In the Bible, the book of Hebrews 1:14 tells us that angels are ministering spirits “for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” In Chapter 13, verse 2, we read: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (KJV). The subject of angels has produced many stories, books, songs, motion pictures and TV shows such as the recent installment “Touched by an Angel.”
Dr. Billy Graham, in his book “Angels, God’s Secret Agents,” tells of one such story reported in the Reader’s Digest concerning a lady, seriously ill with pneumonia. The night is late, cold and snowy, and a physician is summoned to answer his door. Standing outside is a little girl poorly dressed and deeply upset who says, “My mommy is very sick. Would you please come with me?” After arriving, at the precise moment to coordinate medical care, he complimented the patient on her daughter’s quick timing. The woman replied that her little girl had died a month before and that her shoes and coat were in the clothes closet. The doctor discovered those items in there, warm and dry.
All through scripture, we read about them being sent to administer various duties. During the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, his birth, wilderness temptation, Gethsemane experience, resurrection and ascension were accompanied by angelic appearances. In many situations, the angel is not recognized until after their mission has been discharged. One such incident is recorded in Acts Chapter 12, where Herod has the Apostle Peter imprisoned and heavily guarded.
At that time, a prayer meeting “without ceasing” was occurring at the home of John Mark’s mother, Mary. “And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee and follow me” (verse 7 and 8). Peter wasn’t sure about what was happening, and he thought he saw a vision. Upon safely being led past the first and second ward and through the iron gate which opened by itself, he realizes “of a surety the Lord hath sent his angel to deliver me” (verse 11). Peter proceeds to Mary’s house where they “too” are slow to perceive the miracle.
What I explain now is my personal testimony that I believe follows a pattern of such manifestations in scripture. In the early summer of 2006, we learned my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. After the operation at Hershey Medical Center, Mom underwent rehab and was soon placed at a nursing facility in Lewistown, Pa. Here, she remained and underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
I returned from Vermont after ministering at our annual IAOGI regional conference to visit her before returning home. Friday morning, my sister frantically called me to say that our mom was hemorrhaging profusely and for me to return to the nursing home. My sister, Lois Marie, a licensed practical nurse, and her husband, Steve, and daughters, Mandy, Mindy and Misty, joined me there. After taking a supper break, we sadly spent the next several hours in and out of her room, anticipating her death. Mother kept a powerful witness and testimony of her faith and relationship in Jesus Christ.
About 10 p.m., the Hospice chaplain was leading us in some old fashioned hymns. Mom’s vitals were lowering. While singing, I glanced at the foot of the bed and there stood a plainly dressed little lady. The chaplain, although he stood right next to the woman, never acknowledged her presence. There was no exchange, not even a hand shake between them.
Our family had time to talk with her for the next several hours. When asked her name, she replied “Wilma” and that “God sent me.” This person did not carry a lady’s purse, use a bathroom during her nine-hour stay and reportedly had not slept for 72 hours. She didn’t look tired. The lady remarked that Mom would be the third person she would witness die during that span.
Imagine the pending sorrow we’re feeling with Mom’s condition, but there was a calming effect while in the presence of this mysterious visitor. My sister, the nurse, was on one side of the bed watching Mom’s vital signs as she would any other patient, and myself, her son, a “minister of the gospel” on the other. When we were told we could not have ice water because the kitchen doors were locked, Wilma’s request for our water was granted.
Prompted by the Holy Spirit, I recalled details of a book my late father had shown we called “I Saw The Death Angel.” She remarked, “It is like that sometimes.” As Mom’s breaths became 45 seconds and more apart, Wilma nodded in affirmation. Strangely, this woman quickly moves to the foot of Mom’s bed with a bright smile and gleaming eyes and throws back the sheet to view the visible modeling of Mom’s body. What was this rudeness? As she glanced back at me, the corners of that smile turned downward. At. 6 a.m. Saturday morning, Nov. 4, 2006, Frances Claire Pyle took her eternal flight to be with Jesus. After Mom drew her last breath, we cried.
My nieces, Mandy and Misty, asked this peculiar lady when they would see her again? Wilma remarked to Mandy that the Lord had a great ministry in store for her. She hugged us all and assured me that she “would pray that God strengthens me.” Wilma abruptly left the access coded building. The following week, once only, Misty saw and briefly spoke with her here again.
Later that Saturday, as we assembled at my sister’s home to make funeral arrangements, we began to gather our collective thoughts about the encounter with Wilma. Several of us commented that it was odd that she didn’t give much detail about her life and other actions including the turning back of the sheet on the bed to view Mom. My brother-in-law, Steve, had been strangely overcome with “slumber” while conversing with this lady. Prior to that bout of “extreme fatigue,” he had asked her, repeatedly, where he’d seen her before and she never replied.
We still were a little doubtful of this “actual angel unaware” until she was seen a third and final time, appearing to Lois Marie in Wal-Mart. Standing at the end of the check-out line, she offered encouragement, embraced my sister and simply vanished again. After going online on two different occasions, each time, we discovered the name “Wilma” is defined as “Protector.”
The first word search about the name Wilma created a witness of God’s Holy Ghost within my soul. Now, there was no doubt. Truly God is our “Protector,” and He does give his angels “charge over us.”
The Bible says in Psalms 34:7 “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
John’s gospel in Chapter 1, verses 50 and 51, assures us with these words that Jesus spoke to Nathanael: “Because I said unto thee I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things that these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
In Genesis 28, we read that Jacob had a dream of angels ascending and descending. After sleeping at Beth-el, he said in verse 16, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not ... .” In Luke’s gospel, Chapter 24, the men on the road to Emmaus were entertaining the resurrected Christ and they didn’t recognize him. Jesus broke bread and “their eyes were opened and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (verse 31). The men later declared “did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (verse 32).
Ephesians 2:6 explains, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Though we are saved, sanctified and Holy Ghost filled believers, we still find these terrestrial, temporal bodies often unaware; of the spiritual, celestial realm. As pertaining to the Apostle Paul’s experience mentioned in 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, when being caught up to the third heaven, he says, “Whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell.”
Hebrews 12:22 says, “But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, The Heavenly Jerusalem and To An Innumerable Company Of Angels.” Although we are excited about the presence of these messengers, we should be careful to worship God. “And I John saw these things and heard them. And when I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them, which keep the sayings of this book: Worship God” (Revelations 22:8-9). “God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
(Editor’s Note: Opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author’s church affiliation.)