Angels are a topic of conversation in many homes during the Christmas season. We place them on tree tops and listen as children, depicting the Christmas angels, tell shepherds to go to Bethlehem to see the Savior. But do angels really exist? Bob Kristensen was about to find out.
The day was cool, dry, and sunny with a crisp feel to the air on this pre-Christmas day in 2001. Bob decided early that morning that he would cut some wood from a neighbor’s yard. She had a dead tree she wanted removed. Bob had a hungry, wood-eating furnace at home.
Completing his regular work schedule early, he headed towards the field, tools in hand. Bob, a strong Christian, had never encountered an angel, knew little about their existence except what the Bible told him, so spent very little time thinking about them at all. Smiling, with his mind on the task at hand and not on angels, he slammed the door to his truck and headed toward the large tree.
It leaned a little to the north. As Bob stared up at it, the forty or fifty foot height seemed to reach heaven. He knew a good Maple when he saw one and with a girth of three feet, Bob knew the tree had been there a long time. It had been damaged during a storm so now this tree would feed his furnace for a month or more. Bob swung his axe for the first cut.
He expected, since the tree was leaning north, that it would fall in that direction so he notched the north side of the tree. He moved around to the south side. His chain saw cut into the old bark spewing sawdust in all directions. Bob glanced at the top occasionally. The tree swayed as he reached the center with his saw, sharpened for just such a time as this. Before he had time to react, the tree fell, not to the north as was expected, but directly over the spot where he was standing. Life did not have time to flash before his eyes as the huge trunk aimed for his head.
As if in a flash, he was laying on the ground. His left leg was underneath the tree where the trunk was bowed. He wiggled his foot. No pain. He stood, dusted himself off, and checked for broken bones. None. As he looked again at the tree, some men who’d been working nearby ran to his side. With disbelief and amazement written all over their faces, each one asked if he was okay several times.
“What happened? Did any of you see what happened?” Bob looked from one face to the other.
The rougher, much younger man scratched his head, blinked a few times and then replied. “It looked as if you were moving backward very fast but neither of your feet was touching the ground.” The man surmised there was a space of about two feet between Bob’s feet and the ground under them.
That was when Bob began to think about angels, really think about them for the first time. He left the tree lying where it was and drove as fast as the law would allow toward home. He felt giddy almost, strange, thinking could it be true? Bob’s wife was not home when he got there and by this time, even though he hadn’t felt anything hit him, soreness began to make itself known in his left front shoulder. He decided to investigate. Pulling off his shirt, he discovered a large bruise. The main part of the bruise was close to baseball size but the entire left side of his chest was swollen. He shook his head. The only souvenir of his encounter with a tree that probably weighed 3000 pounds was a big ugly bruise.
Bob spoke about the incident with a friend later that evening. As most of us want to do, he began to logically explain his bruise as the remains of the tree’s encounter with his body. His friend, however, posed a good question, “If a three thousand pound tree fell on you and hit you on the chest, how could you possibly have gotten out from under it?” Bob began to feel that giddy sense of the unknown again. Maybe that bruise was from a heavenly hand after all.
Bob decided to seek his pastor’s advice the next day, after he saw the five smaller bruises, four on the back of his shoulder and one beside the larger bruise.
“The Bible says that angels are created beings with high intelligence,” the pastor began. “They have the ability to make moral judgment but they are spiritual beings without physical bodies. The Bible clearly says that there are angels who guard people although I am not convinced that there is necessarily a guardian angel assigned to each person. The idea that people who die become angels is not biblical but more an inspirational idea and popularized in the movie industry.”
He went on to explain that in scripture, angels are of a separate created order from mankind. “When human beings die, those who go to heaven remain human beings. Angels are created to serve the Lord and the Bible talks about them protecting man. Psalm 91: 11 says For He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands so you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
The Reverend went on to explain that there are angels, like man, who are fallen and that God, through His Son, has provided a redemption plan for man but not for angels.
“Do angels help some people but not others?” Bob had a hard time accepting God’s intervention in this situation.
“It would appear so, according to God’s higher purpose,” the pastor answered.
Bob went home. His senses tingling, he took another look at the bruises on his left shoulder. Each of the smaller imprints looked like a bruise but was exactly the size of a fingerprint, four on his back and one on the front of his shoulder, just a little to the right of the large bruise noticed the day before. He called his wife.
“Jean, place your hand over those bruises.” He watched in the mirror as she stood in front of him. When she placed her smaller palm over the large bruise, her thumb and fingers almost fit the exact place where the other bruises lay. Bob knew that his angel had moved him out of harm’s way. He had the hand print to prove it.
Bob walks daily with the knowledge that God cares specifically for those who love him. He has not encountered another angel, but he has experienced God’s caring in other ways. He also knows many who act as God’s angels in human form and he hopes he has become one of them.