Jesus said in Matthew 18:10, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” The apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 6:3 that we [saints/believers] will judge angels. I’ve wondered, what does an angel do that deserves judgment? Unfortunately, now I’ve a pretty good idea.
If you are new to my blog, you may want to read the previous entries for some context for today’s post. My last post was written on November 25, 2013, two months ago, and posted around 6:00 p.m. after my daughter, Rebekah, read and approved the content. “That’s really good, mom.” She and her two-year-old son then left to watch a movie with her fiancé, her son’s daddy. Life had given my daughter some hard experiences in her 23 years, but she had found her place with the Lord and now looked forward to a promising future. About 11:30 that night, I was awakened with a call from an ER nurse telling me that my daughter had been in an accident and was “very sick. You need to come now.” I called her fiancé; we couldn’t understand what had happened. She had left her fiancé’s to return home at 9:30. Fortunately, my grandson had stayed to sleep at his dad’s place. We all gathered at the hospital—my grandson, my son-in-law to be, my other daughter, my sister and her family, and my daughter’s young pastor. We gathered to pray and say goodbye. The ER doctor pronounced that she crossed into glory at 2:52 a.m., although I’m not sure he understood that this was what she actually did. Twelve hours later, I sat at a funeral home with her fiancé and pastor making preparations that a mother should never have to make.
Thanksgiving, to state the obvious, was not what we planned. I did, however, roast that 20-pound turkey and took it to our family gathering. Rebekah had planned to make appetizers, complete with ground up Prozac if needed so we could have “a happy [expletive deleted] Thanksgiving!” We have a large American family, and drama can very well abound at any family gathering. That night, Rebekah joined our Table of Remembrance not as she had intended, but represented with a mimosa. And we had a "happy [expletive deleted] Thanksgiving." [See “Breaking the Rules” November 25, 2013.] The following week, we celebrated her life at such a moving memorial service my friends still talk about it.
So what will we judge angels for? Well, if there’s an angel of transportation, I know how I’ll judge that one. But I believe there were many other angels around that Monday night and in the following days, and still today, who are doing their best to minister to me and my family. Maybe it’s for their ministry that they will be judged.
That critical night a man who we only know as David came upon the accident. He later told us he had long ago told the Lord that he would always stop and help stranded motorists. That would be his way of putting action to his belief. He knelt close to Rebekah, talking to her in his booming voice, saying, “Honey, stay with us.” Married a long time with two grown girls of his own, he confessed that he’s never called anyone honey. Rebekah’s fiancé called her “Honey.” It may have been that voice that kept her with us until the family could get to the hospital to say goodbye. Another lady named Cyndy also stopped. She happened to be a trained trauma chaplain. She prayed. She also followed the ambulance to the hospital and stayed until I arrived and continued to stay and pray. I can’t thank her enough. Were angels behind these serendipitous meetings?
When Rebekah was 8 years old, we met “Preacher Ron.” He and I taught school together and became fast friends with him and his wife. He loved “Bekkers.” After Ron retired from teaching and began pastoring a small church in East Texas and I moved to Dallas, we were e-mail buddies and Facebook friends, where he watched Rebekah grow into a young woman. In July 2011, Ron “poked” me on Facebook. One year ago in January 2013, Ron went to be with the Lord. One day after Rebekah passed, Ron’s “poke” once again showed up in my Facebook notifications. In the midst of all the condolences, there was his grinning face, assuring me that my daughter was with friends. I have no explanation for this. Even if it can be explained “technologically,” the perfect timing cannot. Angels?
This Christmas my sister bought two Christmas tree toppers—angels—for her one tree. (Well, that’s my sister. What can I say?) She put one aside, intending to ask me after the memorial service if I could use it. She took it out of the box to see how different it was from hers and gasped. Her family gathered around to look at the angel. It looked like Rebekah with her natural blonde hair. Atop my Christmas tree, she gazed down at her son’s high chair all through the Christmas season.
Most children love decorating the Christmas tree, and Rebekah was no different. As an adult, she still conducted our “Christmas decorating party” the day after Thanksgiving with yuletide snacks and beverages and a Christmas movie playing. This year, for the first time that I can remember, I didn’t put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. Three days after her December 3 memorial service, I mustered enough energy to start the project. I wasn’t too excited, but I knew it had to be done; it’s what Rebekah would want and I was already a week late. My grandson’s navy jacket still lay downstairs where we put it after arriving home from the service. I went to pick it up, but in my hand I held Rebekah’s navy blue Christmas stocking that I had monogrammed myself years ago.
“Where did this come from?” I demanded.
Her bewildered fiancé said that someone put it in his hand at the memorial service. He couldn’t remember who. So she was with us as we decorated the tree. Angels?
Rebekah’s sister had bought one of those Hallmark recordable books to give my grandson for Christmas. It is practically a Christmas tradition for this daughter to do her shopping on December 23. However, she purchased the book and had Rebekah record the story in early fall. So on Christmas, he had his mother’s voice to read him the Christmas story. What prompted this daughter to plan something so far in advance?
I believe these strange “coincidences” are angelic hugs and pats. Angels, in the unseen realm, doing the Lord’s bidding in the midst of tragedy. They are a bit of consolation in the midst of an incredibly painful and unfair loss in this fallen world. They remind me that I have not been forsaken, and my Lord is still with me. “In the world, you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)
In loving memory of
Rebekah Elise Yarbrough
The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. (Isaiah 57:1-2)