Sarah had always been intrigued by the Scripture, “Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
She knew angels and God’s faithful weren’t the same. Yet, she had heard stories, even Bible stories about angels appearing to men, and she knew that to be true.
She knew an older couple in her neighborhood, John and Mary, who had very little but always seemed to have what they needed. They had food and shelter, not in abundance, but their needs were met.
One day she was talking with John on the sidewalk, just passing time, when he said, “You know Sarah, I was visited by an angel today. It was an awesome thing, you know what I mean?”
Sarah looked at him intently and said, “Really?” She didn’t believe he really had but didn’t want to take his joy away. “Why don’t you tell me about it, John?”
The look he gave her said it all, “You don’t believe me, do you?” Mumbling, he turned away. “No one does, but it’s true, real.”
His look of dejection pierced her heart. “Wait, John. I really do want to hear. I’ve thought about that some myself.”
The older man turned back, the look of wonder returning to his eyes as he stared at some point behind her. Finally, she turned, thinking she would see something, or someone, standing further back on the sidewalk. She felt a warmth and noticed the sun seemed a little brighter. “John, will you tell me?” she asked softly.
Finally, he said, “You know Mary has been very sick for quite a while. I’ve had no money to take her to the doctor. Finally, I called the office and they told me to go ahead and bring her in. They said they would see her anyway and I could settle with them later when my check came in.” He rubbed his eyes with the back of his dingy sleeve and looked back into her eyes.
“John,” she asked gently. “Are you okay? Can I get you a drink of water or something?”
The old man shook his head and said, “No, I’ll be fine.” He took a deep breath and continued. “That’s not all the story. The doctor had helped us like that before. He told me, without the medication, I wouldn’t be able to keep my Mary with me, at home.” Once again John looked off into the distance. This time Sarah didn’t know if he was seeing the angel or feeling desperate. “Anyway,” he continued, “The doctor gave me the prescription to refill for her. But it’s expensive and I just didn’t have the money. Worse than that, we would never have that much left over.” He sniffed and continued, “I walked the six blocks from our house with that piece of paper in my pocket, knowing I couldn’t fill it and help her, but I had to try.”
Sarah felt the pain she saw in his eyes and put her hand on his arm. “I’m so sorry, John. How much would it cost, I’ll be happy to cover the cost myself.”
John smiled and thanked her, then said, “Well, that would be nice of you, but you see the story doesn’t end there.” The smile spread from his face to his eyes as he continued. “You see, I went into the drug store, the one down from where we live, and handed the girl the piece of paper. I asked her how much it would cost to get it filled this time, and she told me it would be $175. I left it with her and turned, walking out. I knew I wouldn’t be back to pick it up, but couldn’t admit that to her, or to myself. I went out and squatted against the building. Couldn’t keep the tears back, you know?” He took another deep breath. “I cried so hard I couldn’t see or breathe.” He wiped his eyes again as if he were reliving the incident. “After a while, maybe an hour, this guy drives up in an old pickup. He left the motor running while he jumped out and came over to me, handing me something. It was money, you know, a lot of money. I said hey, buddy I can’t keep this, you need it yourself.”
After a deep shudder, he continued. “The man turned while he was getting back into his truck and said, ‘Keep it, someone else gave it to me and told me to bring it to you. He even told me where to find you.’ Well, you can imagine how shocked I was after I counted it. $175, exact, to the penny!” He continued, “I just stared at him as he was getting back into the pickup.”
Sarah shivered and asked, “John, what did you do then? I mean that’s pretty spooky.”
He said, “I thanked the man, of course. ‘This will let me keep my wife,’ I shouted.”
John shook his head. “Funny thing, that. After I said thanks again, he said, ‘Don’t thank me, thank the one who sent me.’”
“Little lady,” he said, “I don’t know what you believe, or who you trust to take care of you, but I suggest you look into the ‘Good Book’ and listen to what you read.”
She watched John, as he walked away with pep in his step and joy in his eyes. She shook her head. As she turned to walk home, she wondered if she had ever been in the presence of an angel. “No,” she thought, “Probably not.”
She knew she had never had John’s look of joy the way he had today. As usual, though, life and the cares of this world crowded in on her and she soon forgot John and his experience.
Sarah went about her business, not thinking about it much more, until one night she was laying across her bed praying for a friend who was very ill and suffering greatly. No one knew how long her friend might live, but Sarah knew she couldn’t continue to beg for God to keep her here on this earth, not the way she was now. She knew her friend wanted everyone to just ask for His mercy and will to be done, but it was almost impossible for Sarah to pray those words. She was wracked with tears and a broken heart, but somehow she found the words. “Father, show your mercy to Janice. Take away the pain of her tortured days and medicated nights. I know we will hurt when she’s gone, but we hurt now for her pain. Please, do Your will, not ours.”
She wanted to pray all through the night, never ceasing, being vigilant, standing in the gap… but she just couldn’t. Sleep finally overtook her, and she slept soundly, until early morning when she felt a feather like a breeze on her shoulder.
She opened her eyes, sensing an unusual warmth in the room. It was beautiful and filled with sunlight, even though she knew the sun had not come up yet. It was dark outside her window.
She gasped. There on the side of the bed, radiant and beautiful, was her friend Janice. Sarah sat up Indian style, just as Janice was sitting. The same way they used to when they shared a room and planned retreats. They were soon laughing and talking, planning the next retreat for one day when they would both be together again. Sarah knew her prayer had been answered. A small tear dropped from her eye.
Sarah reached over, wanting to touch her friend, to hold her. Janice reluctantly pulled back, and said, “You can’t touch me, not now. One day we’ll be together again. I just want to thank you for finally releasing me, for letting me go from this world.”
“Janice, what are you talking about? I can’t release anyone or keep anyone here. It’s God’s Will that does that.”
“Sometimes, in our finite, earthly surroundings, we can’t understand the infinite Kingdom. Tonight, in your prayers for me, you thought of what God wanted above what you wanted, and gave up your will. He honored your prayer.”
Sarah’s heart filled with a mixture of sadness and joy. “Janice, are you an angel now?” She just had to ask.
“No, Sarah,” Janice answered in a soft voice, “We will never be angels, the Father has made them to serve on earth when someone needs them. He’s made us to be higher than the angels, and to worship Him.” She looked at her friend again, and said, “I have to go now; I have an eternity of beauty and joy to embrace. This was just a bit of his goodness, letting me say goodbye to you. Remember how precious you are in his sight.”
I wrote this story and completed it earlier today. I dedicate this story to my sweet friend, Becky Poteet. The dream actually did happen to me two nights ago.
I do believe he sends angels when we least expect it. I also believe you are precious in his sight, and he answers our prayers, maybe when we least expect it, and not always as we ask. But he does.
Please relate a situation when you feel you might have been in his presence. Your comments encourage our readers, as well as your Storyteller. Enjoy Resurrection Sunday, and don’t forget to offer hospitality to others…