We are pleased to announce Real Mercy (volume 3) has a scheduled release date of August 2015. Wesleyan Publishing House has contracted Thad for 2 more books. In these current blogs, we’d like to share sneak peaks from volume 4. We hope you enjoy it.
Please note: Part One will be a devotion from scripture. Part Two will be a journal entry based on that scripture.
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Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named the place, Mahanaim (Two Camps).
As I mentioned, I was a young pastor when this old saint died. Of all the people I’ve known down through the years, only a handful have ever told me they’d seen angels and were aware of it (Heb 13:2).
But that was his testimony.
He served as a pilot in the military. One day, returning from a routine mission, on final approach, his plane went into catastrophic failure. The plane rolled, the nose went down, and he lost control of the aircraft. There were three on board. He and his co-pilot did everything they could to right the plane. They were headed straight into the ground when, suddenly, the nose started pulling up. Unexplainably.
He looked out the window – off to the right, then to the left – and saw angels under the wings. One on each side. As real as the sun in the sky. There one minute, gone the next. But there long enough for both pilots to see.
That’s his story.
He’d spend the rest of his life telling it. He had a singular passion to win men to Christ. “I shouldn’t be here,” he’d tell them. “But I gave my life to Christ again that day. He rescued my plane. He rescued me. He can do the same for you.” A simple message that won the hearts of many. There was something about him that made us feel safe – like there was nothing to fear. Not with God on our side. Not with His angels “sent out to serve” those who put their trust in Him (Heb 1:14).
So why didn’t he feel safe? Why was he so plagued by fear?
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He confided in me about a month before he died. He was in the hospital. I could tell something was wrong. There was panic in his eyes. He was uncharacteristically fidgety. “My doctors have given up on me,” he complained. “Who’s fighting for me now?” I could tell he was still in the pilot’s seat. His body had gone into catastrophic failure. One last nosedive and he was fighting for control.
“I’m afraid,” he admitted bluntly.
He asked if I’d come around more often – which I did. One day when he was back home, about ten days before he died, I got out my Bible and read from 2 Kings 6. I wanted him to hear the story of the mighty prophet Elisha and that epic moment when the King of Syria came against him. The King sent “a great army”, with horses and chariots, to seize one man. They came by night. They “surrounded the city.” At first light of dawn, Elisha’s servant saw them and panicked.
“What shall we do?” his servant said (vs 15).
Elisha answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those with them.” And then the prophet prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes to see the vast angelic army “full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (vs 16-17).
I looked at my old friend and said, “You’ve been given the same gift.” He nodded, but I could tell it gave him no relief.
“Maybe we need to pray for the Lord to open your eyes one more time – so you can see and not fear the coming days. What do you think?” I asked.
“Two nights ago,” he replied, “I was having a fitful sleep. Too much pain in my body and too much anxiety in my soul. At some point, in the early morning hours, I fell back asleep and in my dream I saw them again. Clear as day. Like it was sixty years ago.”
“Saw who again?”
“Same angels. Same faces. Same look in their eyes. But this time, there was no plane. They’d come for me. They were appointed by God to take me safely to His heavenly kingdom (Lk 16:23; 2 Tim 4:18). And for a brief moment, I felt fear leave my body and faith fill me. I got to feel that old feeling again – the one I felt the second our wheels hit the runway. We laughed, we cried, with joy I’d never known before.”
For the first time in weeks, I saw that joy – that faith – light up his face. And then it was gone. Just like that. As if it was never there. Fear returned in force and he was spiraling back into a nosedive. Nothing I said, nothing I did, could recover him.
Not even now. Not even after the angels appeared to him a second time. What could be more comforting, more convincing, than that? I tried to reassure him that God speaks to us through dreams. “Didn’t the prophets say, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28)? But he couldn’t hear me. Not now. His eyes were darting back and forth in frenzy. As if none of it ever happened.
As if the angels never came at all.
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“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.”