I had just finished teaching a Bible study when I noticed a woman waiting to speak to me. I had taught the story of Balaam’s Donkey from Numbers, Chapter 22-23. As the story goes, an angel of the Lord, with a drawn sword, blocks the donkey’s path. The poor donkey is beaten by Balaam until God gives that donkey the ability to speak, and Balaam the ability to see the angel! I spoke about the presence of God’s angels in our world, mentioned Billy Graham’s book on the subject (my favorite), and that prompted the woman to come speak with me.
Cathy told me that her husband had passed away last April at the age of 55. He had struggled with brain cancer for seven years. He died knowing God and committed to Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The family was together as they scattered his ashes on a mountain in Colorado. She held out her cell phone and showed me a copy of a photo taken from that spot. Cathy said that when her son developed his pictures they noticed the shape of the clouds that had gathered that day. One of the clouds is shaped like an angel. She said that all of them were blessed, believing that God had sent them a message of encouragement. I asked her if I could use a copy of the photo for my post.
The Bible speaks frequently about God’s angels but most Christians, myself included, don’t know very much about them. Billy Graham wrote his book, Angels, because he said he wanted to preach a sermon and “found practically nothing in my library. . .written on the subject in this century” (Preface to Angels by Billy Graham). So, I thought I would write a couple of blog posts, based on Billy Graham’s book. We should think about God’s angels more often!
John Calvin, a theologian, said, “The angels are dispensers and administrators of the divine beneficence toward us; they regard our safety, undertake our defense, direct our ways, and exercise a constant solicitude that no evil befall us” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, I). I wonder how many times we have been kept from harm, or led another direction because of one of God’s angels? Paul was a prisoner accused of treason to the Roman government. He was aboard a ship headed for Rome when a storm arose near the island of Crete. When those on board feared for their lives Paul told them that an angel had appeared to him and said that he would face trial before Caesar. He then told his captors, “so keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island” (Acts 27:23-26). Later a centurion kept his soldiers from killing all of the prisoners from that ship. I think he believed he needed to follow the angel’s advice too! God can use angels to direct our ways. Don’t you wonder how many times that has happened in your life? “For God commands his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).
God gave Balaam the ability to see the angel before him. What do angels look like? Billy Graham writes, “Angels are created spirit beings who can become visible when necessary. They can appear and disappear. They can think, feel, will and display emotions” (Page 31, Angels). St. Francis de Sales said, “Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.” A woman told me one day about standing in a hospital room, watching her daughter’s life fade away. She said the room was so cold . . . but then she felt a warmth surround her, as if arms had wrapped a blanket around her. That was the moment her daughter died. She saw no one and believes that God sent an angel to assure her and give her comfort She said she had not spoken of that story to very many people, fearful of what they might think – but the moment was as real to her as this blog that speaks of it.
Why are we afraid to share the “God moments” with other people? I’ve often said that one of the best ways you can know that you have experienced a time with God is that it is difficult to find human vocabulary that is adequate to describe it. I’ve had the privilege of hearing many stories like the ones I have shared today. I KNOW angels are real and at work in our world. The Bible says so – and so have many of God’s children. We will talk more about the subject in the next blog but until then, let’s pray that God would open our eyes to see what he is actively doing in our lives. “For God commands his angels concerning you.” I don’t want any of us to miss what they are saying!