Strangers Or Heavenly Messengers?
I read a blog the other day that said, “Accepted without question and included without hesitation. If that’s not the Jesus way, then I don’t know what is.” This was exactly how a stranger made us feel as we settled into our seats ready to watch a performance of Swan Lake at the Sydney Opera House with our daughter for her birthday treat.
The gentleman sitting next to my husband had come with his daughter too, and he admitted he’d never been to the ballet. After Act One he leaned over and said he’d enjoyed the performance. But it was strange because he never returned to his seat when the first interval was done and we were into Act Two. What had happened? Where did he go? Didn’t he know Swan Lake had more than one act?
The next day, I reflected on this stranger’s conversation with my husband a few minutes before curtain call and I thought about how much kindness was in their exchange. I was reminded of Hebrews 13:1-2, ‘Let love continue among you. Don’t forget to extend your hospitality to all – even to strangers – for as you know, some have unknowingly shown kindness to heavenly messengers in this way.’ So, was this gentleman we met at the ballet a stranger or a heavenly messenger?
The writer of the book of Hebrews was referring to Abraham’s hospitality to strangers in Genesis chapter 18, when three men appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and stood at the entrance of his tent. ‘God appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing. He ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them. He said, “Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant. I’ll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree. I’ll get some food to refresh you on your way since your travels have brought you across my path.’ Genesis 18:1-5 [MSG]
It seemed this gentleman’s travels had brought him across our path that night at the ballet, and although we hadn’t made him bread, picked out a nice, plump calf, or made some curds and milk, as Abraham did for his heavenly messengers, this stranger had imparted something into us that had left a lasting impression. I said to my husband, “I can’t quite put into words how that gentleman made us feel but it was different to anything I’ve experienced. Perhaps that man you were chatting to, the one who you felt was your best mate within a few minutes of talking to him, the stranger who appeared from nowhere and disappeared just as quickly; I think he was an angel. A heavenly messenger who needed to remind us that God is still with us and He still keeps His promises.”
You see, reading through Genesis chapter 18 is the part in Abraham’s and Sarah’s story where they were given the promise that they would have a son, even though they were way past childbearing age. Sarah had laughed at the ridiculous promise and the men scolded her because of her reaction. “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me? Is anything too hard for God? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.” Genesis 18:13-14 [MSG]
And there it was, the line that sat there on the page staring straight at my doubts and fears about the promise God had given me many years ago.
‘Is anything too hard for God?’
I think most of us can identify with Sarah’s response to the promise God gave to her from the heavenly messengers because God’s promises always feel too ridiculous, too out there, and too crazy, right?! Oh yes, doubt, confusion, fear, and wondering if God has indeed made a mistake with the details of our promise all go around and around our thinking.
It’s amazing how we so readily accept the lie that we’re too broken and incomplete because that makes perfect sense, and also keeps us comfortable. And yet, to believe that God has great plans for us and He partners with us to achieve what He promised, well, that’s just pie-in-the-sky thinking.
All the same, this stranger at the ballet, this heavenly messenger who seemed to appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly, reminded me that regardless of our struggles on whether we feel God is going to come good on His word, He still accepts us without question and includes us without hesitation, and keeps reminding us, ‘Is anything too hard for Me?’
Maybe in the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season, perhaps God is reminding you that He is still Immanuel, God with us. And it’s quite possible He’ll send strangers across your path and you’ll wonder if they were heavenly messengers upon reflection as you move toward the promise God gave to you. Just know that He hasn’t forgotten what He promised you because it says in the Bible ‘My word will go out and not return to Me empty, but it will do what I wanted; it will accomplish what I determined.’ Isaiah 55:11 [TVT]
So, whether a stranger or heavenly messenger came our way that night at the ballet, who knows? But the feeling of being accepted without question and included without hesitation by this gentleman caused me to view things differently, it made me see my promise and how good God is with fresh eyes.
We need to stop sometimes and ask ourselves when it comes to our promise, ‘Is anything too hard for God?’
No, it isn’t. Nothing, I mean seriously, nothing is too hard for God because He is Immanuel, God with us. And we need to be reminded that He isn’t just with us for the Christmas season, He’s with us all year round. Perhaps, like me, He will send a stranger who could be a heavenly messenger, letting you know that He accepts you without question and He includes you without hesitation because He’s so for you and He’s cheering you on!
Has a stranger come across your path when you least expected it, and you’ve wondered afterwards if God had sent a heavenly messenger?