I say it's one of the most difficult jobs on earth because in Heaven, it's much different. Fellow angels do not have to be convinced, because we don't have doubt, fear, mistrust and lying. We don't understand these things, so when we sit around and talk, it's pretty much, to coin a human phrase... "what you see (and hear) is what you get." Difficult to play poker though. Hard to bluff, if you know what I mean. But I digress.
You see, the biggest obstacle is that humans are not used to seeing us. They don't understand the supernatural, so when one of us appears before a human, they become afraid. If I can't convince that human to be unafraid, not only will they not hear what I have to say, but they won't believe. And that is perhaps the saddest thing of all.
One year, I had an especially hard time trying to convince these humans. It was one thing after another, and I thought, "Boy, these human beings are very hard-headed creatures. It's sad that they have such fear and mistrust. I wonder why Father made them that way." But I was reminded that it wasn't Father who made them that way. It was sin. But that's another story. Let me tell you about this incredible year, well, really only a few months. Well, honestly it was sort of like what you might call a millisecond, since we have no "time" in Heaven.
It all started with this priest, Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, both upright with the Lord, but they had no children, and they were pretty far along in years. One day, when Zechariah was doing his priestly duties, standing at the altar of incense, Father sent me to appear to him. Right in the middle of his burning incense! Of course, Zechariah was afraid, but I was used to this. I was trained to attempt to dispel fear. I told him not to be afraid, then I assured him that his prayer had been heard. Now, he thought I meant the prayers he was offering up for the people, so I went on to tell him that his wife Elizabeth would have a son, and his name was to be John, and he would be a forerunner to the Messiah.
I suppose my sales pitch needed to be stronger with Zechariah, because his response was, "How can I be sure of this? We're old!" A holy man, but skeptical! Unfortunately for him, because he didn't believe, he was struck speechless until the time of John's birth, when his wife proclaimed that the baby's name was to be John. Unfortunate for Zechariah, but such is the often the way when these humans do not believe.
Ok, I scared her a bit and I think I confused her as well, but I quickly recovered with my "Do not be afraid" line. I explained to her that she would come to be with child and to name him Jesus. That He would be great and be called the Son of the Most High. She became more confused. I guess I wasn't explaining this in a way a human could understand, but truthfully, I didn't quite understand the specifics myself. She wondered how this could happen when she'd never been with a man, and I explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her. I assured her that nothing was impossible with God.
I think it was that last line that convinced her. I've been told that your closing line is what gets the sale. This young woman---what a gal! I guess my sales pitch worked, because she pondered this for a few moments, then she said, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." No more questions! Just simple and pure belief!
Her betrothed, Joseph, was a little harder to convince. That's a pretty crazy story to be told by the woman you're about to take as your wife! So, Father tried a different approach. He had me come to Joseph in a dream. Of course, even in his dream, I told him not to be afraid. I didn't want him to wake up and wonder who the dream was from! He had to know it was from Father. Fear comes from our enemy, Satan, not from Jehovah. In his dream, I told him that he should take Mary as his wife, that what was conceived was from the Holy Spirit. She would give birth to a son, and would call his name Jesus, because he would save his people from their sins.
I never thought I could convince anyone in a dream, but I'll tell you what---Joseph awoke from that dream and didn't waste any time taking Mary as his wife, but respected her until she gave birth...if you catch my drift.
I really like this Joseph, and the way he responded to my appearances in his dreams, so much so, that I would choose this method two more times--once to tell him to go to Egypt to escape King Herod's wrath of killing all male children under the age of two--in order to attempt to eliminate Jesus--and the third time to tell him that it was safe to return to Israel. But again, I digress from this particular time.
Well, you probably know what happened with Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem to register for the census (talk about bad timing!) and because of the hoards of people coming to Bethlehem for the same reason, this young couple could not find lodging. And Mary, due any day, ended up giving birth to the King of all kings in a manger, his throne being a water trough.
My next assignment was to let the shepherds in the fields know that a Savior had been born. This was great news, but back then, there was no internet, no cell phones, no CNN. There was no way to get this news to them quickly other than an angel! So, once again, I appeared, and because it was very dark out, the glory of God shone all around. Let me tell you, these guys were terrified! I suppose hanging out with sheep all day and all night makes you pretty lonely. So when you see this celestial being, complete with intense, blinding light, you may think you're hallucinating. We're used to it; we sometimes forget that humans are not.
Of course, I gave them my opening pitch...do not be afraid. What a joy it was to simply proclaim to them, "I bring you good news of great joy! Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Next thing we all knew, my friends appeared all around us--a great company of heavenly host and we couldn't help but praise Adonai. We began singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
I guess you know the rest of that story, but let me end with this:
We still appear to humans today. Maybe not in the same way. But we are all around. You may not see us like Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds did, but we still roam the earth, protecting you, delivering you, guiding you through circumstances, ministering to you when you hurt, and watching over you. We especially look for those "on whom his favor rests" because those are the ones who have the most peace. Sometimes, we even take the form of a human...you never know who might be an angel in disguise!
I know I took a lot of time up today... it was important that you get my perspective on things. I wanted you to know that Father loves you so much that he created you for His pleasure and because He loves you so much, He sent His only Son to this planet you call earth...this tiny speck in the universe...to be born and to die just for you. Glory to God in the highest! Do not be afraid!
Blessings Along the Path,
References: Luke 1&2; Matthew 1&2
Note: Biblical text does not mention Gabriel as the messenger except for Mary; creative license was taken for this blog.
Song of the Day:
Angels We Have Heard on High (Pentatonix) (amazing a cappella group!)
Angels Watching Over Me (Amy Grant)