Why you should believe in angels

Most everyone, it seems, believes in angels. Popular American culture has encouraged this view with classic Christmas films like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “The Bishop’s Wife.” Today in 2017 scores of current television shows and series have angels as their primary theme. An ABC news poll in 2008 found that more than half of all adults, including one in five of those who say they are not religious, believe that they have been protected by a guardian angel during their life.[1] An AP poll in 2011 found that 77 percent of adults believe that angels are real.

Do you believe in angels? I do.

Angel Number One

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Our girls  in 1971.

In 1970 Karon, I, and our two girls were attending the Oregon State camp meeting. We had borrowed a large and luxurious Oldsmobile from Karon’s Dad so we could pull a small trailer we borrowed from L. T. and Helen Flynt. (We were always borrowing things in those days.) One afternoon we were on the way from the somewhat isolated camp ground to town and the car died. Nothing we could do helped and all of my mechanical knowledge could fit onto the head of a pin. We sat by the road for quite a while, now and then trying to start the engine again. No luck. Interestingly no traffic went by at all. We were getting increasingly frustrated when Mimi, our four-year old, suggested that we pray about it. Of course! For some reason, I said, “Good idea, Mimi. Why don’t you pray?” And she promptly prayed a simple, faith-filled prayer that, as I remember, went something like this, “Dear God, please fix this car and don’t let it stop any more. Amen.” That was it.

Shortly thereafter we noticed a man walking towards us down the road, the first person we had seen. He walked over to my open window and asked what was wrong. I told him. He offered that he was a retired GM mechanic and if I would release the hood, he’d take a look. In a few moments, the engine was running, and “it didn’t stop any more.” The man laughingly refused any compensation and walked away. We were able to take our outing, finish the camp meeting, and return the car and trailer without incident. Who was the man? No one at the camp ground knew of a retired GM mechanic. What are the odds of such a person showing up at just the right time? Karon and I are sure that he was an angel who came in answer to a child’s simple prayer of faith.

Angel Number Two

Our first pastorate began one year later in Culver City, California. We were young and inexperienced, but we never doubted that God had called us to that church or that he was working among us. Our church building was on the corner of two busy four-lane boulevards. A KFC, gas station, and a Jack in the Box drive-in sat on the other three corners. Fire engines often roared screaming by during worship services. Our congregation was made up of two main groups: longtime Christians and baby Christians. We never knew what was going to happen. We even had an encounter with a demon-possessed woman. However, before she started attending, we had a much more wonderful visitor.

When you entered the church, stairs led you either up to the sanctuary or down to the basement where there were classrooms and a kitchen. Sunday services took place in the sanctuary. Wednesday evening prayer meeting and Bible study was held in the basement and was a much smaller, more intimate group. After a short Bible study, we spent our time sharing prayer requests, holding hands, and praying aloud. Our eyes were shut when we heard someone open the door upstairs, come down to the basement, and take a seat in our circle. When there was a break in praying, our unknown visitor began praying for us. It was a beautiful, powerful, and altogether heavenly prayer prayed by someone who knew us intimately but also knew that God was at work. His words were filled with power, hope, and strength. He prayed that God would anoint us, use us, and protect us in our fledgling ministry. When he said amen, someone else began to pray. Later, when we opened our eyes, he was gone.

It’s only as I write this, forty-six years later, that I realize that this unseen visitor, this angel, prayed for us before the demon-possessed woman arrived. Her stay among us was brief, maybe six months, but when she was present, worship was interrupted, hymnals dropped, babies cried, and a chilly spirit settled over us like a pall. Karon and I visited in her home one day—I think to pray with her as she had been ill—and as we prayed for God’s Spirit to heal her, Karon opened her eyes to see the woman glaring at us with uncanny, deep hatred. That was our confirmation of the demon possession, which explained so many things. Thank God she never returned, nor did the chill she brought to worship. Our heavenly visitor prepared us for that experience with his powerful prayers. Karon and I are sure that he was an angel.

Angel Number Three

Ten years later we were living in Anderson, Indiana. I was doing a lot of traveling and speaking at missions’ conventions. It was mid-March and normally tulips and daffodils would have been pushing up through the soil by then. But it had been an unusually cold and snowy winter, and a freak blizzard had almost stranded me on the way home from the Indianapolis airport at 2:00 am one morning a week earlier. This week I was driving back and forth to North Webster, Indiana for nightly meetings. The last night as I left the church for home, a two-hour drive, I heard ice hitting the windshield. For the most part, however, the roads were passable, and I continued home without incident until the last thirty minutes or so. Just south of Marion I hit a patch of black ice and my car began sliding sideways across the road at about 40 mph. Thankfully, there was no traffic at this late hour. The two-lane road fell away on both sides and was lined by huge trees and the occasional billboard. As I slid out of control I saw the large iron posts of a billboard careening toward my window and I braced for the inevitable crash. The car lurched to a stop, spilling the hot coffee I had just bought at a Marion drive-in. I quickly realized that I was okay. I jumped out to see if the car was damaged. It was not, having stopped less than six inches from the huge iron post supporting the billboard. Immediately I had a vision of an angel standing between me and the billboard pole as he stopped the car in safety. There could be no other explanation as the ground was slick with mud not yet frozen with no boulders or trees to break the onward rush of my car. I believe that angel saved me. (However, he did not help me find a telephone or summon a tow truck.)

Angel Number Four

My parents, Clair and Retha Shultz, recount the following experience in their book, Tracks of God.[2]  They were in Africa, far from home, having traveled to see a doctor. Before returning home, they spent the night in a guest house. “During the night a hard, lingering rain came down. Roads in the country are usually just dirt roads. When the roads are dry they are very dusty, and rain turns them into very slippery mud. The next morning we saw the road was bad, but thought we could go on, so we started. Soon we started up a slight incline and the car began to skid sideways and even turn around. When we had come to a complete stop we saw a man walking a short distance ahead of us, coming toward us. He came over and spoke to us saying there was no way we could drive on the road. He reminded us that there was another way that would take us to the highway, but it was a tricky road to follow, and we might get lost. He said, ‘If you want me to, I will get in the car with you and direct you so you can reach the highway. When we get there, I will walk back and finish my own journey.’

“He helped me turn the car around, traveled with us, told us to turn here and there, with no road signs to guide us and finally, with his help, we saw the paved road just ahead. When we stopped the car, he got out, said goodbye and started walking back to his former place on the road. Who was he? We had no idea. Did he ask for a tip or money? No! It was a bit strange that he happened to be right there when we were sliding off the road, even helps reverse the car, so it slid over where it should be, and then acted as our guide to the highway.”

I believe that man was an angel.

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What does the Bible say about angels and their interaction with us? They…

  • deliver divine messages (Daniel 8:15-18; Luke 1:11, 9, 26; Acts 8:26)
  • help and serve Christians (Hebrews 1:14).
  • interact with us without our recognizing them (Hebrews 13:2).
  • are used to help answer prayer (Acts 12:7).
  • observe Christians in our lives (1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Timothy 5:21).
  • are curious about Jesus’ intervention for us (1 Peter 1:12).
  • encourage Christians in dangerous times (Acts 27:23-24).
  • are interested in the human mission to spread the truth about Jesus (Luke 15:10); and
  • they care for Christians at death (Luke 16:22; Jude 9).

The following two references bring me great encouragement, and not only in times of trouble.

Hebrews 1:14

14 Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.

thomas-blackshear-african-american-painter-watcher-in-the-nightPsalm 91:11

If you make the Lord your refuge,

if you make the Most High your shelter,

10 no evil will conquer you;

no plague will come near your home.

11 For he will order his angels

to protect you wherever you go.

My brief but unforgettable encounters with angels—and those of others—remind me time after time that God is aware of my needs and takes the initiative to provide for me and my family. It comforts me to remember this because sometimes I forget that God is always with me.

I’m thinking that you, too, have had angelic encounters. Why don’t you share them with me and with others? These stories can only bring encouragement and hope.

[1] http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=5833399

[2] Pp. 92-93, Tracks of God, ©2006 by Clair and Retha Shultz, Chinaberry House, Anderson, IN.

2017

No matter who we are or where we are, each new year brings new challenges and hope in Christ. My daughter, Mimi, says it beautifully.

Along the Narrow Path

The door swung open and we stepped across the threshold of another new year.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself standing at the doorway to 2017. Were you someone eager and hopeful, tiptoed or even crouching, ready to skip or leap with a grin into the open space like a little child ready to get outside and make footprints in fresh, undisturbed snow? Maybe you were reluctant and even afraid to step out, like someone standing under a ledge watching a downpour, not wanting to get drenched in the run to your parked car on the far side of the big parking lot. Some of you might have stared vacantly at the open space ahead, taking great effort to just take one step. Maybe your heart is numb, worn out or depleted from challenges, disappointments, even grief you walked through in 2016. You might have marched through, slamming the door…

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