Angels remind us that "God is in charge"
Not everyone believes that angels exist, but Hope MacDonald has believed it all her life.
...When MacDonald, a nationally known Christian speaker and author, was 4 years old, she had the experience of a lifetime. Hope watched as her parents carried her bloodied and bruised sister Marilyn, 8, into the house after being hit by a car.
...Witnesses said Marilyn "rolled full speed toward an open sewer," when the car hit her, MacDonald said. "But instead of rolling in as everyone expected, she stopped. As she was asked what had happened, Marilyn said, But didn't you see that huge, beautiful angel standing in the sewer, holding up her hands to keep me from rolling in?' "
...Angels have been real to MacDonald since that day, and that experience is one of the main reasons she wrote When Angels Appear (Zondervan), she told Religion Today. The book recounts more than 50 real-life encounters people say they have had with angels in times of trouble and crisis, and describes what the Bibles says about angels.
...MacDonald, who speaks at churches, conferences, and retreat centers and on radio and television, lives in Seattle with her husband Harry, a retired Presbyterian minister who played a key role in founding Young Life (see link #1 below), the Colorado Springs-based youth ministry. The couple spends much of their time training young leaders.
...MacDonald's five books have sold 500,000 copies in 28 countries and been translated in 11 languages. She also has written about prayer, and her latest book, Letters From Heaven (NavPress), offers answers to commonly asked questions about the afterlife.
...Through the years, MacDonald, 71, has wondered how many other people have seen angels. Many never see an angel, but for those who do, the encounter is life-changing and personal -- so personal that people often are reluctant to share their accounts, she says. "You guard the stories. They are so precious, you don't want anybody to make fun of you."
...MacDonald has collected more than 300 angel stories in three years "from people I respect," she said. "Every place I go I ask someone who has seen one to come and share their story with me. Many say that they aren't sure if they have seen an angel. Most who have told me their stories said that they had never told the story to anyone before. I have never sensed self-righteousness in these people. Most of them thanked me for giving them a chance to share their story."
...Angels are mentioned more than 300 times in the Bible, and only three of the 66 books of the Bible don't mention them, she said. But angelic beings are difficult to describe because "they come in many forms," such as a person or a bright light. "They may be a presence and even give the sense of a hand on the shoulder."
..."When they appear they are usually very beautiful and bring a deep sense of peace. The first thing an angel says is fear not,' and with that announcement comes peace."
...Angels exist primarily to serve God and worship Him, and to act as God's messengers, MacDonald said. They are ordered to minister to people, which they do by giving specific directions, messages, or information about a need, she said. They also encourage, protect, and care for people at death. "They remind us that God is in charge of the world."
...There are two dangers in considering angels, MacDonald says. "The Bible says that we should never worship angels or any created thing. Also, we should never pray to angels." Secondly, many people who have had a difficult experience have asked why no angel protected them from it, she said. "As in the Bible, angels do not always come to rescue us. Jesus didn't heal everyone, but what we do find is that there are times that God does intervene. We must realize that God will not always send His angels, but we must love and trust God anyway."
...There is a purpose to knowing about angels, MacDonald said. "They remind us of the privilege God has given us. He has called us to be His human messengers. Angels bring peace, comfort, encouragement, and help. God has called us to minister in the same way to others. He has called us to be His children. We are heirs of God and we are called to go out into the world and do His work."
..."You can't make a person believe [in angels]," MacDonald said. "We all have a choice. We can believe or we can refuse to believe. If there is a God, couldn't there be angels?"
(Religion Today, September 29, 1999).
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