When I was a kid, we were at a fast food restaurant in the parking lot.
I just remember looking across the parking lot and seeing a man dressed in light-colored clothing, with long reddish-brown hair and a reddish-brown beard.
I don’t remember who was with me in the car or if I said anything to them. But I remember the man walking close to the car and as I whispered “Jesus” under my breath, the man looked at me and smiled.
The window wasn’t down. There was no way he could have heard me. But I remember being terrified – even though he smiled.
For a good deal of time after that, I would dream of Jesus being around the house or outside, watching me. I know my paternal grandmother often scolded my cousins and told us that Jesus was watching us.
Maybe it was for that reason I was scared.
As I grew older, I didn’t have any of those types of “I’m scared of Jesus” dreams. One night when I was a young father, I got up and went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and glanced into my infant son’s crib. I looked up toward the stairs that went down to the first floor of our little house and for a split second, I could have sworn I saw a man standing there with a cloak, long hair and a beard.
Just a glimpse, but enough that I thought I saw something.
I crawled back into bed and proceeded to have a dream of the same man watching me from the top steps of the staircase. That had never happened before.
Again, I felt the old terrified feeling.
Knowing who Jesus is and what he’s all about has been something I’ve been pursuing all my life. As humans, we can’t really fathom the depth of his love for us. I have heard that God is love. Love, love, love.
So I can only guess my terrified feelings are based on the power of God. And really, we are supposed to have a fear of God. The Bible says that fearing God gives us wisdom, keeps us from sin, motivates us to share with others. It also says good things flow into a life that fears the Lord.
Surely I didn’t know all of that when I was little. But maybe the fear was there from the get-go because it’s supposed to be.
I wrote once about an encounter with what I thought was an angel. It was when I was in the hospital with my daughter, who as a cancer-survivor was having follow-up brain surgery to remove a small, benign cyst. The person I encountered offered some encouragement and was such a calming presence.
And then she disappeared.
There have been plenty of stories about people encountering angels. Not just stories, but accounts from many witnesses. Documented.
When the Angel Gabriel went to Nazareth and entered Mary’s home, I wonder if she knew he was an angel? Surely she did. Did she share the news with anyone? Did anyone believe her?
Throughout the Bible, the Angel Gabriel only appeared to very important people. Daniel, Zechariah. Mary was favored.
Joseph had a dream in which an angel appeared. A dream was more plausible, I guess. However, the dream must have been pretty powerful because he decided to carry through with his previous plan of marrying Mary.
Some friends of mine were once very worried about their child, who was about to have a procedure. This child was an infant and the situation was worrisome.
Apparently, a person whom my friends thought was a waitress came up to them at a restaurant and told them their child was going to be just fine. They had never seen this lady, nor could she have known that they had a child. This person did not take their order, clear anything off the table, or even fill water glasses. Yet both friends recall they had no doubt that this was a restaurant employee.
Later, a different waitress came to the table. My friends inquired about the previous waitress and described her in detail. The waitress standing there gave a quizzical look and told them no other waitress was there that night, only two male waiters. There were two female cooks in the back, but both of them wore white and were not dressed as the person my friends had described.
Perhaps the most hair-raising story I’ve heard is far scarier than any of the spooky stories I told in October. Perhaps because it is, once again, a reminder of the power of God.
Family members of another friend were broken down along the road late one night, and had a small child with them.
See a common theme yet?
Anyway, the little baby was in the car sleeping as the couple stood outside, wondering what to do. This was before the days of cell phones and the stretch of road they were on was somewhat quiet and almost deserted.
Not knowing what was wrong with the stalled car, they stood there and tried to decide what to do. Both people talked about how they were praying silently for help. Seemingly out of nowhere, a car came off a nearby side road. Before they knew what to make of the quick appearance of the car, a kind man hopped out and asked if they needed help. They were both instantly relaxed and somehow knew the man was there to help. He opened their hood and fiddled with things before asking the driver to try the ignition.
The car didn’t immediately start, but after a few more tries, the engine turned over and came to life.
The good Samaritan wished them well and off he went. It seemed to the couple that the stranger’s car then backed up, turned back down the same side road and disappeared. The wife even recalls turning around to watch the retreating tail lights of the car but only saw them for a moment.
About three miles up the road, there was a crossroads of sorts with a corner service station. The station had been closed for hours but there was a pay phone near the gas pumps. The couple decided to stop and call ahead to family members who were expecting them.
The husband stood there, waiting for the person he was calling to pick up the phone. His surroundings were mostly dark, besides a utility pole light near the station and a far off couple of lights, perhaps at farms off in the distance.
As he scanned the country landscape, he thought he saw an animal several yards away in a sort of ravine; he thought it could have been a wolf or coyote. Just when the caller picked up on the other end of the phone line, and just for an instant, the husband said he thought he saw a human figure jump up and spring into the air.
Again, it was only a glimpse, but it looked like a human form flying off as if it were a bird of sorts. He felt that same, relaxed and peaceful feeling he’d felt when the stranger helped them with their car a few minutes before.
The strange occurrences of the evening were too coincidental and the couple still feels they were watched over by an angel that night.
It’s my belief that angels exist and God is constantly using them, not only with the spiritual warfare that constantly rages, but also for reassurance and help when needed. These are only a few of the many angel encounters I’ve heard of.
And even though most people have reported a healthy and respectful fear, much like I felt when I thought I saw Jesus or had my own angel encounter, there is always the mention of incredible warmth, peace and comfort.
And those feelings, my friends, can only come from the overpowering love of God.