Few of us know the power and influence angels have in our lives on a regular basis. An angel is any messenger sent by God to do His work. Sometimes that message comes for our benefit, sometimes the message is a request to act on behalf of another, and sometimes we are the messenger. Here are a few things we can learn about angels to awaken our hearts and minds to the many influences they play in our seemingly normal, everyday lives.
1. Sometimes our departed relatives are sent to administer to us.
President Joseph F. Smith said:
“In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 436).
My daughter experienced such a visit when she lost a baby shortly after he was born. She shared with me this experience that brought her comfort and peace during her time of grief:
“As a mother, I don’t think it is possible to not worry about my children.
I had a baby die shortly after birth. I constantly pray that my son will be protected, cared for and loved because I feel so helpless not being able to physically care for him. I don’t have a day go by that I don’t think about him and wonder if all is well.
After spending some time at the cemetery one afternoon, I stood up to leave. I was walking toward my car when I suddenly realized I was not alone at that little headstone by my son’s grave. I turned back toward the grave, and even though I didn’t see anyone standing there, I knew my grandma, who had passed away before I was born, was there.
Without any hesitation, I said, ‘Take care of my son.’ I heard her voice say, ‘I will, I know what it feels like to not have your son.’ The words that came to my mind were short and simple but the love behind her words was as deep as the love I felt for my son. I realized after she had said this to me that she had not been able to hold her son for years.
There was a barrier between her and her son. My father was an only child and it had been 31 years since my grandma had been on this earth to care for her child. I walked away that day knowing that my grandma loved my son and would care for him and watch over him while I was helpless to do so.
I walked away seeing my dad in a new light; he was a son who had a mother that loved him unconditionally. The man that I depended on for strength, protection, and guidance my whole life was also a child who would one day be in his mother’s arms again.”
As President Joseph F. Smith said, our family members and loved ones can bring, “from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction.”
2. Sometimes angels may be telling us to act.
You need to know that some of those family members who have departed from us may need us to administer to them. There isn’t a work I know of that stretches the veil as thin as does family history work. If you start into that work, you will feel the nudging of spirits waiting for their work to be done.
One day, I had spent the four hours doing my shift at the family history center in our stake and stayed past time trying to clear some final names for ordinance work in the temple. I was pleased with my efforts, and as I pushed the save to disk button, the computer froze. I was livid! I was afraid that all those hours of work were wasted. I went home grumbling under my breath about how dumb computers are and wishing deep inside I could throw the computer at the wall and smash it.
Several weeks later, I had time to return to the stake family history center. I left my husband watching the children and explained it could take me several hours to recreate what was previously lost.
I got right to work and everything seemed to be going great. It was quiet and no one was in the building.
I got to a name, Margaret Ann Richey. I distinctly remembered passing over that name and thinking she didn’t need any other ordinances. Then I heard a voice say, “Don’t you forget me, too!”
Who was this Margaret Ann Richey? I quickly switched on some of the other computers and started looking up information on her. Margaret had been married civilly to her husband, Jens “J” Hansen in 1886, but she died a year later.
Two years later, in 1888, her husband, married her sister, Johanna Jeannette Richey. On the day Jens and Johanna were married and sealed in the temple, someone did Margaret’s endowment work but Margaret had never been sealed to her husband, Jens.
That evening, I knew why I needed to spend several more hours redoing the work. Weeks before I had skimmed over her name without a second thought. She had been waiting for 108 years for someone to catch the fact that she needed to be sealed to Jens. On September 13, 1994, my husband and I knelt across the altar at the Provo Temple and did the work Margaret had personally requested. I sensed that her long wait was finally over, and I have no doubt that she was there that evening.
3. Sometimes angels are the people you see around you every day.
They may be your visiting teacher, home teacher, inspired Church leaders, family member, your friends, or even complete strangers, but all of these people can act as messengers of the Lord by simply giving a call, a hug, or even just visiting.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), 82).
The missionary force of the Church are angels sent by the Lord and set apart to wander the earth looking for those that will hear the message. While serving a mission in Spain, my daughter, Crystal,served as an angel to a complete stranger.
“We were stood up by our appointments tonight and decided to go and check on old contacts that we had.
As we walked through a park, I made eye contact with a woman who was sitting on a bench who looked like she was in her 50s or 60s. She looked like a Spaniard. I had the impression that we needed to talk to her. My first reaction was, ‘No, I am not in the mood to be rejected right now.’
The older Spanish generations are always happy to have someone to talk to, but you never get anywhere with them. They always say, ‘I was born Catholic and I will die Catholic,’ and they never listen to anything you say concerning religion.
As we passed her, I again had an impression that we needed to talk to her. Once again I said, ‘No, I really don’t want to be turned down right now.’ We passed her and for some reason I decided that I needed to follow that impression whether anything came of it or not.
We went back and introduced ourselves as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked if she had a few minutes to listen to a message about the Savior. She said yes. I almost started to walk away because I never get that response and it took me by surprise.
We sat down and the first thing she said to me was, ‘Many people think I am a Spaniard, but I am not. I am from Romania.’ She went on to tell us about how she came to Spain. Her daughter married a Spaniard who later cheated on her and kicked her out. Her daughter wanted to take her life and so this woman came to Spain to help her daughter. She left a job working at a hospital in Romania to clean homes in Spain and had been there for seven years.
At this point, she was crying uncontrollably. We just sat and listened to her. When she was finished I bore testimony of the Savior and his power to heal and bring about eternal families.
As we got ready to leave, you could see her burden had been lifted. She had a smile on her face and was excited for us to come and teach her more. She gave us her address and committed to come to church the next day. We never saw her again. We went to the address she gave us and we never got an answer at the door.
I was so grateful that I had followed the Spirit. I was taught very strongly the importance of following the Holy Ghost when it speaks to me. I was so grateful to be an instrument for the Lord to help lift the burdens of one of His children and help them to feel of His love for them.”
I had a similar experience while serving as a messenger of the Lord on my mission with my husband.
As senior missionaries walking down the hall to our apartment this week, we heard a banging on the door and a call for help from our 94-year-old friend and neighbor. She had fallen and dislocated her hip and couldn’t move. I truly doubt it was an accident that we happened down the hall at the time of her need. The Lord sends us to deliver special love notes, we call His tender mercies. Those tender mercies remind us that our Father in Heaven is aware of our needs and loves us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland summed it up this way, “In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have help from both sides of the veil” (However Long and Hard the Road, p.13-14).
Whether you are called to serve as the angel or an angel comes to you, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13: 2).
Image from Getty Images
For more neat insights from Sherrie Anthony, check out her book Reaching Through the Veil: Angels in Everyday Life.