Chapter 43: Angels of the Lord

Psalm 34 (New American Standard Bible)

1 I will bless the Lord at all times.
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear it and rejoice.
3 O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles,
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

Angels – Hebrews 1:14 “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”

One of my earliest recollections is of a picture we had in our room when I was a little girl. You may have seen it, too. It was a picture of a little girl on a bridge over a small stream that did not have any railing to protect her from falling in. As she was stopped there looking into the stream, there was a huge angel standing nearby just in case she would need his help if she fell in. My mother and father were godly people and loved the Lord. This was their message to me: I was never to be afraid, for the Lord was with me even as a child.

One time when we were on furlough, we went to a big gettogether of my aunts, uncles and cousins down at Huntington Beach, California, where my cousin lived. During the day it was our practice to go swimming in the ocean. We all went down, but for some reason, when my cousins ran into the waves and out into the big swells beyond, I was too slow. It was too cold, and I hadn’t been swimming for years. When I caught my breath from the cold, I ran out to try and catch up with them, but the current had carried them down the beach.

I didn’t worry. I just sang and praised the Lord for the pure joy of being back home and able to be in the ocean once again. It was a perfect day, and I was completely enjoying myself as I drifted, floating on my back. When I came out of my reverie, I realized there were no other swimmers around me, so I started swimming for shore. The undertow was very strong, and the more I tried to swim, the further out I went. I steered kitty-corner thinking that would help, and I tried to stay on top and go in with the waves, but they weren’t strong waves and kept flowing over me rather than lifting me up and carrying me as I remembered they used to do.

Finally, I just got too tired. I realized I could go down and never come up—what would we do if something happened like that? How would we get our Bible translation finished? Oh, God, help! Immediately a young man appeared at my side, and I was able to reach out and put my hand on his shoulder as I had often done as a child when I got too tired and my mother was there to give me a chance to rest. He stayed with me until I was able to put my feet down on the ocean floor, but when I lifted my head to thank him, he was gone.

Again, there was no one in sight anywhere near me, and I knew internally that the Lord had sent His angel to help me. I still had a hard time getting out, but with the knowledge of God’s love and constant care, I got renewed strength and was able to make it to the shore. We know of another incident of the Lord sending His angel to help, but that time it was for Chuck, when once he was very discouraged. It was one night long ago in the Philippines at Bagabag at SIL’s northern base. We were living in Rundell Marie’s house at that time since he and his wife were out working in their allocation. Our language helper, Mr. Arsenio Luyun, was staying in the house of another family on the base and having his meals with us. After a night of translation work, he walked home and returned the next morning with a wonderful story, which we firmly believed to be a true story. The following is his statement: “Last (Saturday) night, March 18, 1978, we were having our workshop in one of the rooms in the center of Bagabag, which belongs to Summer Institute of Linguistics. We dismissed about nine o’clock in the evening.

“On my way going to my sleeping room in the house where I am staying, a tall and big person was standing near a tree smiling before me. Upon approaching him, he came nearer to my side and accompanied me to the house where I was about to go to sleep. “While on my way, I was talking to him and asking what his name was, and where he was going, but he was just smiling and smiling whenever I asked him a question. While we were walking together side by side, we were just 10 meters away from the light, (a street light), and I did not notice his disappearance. I was just turning all around to see him, but I was surprised why I did not see him and just how he disappeared from me.

“When we were on our way to the house, I was never scared because what I supposed to be my companion was a real American in personality.

“Upon entering my bedroom, I removed my clothes and went to bed. While I was on my bed, all my hairs were standing up, and I was chilled and feeling cold. That was the only time I knew that the person who accompanied me was only a ghost or spirit who was watching our work concerning the Bible.”

Arsenio believed this to be an angel of God or a Spirit of the Lord watching us and approving of the work we were doing together on His Word. We had had an especially good evening finding the sweetest, most natural Itawes expressions for the concepts that night, and we were praising Him for His help.

That night, Chuck and Mr. Arsenio Luyun were working in the center, and they had found a really good word for a concept we hadn’t been able to find before. They finished for the evening and Mr. Luyun went his way, and Chuck went his.

When Chuck got home that evening, he was very discouraged. Even though they had found a word he hadn’t known before, he was discouraged because the translation was going so slowly. He was almost in tears because of this feeling, and he felt so badly he thought of just giving up.

The next morning Mr. Luyun told us about his encounter with the “American.” Upon hearing this, Chuck was encouraged by the story that Mr. Luyun told us. I couldn’t help but feel that this was the Lord’s way of encouraging Chuck. In showing himself to Mr. Luyun, the angel could somehow get the message to Chuck, and Chuck would not give up on the translation after all. His work was really going well, though perhaps more slowly than Chuck liked, and he could rejoice, too, and continue to do his work with joy and confidence that the Lord was really with him.

The moral of these stories: our work in Bible translation was surely important, and even though sometimes it looked like we’d never make it, the Lord was with us, encouraging us and giving us strength, helping in times of need, and He surely was always there to rescue us, even sometimes sending His angels.

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