I don’t believe angels only show up to help certain types of people, such as, say, only people doing difficult things for God in foreign countries. Hebrews 1:14 says that the only qualification for having angels minister to you is to be receiving salvation from Jesus. That covers human beings of all types!
However, I became much more aware of the angels that were helping me when I was sharing a small one-bedroom apartment with three other women of different nationalities in a foreign country. I was facing new kinds of stressors without my former human support-system, trying to build community with a new set of humans, and the angelic support system was there around me like scaffolding in that construction process.
One night I was upset and couldn’t sleep because my mentor had given me a language test to measure my progress in the local language, and I didn’t feel like I’d done nearly as well as I’d expected to. When I got quiet and considered what was happening in my heart, I saw myself as a little child lying on the lap of one of my angels and crying into her hug.
Usually, when the nighttime noises both inside and outside the house were keeping me awake, I would “see” the angels in the room playing angel-games to help me fall asleep. It was better than counting sheep! But tonight they were asking, “Aren’t we going to play our game to put our Baby Girl to sleep tonight?” and “my” angel said, “Baby Girl is having a meltdown on my lap right now.”
Of course, the other angels were now asking why, and I was eager to hear how my angel would answer them. Because I knew I was really upset, but I wasn’t sure myself why. Was I feeling that the test questions had been unfair? Or that they revealed I hadn’t made as much progress as I’d thought I had? Or something else? I was confused and hurting and I wondered what one of God’s wise and holy angels looking into my heart would say was at the root of it.
The angel answered, “Baby Girl is having a meltdown because her ‘spiritual mother’ didn’t affirm her.”
Ohhhhh. As soon as I heard the angel’s unexpected reply, I knew it was true. My emotions had nothing to do with the test; it was just that I had been longing for awhile now for my mentor to be proud of me and to tell me so, and I had thought that if I aced this test, she would praise me and meet that longing in my heart. And it hadn’t happened that way.
My crowd of devoted angel-attendants was also having a reaction to this revelation. Immediately, as one, they all cried, “Oh! Then we must forgive her ‘mother’ for hurting our baby!” Apparently angels found an opportunity to forgive somebody for something incredibly motivating, because before I had time to think any of my own thoughts (which would probably have been something like, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I so sensitive and needy? Surely it’s not appropriate to forgive her for not affirming me, surely it was wrong of me to want it…”) they were rushing to the scene of the crime at the speed of a heavenly ambulance with sirens.
As in my previous vision of the bowls of prayers-like-incense, the angels flew through the thin wall between the living room where I slept and the tiny bedroom where my mentor slept, not needing to bother with the door. But this time, I could “see” what was happening on the other side of that wall.
I saw my mentor sound asleep in her bed, and all those angels rushing in and alighting on her like a flock of birds alighting on a lake. I could see that they were all hugging her and kissing her. And then each and every angel in the group spoke to her in turn and said earnestly, “I forgive you for not affirming our Baby and hurting her heart and making her cry.”
But even giving this much grace with this much joy was not enough for beings from heaven. They wanted to give to her what she had not given. So they started simply piling her with affirmation; they were rubbing her back and her hair and saying, “You are such a good mother. You are such a good mother to our Baby. You do such a good job. You do so much for her every single day. We love partnering with you. We appreciate you so much. We are so grateful we get to work with you. We are so grateful to God for everything you do.”
Well, when I saw this and heard all the good things they were saying about her (and was reminded how true they all were), I said, “I want to do that too! I want to fly through the wall and forgive her!” My angel laughed, and while my body stayed in bed, in the spirit I entered the vision and the angels scooped me up and carried me through the wall too! That was fun. The angels held me over the sleeping form on the bed like I was a baby playing “airplane” so I could give her a kiss and say “I forgive you too!”
I didn’t even realize then how much hard heart-work that vision of fun-loving angels had just done for me. They had helped me identify what was really the root of the pain in my heart. They had given me permission to acknowledge that another person had hurt me, even a person I admired, and not just blame myself for it or suppress it. They had modeled the forgiveness of heaven, racing to forgive at once and with joy, and the love-like-Jesus, treating people the way we want to be treated instead of the way they have just treated us. They had made forgiveness fun.
And when my angel had tucked me into bed again, I had turned my attention from wanting my mentor’s affirmation to wanting the affirmation of heaven. I said, “I want the angels to affirm me like that too!”
Like a flock of birds rising in unison, the angels rushed back through the wall and landed on me like they had on her. They started telling me how much they loved me and how much progress I was making and how brave I was being and how proud they were of me and everything I had been aching to hear.
Later, my mentor and I were able to talk about how I felt about the test, and I started to feel better. And even though she still didn’t say all the affirming things I had heard from the angels, the next morning I saw the angels bringing THREE bowls of her prayers for me through the wall. (The contents of one bowl looked like red tea with tea leaves in it, one like pink bubbles or foam, and one like a peach-colored ointment!) The angels rubbed all of these wonderful substances into my skin and I realized I was feeling better both emotionally and physically and also sleeping better, so I guessed that my mentor had been praying for me a lot!
In a new country, adjusting like a baby to a whole new “world” for Jesus, I clung to the fact that He had come as a baby to enter a whole new world for me. I was here because I loved Him in response. And He had chosen where I would land and the people who would be there to welcome me just the way God chose Mary’s lap as Jesus’ first landing place in His new world. To remember this, I made my computer’s desktop background a painting that spoke to me about it:
Jesus at rest, His mother Mary at rest, and the angels there to soothe them to sleep in a less-than-soothing world. In Jesus’ case, I knew the angels were in awe because they had known Him all their lives as the One who never grows tired (Isaiah 40:28) and now they were seeing Him asleep. In my case, they were cherishing me because, as fragile, fallible, and sin-capable as I still was, my journey reminded them of Him.
Of course, neither I nor my first “mother” mentor in the new culture were always that peacefully at rest. I remember another time we had a misunderstanding and I asked the Lord whose side the angels were on, hers or mine. That was the first time I ever saw an angel look confused! The Lord just showed me all the angels looking really puzzled, and then gently said, “You have really confused your angels. They have no idea how to answer your question, because they can’t see any ‘sides’ to take. The only way they know how to answer you is to remind you of the angels in the painting you love so much: are they on baby Jesus’ ‘side’ or on Mary’s ‘side’? That is the way your mentor still loves you. There is no way for the angels to serve and love her without serving and loving you, nor to do what is best for you without doing what is best for her. There are no ‘sides.'”
Now looking back, I can’t even remember what that misunderstanding had been about! But I remember that seeing the funny image of baffled angels and receiving His perspective that my mentor was still “on my side” were what helped me resolve it.
The results or “good fruit” of what the holy angels do for us matches the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit who made them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I am so grateful for God’s angel servants helping out on the long journey of learning to love and forgive like Jesus.