Hebrews 13:2
Entertaining angels unaware. Hmmm … an interesting notion and one I am sure each of us has encountered at some time in our lives. Or at least, I know I have!
My favorite story about this is that of my dear friend, Joy Bollinger (Say It With Joy Blog)
who is the brave lady who brought me to the Lord when I was a hard, crass 23-year-old. A woman, by the way, who I truly believe God used as an “angel” in my life to woo me to Him. And trust me—I was totally “unawares”!
Anyway, Joy wrote a story called “The Angel Who Lived Upstairs,” which is a true account of when she was young airline stewardess who was called in to work late one night during a snowstorm. Back then, Joy tells me, you didn’t say no to the airlines if they told you to come in, so she did, traipsing to the bus stop on three-inch heels in the snow, with a suitcase, purse, and garment bag, to boot.
The street was a silent blanket of white with no human beings or vehicles stirring … until she saw headlights. Unfortunately, it was car that passed slowly by, turning at the next block. Goosebumps popped when that same car passed two more times before it parked across the street and the driver got out to pop his hood, eyes fixed on her the entire time. “God, help me!” she prayed when the hood slammed shut and the stranger started walking her way.
“Would you like to share my taxi?” a voice said behind her, and she whirled around to see a man dressed in an airline uniform at the same time a set of headlights appeared down the street. Long story short, Joy was a basket case in the backseat of that taxi, barely speaking to the airline pilot, although she did ask where he lived. “I live upstairs in your building,” he replied calmly.
Two days later, when she returned home, she immediately asked the landlord for the apartment number and name of the airline pilot who lived upstairs, explaining she wished to personally deliver a card and small gift. The super looked at her bewildered, scratched the back of his head, and said, “You and your roommate are the only airline personnel living in this building.”
Do I believe God sends angels to assist us? Oh, you bet! Psalm 91:11 says “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,” and I think Joy’s story is a clear example of this. But sometimes God uses mere human beings as “angels” in our lives as well. Like the time my girlfriend and I were walking home at the age of 15 at 2:00 AM in the morning and a carload of guys screeched to a stop beside us, car doors flying open so they could chase us down. My friend and I ran like the devil to the backyard of the house we were in front of—she sprinting one way through backyards to head home and me circling the house with two guys on my heels.
Chest heaving, I flew up to that front door screaming and rang the doorbell in panic, the two would-be abductors mere yards behind. Imagine my shock—and theirs—when the door wheeled open within seconds by the near-deaf elderly widow who lived there. Needless to say, those guys hightailed it out of there, and I was literally saved by the bell. Or by an “angel” appointed by God? I had no use for God at the time, but even I was aware that the chances of an elderly near-deaf woman hearing my screams in the middle of the night, much less opening the door at 2:00 AM in the morning, were slim to nil.
So, yes, I have come to believe that God not only uses supernatural angels in our lives, but human ones too. In fact, I just met one at the skilled nursing facility where my Aunt Julie resides. You see, Keith and I play Uno and drink coffee with AJ several times a week in the dining room there, and a few weeks ago, this little old guy in a wheelchair shuffles up using his feet and slowly circles our table, giving us a glassy-eyed smile that I have to admit, made me think he was a few cards shy of a full deck. “Hello,” I said with a return smile, then went right back to playing cards because I learned if I strike up a conversation with anyone else when I’m with AJ, she gets her feelings hurt, feeling slighted. So against my grain, I ignored the poor guy till he scuffled away.
The next week, the wheelchair roamer was sitting outside by the door when I came in. “Hello,” I said to him with a big smile, “my name is Julie—what’s yours?” “Jack,” he says, and we enjoyed a brief conversation about the weather. All at once, Jack stops and looks up with serious eyes. “Pardon me,” he says calmly, but would you mind if I ask you a question that I ask everybody I meet?” “Sure, Jack,” I say, somewhat curious, “you can ask me anything.” Penetrating blue eyes bore into mine as he gently takes my hand and says, “Tell me, Julie—do you Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” Tears stung. “Yes, Jack,” I say with a lump in my throat, smiling despite the moisture in my eyes. “In fact, the truth is, I would not want to take another breath without Him.” The familiar grin slowly spread across his face, beaming like the sun overhead. “Then you’re my sister in Christ, and I love you!” he says, near reducing me to a blubbering mass of tears.
Upon first sight, Pastor Jack (I since found out he used to pastor a church before he had a stroke), seemed to be a poor, unfortunate soul shuffling around a nursing home in a wheelchair who may or may not have his full mind. But God showed me in that moment that Jack—like all of us—are simply one of His many angels on earth, sent to do His bidding at the least likely moments. In a store. In a doctor’s office. In a nursing home—anytime, anywhere, with any person. I don’t know about you, but that makes me stop and repent for all the times I ignored people or was rude or took out my frustrations on some poor, unsuspecting soul. I would so much rather be an “angel” sent by our God to bring a smile, a tear of joy or a beam of hope into someone’s life, wouldn’t you?
I leave you with a picture of Pastor Jack, my new friend in Christ, and I hope and pray that I myself and each of you encounter an “angel unawares” this weekend. And God help us … may it be us!
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