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In the Company of Angels

Thinking of Angels
Devotions by Renée Miller

It seems that angels do not serve one purpose alone. We may picture them as a heavenly host, blowing trumpets in praise of God, but their roles throughout Scripture are as varied as the circumstances in which they appear. The following devotions describe angels who surprise us, give us direction, help us rejoice and minister to our needs, even when we’re unaware that they are around.

And [Gabriel] came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." —Luke 1:28

There she was. A young peasant girl, shut off from the fame and fortune of the world, doing the regular monotonous chores that any adolescent would do in her culture. Hers was an ordinary, commonplace, run-of-the-mill life. Though she looked forward to her marriage, her life would be lived just like every other woman in her community after the marital knot had been tied. Then, when she least expected it, the surprising angel broke in and told her that her life was more important than she would ever have thought possible. God was with her and in God’s eyes she was highly favored.

Sometimes it feels that our life is small, obscure, seemingly insignificant. We wonder if the activities of our days, that seem so mundane can really make a difference. Does our life count for anything? Does cleaning the house, caring for children, attending yet another meaningless meeting, shopping for groceries, watching another sit-com on television prove that our life has meaning? Will we come to old age and feel as though our life has had no purpose at all?

Just when we are busy at the regular round of tasks in our day, the surprising angel steps in to remind us that God is with us and our life does matter. The surprising angel may give us a new task, or may tell us that the tasks we have already been given are the very ones through which God will change the world. But, are you poised to believe the surprising angel when you are told how important you are?

O God, let the ordinariness of my life be made extraordinary through your presence.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” —Luke 2:8-10

When God has a message for us, the glory angels are frequently the ones to deliver it because it is always in the midst of glory that we finally stop our frantic movement, halt mid-step, mid-thought and turn aside to see the holy presence that is around us always, but which we so often block from our sight. Our constant activity, our racing mind, our distracted spirit can keep us deadened to the miraculous, and we need something that will cause us to stop in order to see the wonder and hear a new word from heaven.

Because we are not used to a continuous experience of the Holy One, we are easily frightened when the glory angels come and surround us with the shining presence of God. Our fear is but a confirmation that we have allowed our souls to be clouded from that which feels so distant from us. But it takes only the flash of an instant to be engulfed in the brilliance that can completely transform our lives. Are you poised to stop when the glory angel passes by?

O God, overshadow me with the cloud of your presence until I am completely at peace in the grandeur that I so often miss.

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Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
—Matthew 2:13

We have limited sight. We cannot know all the twists and turns that are about to be unfolded before us. We make decisions based on what we know, what we can see, what we can reasonably predict. This is why we are so stunned, startled, and shocked when tragedy strikes, or why we are so amazed, astounded, and awed when unexpected miracles are spread out before us. In both cases, we try to comprehend what has happened and take new actions based on what we understand. Because our sight is limited, we can sometimes find ourselves in situations that could have been avoided had we had better information. The directing angels step in to give us that information.

Joseph could not have known the mind of Herod or that his child was in danger. And, even, had he known, he might not have been able to divert the disaster. The directing angel came to his aid and pointed out a path for him to take to insure the child’s safety. While directing angels do not prevent all tragedy, suffering, and disaster, they stand ready to move into our world and into our dreams to indicate a new way for us to tread. Are you poised not only to hear the words of the directing angel, but to act on them?

O God, I can see only a short way before me. Crack my self-sufficiency so that my tender beating heart can hear the sound of your leading.

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. —Matthew 4:11

We know what temptation is like. It feels like our very souls are being squeezed by alluring desire, and the more we resist, the stronger the clamp becomes on our soul. When we finally feel an abatement of the lure, we feel emotionally, spiritually, and physically spent. We feel like a limp noodle dropped carelessly onto the floor. Such times of temptation and struggle are followed by moments and days that feel as peaceful as scanning a panorama from atop a mountain at the first crack of dawn. Then, we have trouble even remembering the pain of the struggle just past. We sink down into the well of tranquility and languidly allow our souls to be mended and healed.

Where did the great possibility for peace come from? How did the struggle come to an end? How did hope return? What happened to our frayed emotions, our scratched spirits, our rubbed raw souls? It is the work of the ministering angels. They are ever ready to step into the breach between those tenuous times in life when we are overwhelmed by the lure and pull of misplaced desire and the times of silent and sacred space that clasps and cradles us in stillness. We never face temptation and struggle alone. We are not forever constrained to fight until we have no breath and are left listless and lifeless. The ministering angels stand silently by to flood us with peace. Are you poised for the ministering angels’ caring contact?

O God, keep me from the desires that cloud my mind, my heart, my soul and lead me far away from the center of myself and from the heart of heaven.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2

They could be anyone—anywhere—at any time. Cloaked in human skin, hesitant to unveil themselves, they travel humbly and anonymously through creature time. The disguised angels are here to remind us of God’s presence in our lives and in the universe, to care for the undisclosed needs of our soul, to watch over the unfortunate situations we get ourselves into, to guide us into new ways of being, to bring a holy balance to the distortions of our lives.

Because they can be so easily missed, we need to be on the lookout—always prepared to encounter them even in the most ordinary of circumstances. Knowing they might “show up” at the most unexpected times reminds us to keep our hearts open. We really cannot turn anyone away from the hospitality of our hearts, because that very one may be one of the disguised angels. When we are tempted to narrow our friendships, exclude those who are different from us, busy ourselves with no one but those who form our small network, then we risk missing the Divine Presence in our midst.

We risk being deaf to the word of God to us—the word that has the potential to completely alter our lives and unlock the gates that keep us enclosed in our safe, but surprisingly fragile existence. Perhaps the most important message the disguised angels bring is that we are meant to live open-armed, openhearted, open-spirited—because the Divine can be encountered at any instant. Are you poised to welcome the disguised angels who will break you out from the bars of sheltered safety and lead you into the uncharted mystery of God?

O God, do not allow my eyes and heart to close like a curtain across my little life. Keep me alert to the presence of your mystery.


Copyright ©2006 Renée Miller
Daily Vitamins for the Soul by Renee Miller
The devotions above were excerpted from DAILY VITAMINS FOR THE SOUL, Volume Four. To purchase a copy, visit lulu.com. This link is provided as a service to explorefaith visitors and registered users.




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