The Night I Saw an Angel
Jesus said that to enter the kingdom, we must become as children.
And with child-like faith, we open our eyes to the reality
of His abiding presence.
Picture a stick-thin girl of ten years clad in blue jeans, sweatshirt and tennis shoes, topped off with white-blond hair and blue eyes, courtesy of her Swedish father. That was me in 1957.
When I was ten, I had an extraordinary moment that is as vivid today as the moment it occurred. There are still moments when I feel a tender yearning for that place of simple faith and wonder, “How can I get back to that place? Of believing, of knowing?”
Because I did believe, I did know. I did see an angelic visitor. Maybe it was Jesus. I wasn’t sure. But I knew he was powerful; he was other-worldly; he was real, and he was sitting beside my bed.
I was blessed to live my childhood enveloped in a large, busy family in the northern plains of Montana. I was the third of seven children born to Gunder and Harriet Pearson, wheat and cattle ranchers. We children grew up surrounded by books and music, trying to do our best in school and support our church and community. We all were involved in 4-H which kept us busy with our projects and being in the fair.
Our parents were stalwart members of a small church in our nearest town. We children were brought up having “Jesus for breakfast,” which meant my father read a Psalm to us in the morning before we left for school. We children were diligently instructed in the ways of the Lord. We were prayed over. We were loved. We were taught that our faith was not a casual part of our lives—it was the very center. We were taught to know that Christ was the center of our home, the unseen listener to every conversation.
The summer before my tenth birthday, I was finally eligible to go to Glacier Bible Kids’ Camp, which was held near Glacier Park. With all my heart I wanted to go, but my mother didn’t think I was quite ready. I went on a campaign to convince her that I was. She was stubborn. I was more stubborn, and pulled out the big guns—scripture. I wrote her an impassioned letter: “Mom, the Bible says that ‘No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give his angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.’ I will be fine! I am old enough. God will take care of me. Don’t we sing at church, “God will take care of you…through every day, all along the way”? Do we believe it or not?” I persisted.
She relented, and that July, I joined the dozen or so kids from our church and with our sleeping bags, suitcases and high excitement, we headed for Glacier Bible Kids’ Camp, a three-hour drive from our home. Unfortunately, after two days at camp, I became very ill and our pastor put me in the back seat of his car and drove me home. A rather inglorious end to camp, as I was sick in bed for a couple of weeks, most likely with strept throat. My mother had the grace not to quote scripture on obedience to me.
Later that school year, I suddenly awoke in the middle of the night. Mother always left a night light on in the kitchen, not far from the bedroom I shared with my sister. The door was ajar. I was startled to see a man sitting next to my bed. He had wavy, shoulder-length hair and was dressed in what looked like a flowing robe. He did not have a beard. He was looking off in the distance out the window. I stared, petrified, my heart pounding. Who was he? Was he an angel? Was it Jesus? The look on his face was peaceful, yet powerful. I breathed shallowly, afraid to let him know I was awake. And then, he turned and looked at me. I burned with fear.
I wanted to say something, but I was too afraid. Instead, I immediately closed my eyes, not daring to move, barely breathing. I finally fell asleep.
The next morning as I sat at the breakfast table munching my corn flakes, I told my family what I had seen. My news was received rather matter-of-factly, as often my family regaled each other in the morning with the crazy dreams we’d had the night before. But it wasn’t a dream, I insisted. It was real.
Fast-forward twenty years, and I was a young wife and mother of 27, married to a pastor. We had three small boys, 6, 4 and 2. It was a warm September night, and my pastor-husband was at a committee meeting at the church. The next day was a big day at our house—it was the first day of first grade for our oldest son, Jon. The bus would pick him up in the morning in front of our house. I couldn’t seem to get the lump out of my throat as he and I laid out what he would wear, and made sure his lunch pail was ready.
My husband Bill, was late getting home so after supper I bathed the boys and tucked them in for a story. Maybe to calm my own fears about letting my son go, I told them, “We don’t have to be afraid. God looks after us. In fact, he sends angels to make sure we are all right.” Then I told my sons about the time I awoke and saw an angel sitting beside me. I had their attention.
Just then Bill got home from his committee meeting and poked his head in the door. “Hey guys! I have a surprise—look what Alice made for you!” He held a package wrapped in foil—three beautifully decorated angel cookies, one for each boy. Jon said, “Hey! I think God is saying, ‘You really do have angels that look out for you!’”
What are the odds that I would tell that story for the first time to my three sons? What are the odds that a woman in our church decided to make angel cookies—in September—for our three boys?
That was 40 years ago. Those three little boys are now married with families of their own and Bill and I went on to have two more children and now we are blessed with 11 very active grandchildren who are the light of our lives. And yet in the rush and busy-ness of life, I sometimes wonder at the care and provision of God. We have not escaped life’s accidents, disillusionments and losses. Does He indeed take care of us?
Yes, a thousand times yes! He has never failed me, nor my family. His faithfulness has endured through all seasons. And in spite of the consuming cares of the world that too often cause me to see through a glass darkly, I’m reminded that there is more going on than what is obvious. There is a vast un-seen world. Eternity is real.
Jesus said that to enter the kingdom, we must become as children. And with child-like faith, we open our eyes to the reality of His abiding presence. He indeed is at work. All things do work together for good. We trust, knowing that the rest of the story is yet to be told.
Nancie Carmichael is a speaker and an author of several books. She and her husband Bill live in the Cascade mountains of Oregon and are publishers of Deep River Books.
 Psalm 91:10,11 NKJV