Angels. The Bible tells us they are created beings who have a definite hierarchy and hold very important jobs in heaven. Some believe that we are issued winged guardians on the day of our birth, provided to guide and protect us throughout our lives; others say when our loved ones pass on they become angels, still others speculate that angels are actually aliens. There are many beliefs about these beings, and despite our varied speculations, I feel that we can all concur that there are times in our lives when we encounter someone who breeches the realm of coincidence; someone who reiterates, almost verbatim, our most private meditations and makes us wonder if we have just had an encounter with an angel incarnate.

My husband Tom and I were sitting in the lab waiting for my name to be called for blood work when a gregarious man of color entered the lab and greeted the receptionist, in French.

“Comment allez-vous?”  (How are you all?)

The receptionist smiled politely, asked him to sign in and have a seat, which he did one chair down from Tom and me. I tried to ask his name with my limited knowledge of French and realized immediately that I used the incorrect verbiage; but in retrospect, perhaps not.

“Qui est-ce que c’est?”  (Who is it?)

The man did not answer me but began to tell us how he had learned French in high school while living in West Africa. I heard his accent now and had to lean over Tom to hear as he exclaimed what a glorious day it was, a day to be grateful for all things. 

“Just to open your eyes is a gift. Each day we may face challenges, but God didn’t say it would be a bed of roses. He said he would bear with us, help us. If God, who created me, is helping me how can I do better than that?”  The hair on my arms was standing up and I was listening intently.

I am facing a new challenge. I was in the lab for additional blood work after my ANA (anti-nuclear antibody) was positive, an indication of an autoimmune disease, specifically, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. I was having a difficult time praying about this, words it seemed, escaped me. The most I could utter (after an expletive) was “Seriously?!” and “Just whatever!”

“We need to do more than just attend church, we must read the Bible, allow it to become part of us or we become a part of the world and sin.”

Since moving to North Carolina five months ago, Tom and I have been attending Sunday services at a local church faithfully and have participated in other church events; but I have not been diligent about reading the scriptures and have been wondering if just attending church was enough to sustain me. Goose flesh crawled up my spine, I could see Tom was getting uncomfortable too, but this man had my attention.

He must have noticed Tom fidgeting. “I am sorry to sound preachy, but I must share!”His face lit into a huge smile.

In an attempt to change the subject, Tom asked if he had family. “I have a wife and 2 children; a son who is 26 living in Baltimore, doing very well for himself and a 16 year old daughter.”  My spine was tingling now! Tom and I were both born and raised in Baltimore; huh, what a coincidence? 

Then he pulled out his cell phone. “My daughter and my wife like Facebook. I sent this to them today.” he began reading his post to us. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions, fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I was almost in tears. You see, that very morning as I was getting ready for my appointment, I was quietly signing the old hymn, Great is they Faithfulness, written by Thomas Chisholm and inspired by the scripture our new friend had just shared with us. 

Again our friend reiterated, “I must share because you do not know who you will meet and how they might need encouragement… “

I stopped him in mid-sentence, “I know why you had to share. You were sent here, to this place today, just for me, for us.”

Now HE was leaning in across the open chair, his smile broad and eyes shimmering.“Tell me!” he said with enthusiasm.

“I’m here for blood work because I have… “

“Some health challenges.” Tom interrupted. At that, the phlebotomist called my name. We rose, and the man with us. “Janet Hartlove”, I extended my hand introducing myself.

“I am called Antony.”  He shook my hand. “God bless you!”  He may have stated his last name, but I don’t recall, and I’m not sure that it mattered. The message he had delivered was received loud and clear. No matter what the blood work revealed, I was going to be ok, because God is faithful, each and every day!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father

There is no shadow of turning with Thee

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not

As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be…

Great is Thy faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me…