It wasn't until my Grandfather passed away. Up until then, I don't know that I ever really thought about it. Of course, I'd heard the story over and over again of the angels singing of Christ's birth, of the angel that rolled the stone away from Jesus' tomb. But to say that I ever really believed in their true existence in this life? No, I'd have to say I'd never thought of it until that night.
My Grandad was quite ill. He'd had a stroke several years before and now he lay in his bed on a Sunday night, broken and weary and ready to go home. On the days leading up to his death, I would visit and he would, with great frustration, point to the corner of the room and say, "Don't you see it?" and then sigh and close his eyes again in disappointment that he was the only one.
I was fascinated and frightened. But I had no doubt that I was in the presence of an angel that only my grandad's eyes could see the "beauty" of. As they did for Lazarus, I always imagine the spirit of my Grandad being carried away to heaven by angels.
I think of all this now in the wake of another death. Facebook is buzzing with "Thoughts and prayers to the family" and "Our condolences" and such things that people say when a loved one passes away.
But it's the "God needed another angel" or "She's got her angel wings now" that really truly bothers me. I don't know how this could be helpful or encouraging. First of all, God needs nothing. He is God, afterall. And secondly, angels are not people. People are not angels. Nor do we become angels. Angels are a separate creation made by God and for God. They guide us. They protect our children. We are not them. Thirdly, perhaps it's the popular vision of the cute little cherub with a harp that makes us want to tell others of what their loved one is now transformed into. Biblically speaking, this cannot be accurate, as most references indicate people who see angels responding by falling down on their faces in fear. That doesn't sound very cute at all.
I must apologize if you are one of the people who have used this angel reference in the past. I am certainly not targeting anyone in particular. I am just bothered by the inaccuracy of the statement. And I've read it just one too many times lately.
As the song goes, "If I die young," and they "bury me in satin", I would prefer for people to think of me as being in the presence of a loving saviour, walking hand in hand with my Grandad on the streets of Gold, and finally getting to see the angels up close, because that is one thing I want to know the secrets of, but not because I've become one.
What are your thoughts on angels? Or have you thought of it at all?