I have seen angels.
I kid you not…and I’ll get to that in a moment.
Angels, from Genesis to Revelation, they’re sprinkled throughout scriptures.
Beautiful and frightening.
Wispy and fierce.
Holy and evil.
Oh. Evil? The angels that got kicked out of heaven didn’t suddenly grow horns or antlers, and turn red with pitchfork-tails. Those heaven-banished beings are still angels—just not the type you want to mess with. And for that matter, I’d guess you really don’t want to mess with any angel—good or bad. I mean, they really are unusual things; especially when reading the description of Seraphim, in Greek meaning “burning one”. If I ever came face-to-face with a six winged burning thing (Isaiah 6), I’d probably pass out.
I have always been fascinated by angels. They existed before we came to be. And I’ve often wondered what they did before we came around. For that matter I wonder what God did before He spun this little blue planet into being, with all us kids and our zillion little issues. Just think, God’s life without “prayer requests” must have been quiet. I suppose that’s one reason God created angels before us, He needed the company.
But one thing I know certain about angels, and is a promise I hold on to is this: God commands angels to guard us. (Psalm 91:11) I hold on to that promise from God so strongly. It is the basis for the name of this blog. Soiled Wings. It isn’t about my wings, although if I had some they’d be a tattered mess—rather it’s about all those holy angels who are obeying God the day He said, “See this one. She’ll be named Sherry. All of you watch over her, she’s got a messy journey and will need extra protection and care. Suit up!”
And from that day, I’ve been watched over. Some days I forget—and then there are the days when I know I’ve been in the presence of holy obedient angels; experiencing a first-hand account of God’s promise to me.
It was a Friday morning. I was on my way to work needing to buy donuts for the office. I grumbled over the task because one of the staff recently complained that I only got glazed donuts—I suppose they wanted rainbow-sprinkle-cake-donuts. I also suppose they had no idea that I was paying for these donuts with my money—not the company’s. I pulled into the deserted parking lot at 6:15am, parked in-front of the shop with the bright yellow sign that simply said “DONUTS”. The sun was just waking up and dimly lit the sky. Stepping out of the car I saw one person on the far side of the parking lot walking towards me. I could tell their face was turned towards the ground; they wore a dark hooded sweatshirt. My Spidey Sense went into high alert. I almost got back into my car thinking, “screw the donuts, they don’t even deserve the cheap glazed.” But then I thought that was wrong since it was only one bad apple of the bunch making me feel un-giving. And that ominous hooded person was at least a football field away.
The door-sensor chimed my arrival as a barely four-foot-tall Asian woman came out to greet me. I said, “two-dozen glazed”, and she shouted something to someone in the back of the store. Out came her husband who towered over her with nearly six more inches of height. He carried a tray of fresh glazed donuts. I tried to encompass their happiness at their fried creation, but I was terribly distracted as the hooded man was getting closer to the shop. My stomach was turning into knots.
I wanted to hurry the couple along, but it was too late. The hooded man entered. His hands in the front pocket of his sweatshirt. I knew what I saw and my heart raced. I saw the outline of a gun. I thought, “God not now, it’s too soon, I’m not ready, this can’t be how it ends!” And that’s all I could think.
I looked at the couple, they were oblivious—and taking too much time folding a pink box and gingerly placing donuts inside. I watched as the hooded man pulled a free hand out of his sweatshirt. I knew what was going to happen next. He’d grab his sweatshirt with his free hand while pulling out the hidden gun. I panicked, I didn’t want to die. This person looked dead inside and had nothing to lose. That’s when I blurted out, “Can I buy you a donut and coffee?”
Can. I. Buy. You. A. Donut. And. A. Coffee.
– that’s the best I’ve got?
The hooded guy made eye contact with me and was—well—stunned. I looked intently at him, then to the placed where he concealed a gun, then back to his eyes. His covered hand shifted slightly. And I said, “Really, do you want something?” He didn’t reply. He just stared. My heart was in my throat and pounding in my ears.
At that moment seven large burly Hispanic men entered. They looked like gangsters. And while they appeared scary in their own right, I was thankful for them—because now I’d have a fighting chance when the gun came out.
What happened next makes no sense. The hooded guy sat down on one side of the store—fidgeting in his chair, hand still in pocket—while the Hispanic men stood on the other side. No one said anything. This all occurred while the Asian couple finally got to ringing up my order. My attention was shortly diverted to them as I offered my credit card with a badly shaking hand. The door chimed again and I watched the hooded-man leave the store. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I smiled at the Asian couple and received my pink box. They had no idea the disaster they just averted. The door chimed again, and the Hispanic men left. They didn’t get coffee or donuts.
No more than a few seconds passed as I signed the credit card slip, donuts in hand, exiting the shop. That’s when I noticed there were no Hispanic men. No band of trucks leaving the parking lot, no men walking down the sidewalk. Nothing. Just a quiet deserted lot with one single hooded person walking away.
If my hands were shaking before, it was nothing compared to how they were as I tried to put the key into my car’s ignition. I was suddenly aware that God had just protected me from death. If “evil” was bound to end my life that day, God said, “Not yet. Greater things are yet to come. Angels suit up!” And they did, as gangsters. I shook inside and out. I could begin to imagine how Isaiah felt when he encountered the Seraphim. He was visibly and mentally shaken. So was I.
The rest of that day, nothing could get me down. Not a snide comment from an employee about glazed donuts, or anything else. Because I was in the presence of holy that day. A promise was kept; and I was filled with wonder at why…and what greater thing was yet to come. And in my heart I concluded and whispered, “Here am I. Send me.”