Monday, October 4, 2010

Through My Kitchen Window

Angels and Demons - Part 1

It’s October – the month when people think of scary, haunting things. So, in keeping with the season, I am posting a two part blog about strange happenings.

Angel Encounter – or was it a dream?

Life for a foreign missionary can be quite challenging. During a particularly difficult time in his mission career, my father grew discouraged to the point of questioning his effectiveness as a missionary. One night, he received an unusual phone call. We had phone service in Nigeria. It was not what one might be accustomed to in the US, but it was phone service of a sort. Our service only connected the missionary houses to each other and to the hospital. An operator at the hospital worked a switch board which allowed Doctors like my father to be reached at home in the case of an emergency.

This particular night, the phone beside my parent’s bed rang and my father answered. But the voice on the other end of the phone was not the hospital operator; it was my grandmother, my father’s deceased mother. The conversation went like this:

“Ma! Is that you??!!”

“Yes, it’s me.”

“Ma! How are you calling me? You are dead!”

“I know, but sometimes God allows us to reach across the gulf to help those we love when they are in need. God has given me permission to call you and to tell you to hold on to Christ.”

Hold on to Christ

This statement had special meaning to my father. When he was a child he had heard the story of Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma, suspended in a well. He had been hoisted up by his thumbs and suspended for hours at a time that way. (I tried to research this fact and only found a passing reference to it in an article by Dr. Jack Van Impe called, “The Judgment Seat of Christ”)

As my father remembered the story, during the time Adoniram Judson was suspended by his thumbs, his wife, Ann stood vigil over him. He cried out to her, complaining that he felt like he was falling. He could not grip the rope tied to his thumbs so he had nothing to hold on to. Ann encouraged him to, “Hold on to Christ.” This story made a huge impression on my father as a child. And now in his own personal struggle, his mother was calling him from heaven to remind him to “Hold on to Christ!”

He asked his mother what heaven was like but she said she was not allowed to tell him that. He kept asking her anyway. Finally, she said, “Heaven is more wonderful than you can ever imagine, but I did not call to tell you about that. I called to tell you to hold on to Christ!”

Then her voice fell silent. My father found himself sitting on the side of his bed with the telephone in his hand. Was this an angel or a dream? It was characteristically different from most dreams in some specific ways. It was oriented to reality where as dreams are often abstract from reality. In this “dream” my father immediately told his mother, “Ma, you are dead.” and she agreed saying, “Yes, I am.” In addition, my father was a physician. He received calls in the middle of the night on a regular basis. He had learned to quickly become awake and alert enough to make decisions about patient’s care – sometimes life and death decisions.

So, was it a dream or an angel? Or was it actually my grandmother reaching across the gulf as she said? We may never know the answers to these questions until we are in heaven. But whatever it was, God sent it for His purposes – to encourage my discouraged father in his work.

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