Several years ago, my uncle had a massive heart attack while driving. He pulled over, alone on the road, and there was only one witness who saw him in distress. She hurried to a nearby fire station and alerted the paramedics. They arrived just in time to save my uncle’s life. Officers at the scene got the woman’s name and address; however, days later we learned that the address was a vacant lot, and the woman could not be found. An angel? My family thinks so. Had it not been for her, my uncle surely would have died.
I had my own encounter with an angel a few years after my Grandma Dorothy passed away. Grandma had been my friend and confidant, someone who always seemed to understand me so well, especially during those awkward, adolescent years when I didn’t understand myself. It seemed fitting that God took her Home on an Easter Sunday, but it left me melancholy in subsequent years as the Easter weekend approached.
My angel arrived on a Good Friday. I had skipped the afternoon church service and chose instead to go home and feel sorry for myself. I was in a valley in my life and also a very new Christian. I hadn’t yet learned the true meaning of faith or eternal life, and I missed my grandma terribly.
Toward sunset, there was on knock on my apartment door. When I answered it, I found a young, petite Asian woman carrying a medium-sized, black suitcase. She introduced herself as an artist and said that she was a college student selling art to earn her way through school. She asked if she could show me her work. I don’t know why I let her in, usually I’m not overly-friendly to solicitors, but for some unknown reason I invited her into my living room.
We sat on my sofa, and she opened the suitcase. Inside, there were small compartments filled with hand-painted eggs. Each design was unique and beautiful. As I admired them, she got up and studied the family photographs on the fireplace mantel. She picked up a framed photo of Grandma Dorothy taken when she was in her mid-twenties. “This lady looks like you,” the girl said. I explained that it was my grandmother. She studied the photograph as she held it gently in her hands. “She was very kind to you, a nice lady. I know that she loved you so much.” The words flowed into me. They couldn’t have been more soothing than if Grandma Dorothy had said them herself—and maybe she had.
The girl rummaged through her case and produced an egg nestled inside of a small plexiglass box. “This is the one I choose for you,” she said. “It reminds me of you and your grandmother.” The watercolor design was simple. It had two small yellow butterflies flying near a sprig of forget-me-nots. How could she have known that yellow butterflies had such significance for me?
“You like what I do?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered. “It’s beautiful.”
“New life,” she responded matter-of-factly. “The egg means new life. Maybe a new beginning for you?”
I smiled as I realized that, indeed, my newfound faith in God was a new beginning.
After the young woman left, I looked out my front window, curious to see where she’d go. But there was no sign of her. Was she an angel? Maybe not in the sense that she came from heaven on a pair of wings, but I do believe that she was sent from God not only to soothe my aching heart, but also to remind me that He was with me.
Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” In today’s society, this advice can be risky, but still, amidst our uncertainty about one another, God finds ways of bringing us together in accordance with His will.
God sometimes speaks through the voices of other people, but it’s not always the people from whom we expect to hear Him. A college student selling her art, a homeless person pushing a shopping cart filled with meager possessions, a young athlete competing in the Special Olympics—all of these people, in their own ways, might be messengers from God.
Without you knowing it, God could be using you to meet someone’s need just as the aspiring artist met my need that day. So listen when God speaks to your heart. Listen when He tells you to offer a kind word, or to perform a good deed. Give of yourself, because He may be using you. You never know, you might be somebody’s angel.
Please use me to help with your works here on Earth, and open my eyes to the angels you bring into my life.