Have you ever seen an angel?
Not this kind:
No, I mean a servant or messenger of God.
Have you ever seen one, or maybe think you have? If so, what did he… she… um… what did the angel look like? I’m guessing there were no wings, no fancy robe, no harp….
Scripture gives us not much in the way of a description of angels. We might think they are awesome or somewhat fearful, since their first words to men are often, “Do not be afraid.” But is that because they are fearful, or because the person they are visiting is in a situation that frightens them? And Michael seems like one tough dawg ~ excuse me: archangel ~ based on the battle in Revelation 12.
Mostly, when we think of angels, we think of something like this:
But Scripture implies that angels are not always obviously spiritual beings. In Genesis 19, Abraham’s nephew, Lot, invites two angels to spend the night in his home, thinking they were just men. In Numbers 22, Balaam’s donkey saw an angel that Balaam didn't even know was there. And Hebrews 13:2 tells us to be sure to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have shown hospitality to angels, without knowing it.
And then recently, I came upon today's highlighted verse, Hebrews 1:14 ~ “Are angels not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” and I found myself focused on the word “ministering”. What does that mean, “to minister”? The dictionary says it means to “attend to the needs of; to provide for”. But that seemed so... meek. I mean, for an angel. Angels are either supposed to flit around playing songs of worship, or they are fierce warriors of God. Or sometimes we hear stories from friends, or from the internet, of guardian angels who have rescued someone, or protected them. Psalm 91 says "He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." But ministering? That sounds like bringing a casserole, or sitting next to you when you’re crying… patting your shoulder and saying, “there, there” a lot.
Two years ago, my family went to Washington DC, and as you probably know, seeing all the things there is to see in DC requires a lot of walking. Additionally, DC requires a lot of hurrying, as there’s always more to see than there is time to see it. Well, one day we were hurrying from one place to another, walking a couple blocks to get there, and my poor Awesome Girl was getting a terrible blister on her foot. I think she’d forgotten socks, and her tennis shoes were beginning to get to her. But we were in a hurry, so I just keep urging her along, promising that as soon as we got to the museum, I’d find some sort of information booth, and get a band-aid. But until we got there, she was just going to have to tough it out. Oh, and can ya move a little faster, we’re trying to stay on schedule! (Poor thing. I’m a pretty strict cruise director when it comes to vacation itineraries….) So she’s crying, and I’m getting irritated, because frankly, there is nothing I can do to solve this problem! I’m sorry that I don’t have a band-aid, but I don’t! I can’t make one materialize out of thin air! (Although once, I did create a band-aid for her out of a bit of torn Kleenex, and some stickers from In-n-Out Burger that I found in my purse. That’s probably why she couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t solve her problem this time. I’ve set a standard for myself I can’t live up to….)
Finally, in desperation, I pulled her away from the sidewalk and sat down on a curb. Not in the street, but in the parking lot of the Federal Bureau of Bureaucracy or the National Department of Red Tape. Or something like that... Right between two cars, where we could have a little privacy. And I said to her as clearly as I could, that I was very sorry, but I simply did not have a band-aid, and I knew she was in pain, but all we could do was keep walking until we got to the museum, and then I would do my very best to solve her problem but for now would she please just do the best she could so that we could get there?
And right then, the window rolled down on the car next to us.
Um. Hi. (*feeble smile*)
I was so embarrassed. Don’t mind me, I’m just Jane Q. Tourist from Suburb, U.S.A., sitting on a curb, having this weird conversation with my daughter. I, um, didn’t know we had an audience…
But before I could say anything, he smiled, and reached his hand out the window, and said, “Here you go.” And he handed me a band-aid.
Now, you can believe that on that June day, in the middle of the morning, we just happened to sit on the curb of the parking lot of the office building that just happened to be the location of the one car that happened to have an occupant that happened to have a band-aid.
Or you can believe that angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister.
I know what I believe.