Angels Abound

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality as angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:1-2

We have all had those moments when we meet someone who is despairing. They’re trapped by their circumstances and have nowhere to turn. Their hope has been beaten down. For that individual, it seems they’ve reached a dead-end in life.

Making a difference

But there are wonderful stories of people who happen to be there when these moments arrive. They see the despair and act, knowing they can make a difference. They put aside their appointed rounds at these times and help. In these moments they become angels.

I read recently about a man from California whose car was sputtering on the highway.  Fortunately, he was able to coast into a nearby gas station and avoided blocking traffic. He called a tow truck company and waited.

As he was waiting, he saw a woman collapse to the ground. Without thinking, he went to her aid. Nothing seemed physically wrong with her, but she was sobbing and obviously distressed. She was driving an old Suburban, filled with clothes and three young children. Then everything came into focus for him—she wasn’t hurt; she was overcome.

He helped her up and began to ask her questions.

Over a few moments, he pieced together what had brought her to this point of despair. Her boyfriend had left her and the three children two months earlier. He had left her no money and no way to be contacted. She had no job and the rent was due.

For five years, she had not spoken to her parents. She had taken up with this man despite their disapproval and separated herself from her family. Now, five years and three children later, she had no place to turn.

She had called her parents and told them what happened. They told her to come home. She had left and began to drive back to her parents’ home, many miles away. But she had miscalculated the cost and was left at this gas station with no money, only a few hundred miles from her destination.

She had walked into the gas station office and asked if they would provide her with gas for the final miles she had to drive. They said no. She was so close to safety but had no way to get there. In that moment the events of her life had overwhelmed her, and she collapsed.

This was the man’s decision point: was he being conned, or was her story sincere? He chose to believe her. The old car, the pile of belongings, and the three young children were clues that she was being truthful.

The Decision

The man reached into his wallet and filled her tank. At a nearby McDonald’s he bought a couple bags of food for her and the children. Overcome with gratitude she asked, “Are you an angel or something?” Not knowing how to answer, he replied, “I’m not sure, maybe the regular angels are busy today and needed a stand-in.”

He had a lot to process in those few moments before deciding to act. Was she trying to scam him? What about his own problems? These were his thoughts. Deciding whether he was an angel never entered his mind.

But perhaps he was an angel in this moment.

Perhaps this was his day to be a tool for God. In my own life, I have had similar moments. Some I responded to and some I didn’t. There was the time in Disney World when I saw a man collapse and hit his head. Without any real thought, I found myself sitting next to him and comforting him as he emerged from a sleepy state of unconsciousness. When real medical help arrived, I made my way through the gathered crowd and silently went away.

But there have been other times when I did not act, only to feel sheepish as the hours passed. I found myself feeling sad that I hadn’t helped. Those moments built up my resolve to help the next time.

We all have these moments

We all have these moments; they are part of our individual journeys in life. They are personal and very intimate. These are moments of becoming an angel—moments when we are immediately thrust into God’s plans for us to help others.

Fortunately, I have had many people in my life whose good character has shown me how it’s done. People like EMTs. Or my friends Geoff, Lou, or Paul. They act quickly and care. These individuals are able to step away from their intended paths and move compassionately to aid others. They are angels offering a helping hand.

I never did find out the name of the man who wrote this story. He simply signed it “Anonymous.” But I can answer the woman’s question: He was a regular angel, not a stand in. I believe this is how God works. He uses us to help those in desperate need of help.

At some point, each of us will have to decide if we will help someone in need and momentarily become one of God’s angels.

How will we choose?

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Dr. Bruce L. Hartman is the author of Jesus & Co. and Your Faith Has Made You Well.

Photo by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

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