TITLE: At the Altar
By Jan Ackerson
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When my daughter Jericho was a freshman in college, she suffered a terrible injury which required months of recuperation and rehabilitation, and left her with a permanent disability. During the long weeks of her recovery at home, I wrestled constantly with negative emotions and depression. I doubt that anyone knew what spiritual distress I was in; I became very adept at masking my pain.
One bleak Sunday morning, I was acutely feeling my separation from God. I was still angry with Him for allowing Jericho to be hurt, but even more, I was missing God and the relationship with Him that I had previously cherished. I play piano during the morning worship, and when the time came for congregational prayer, I slipped away from the piano and knelt at the altar in tears, wordlessly appealing to my Heavenly Father for comfort and forgiveness.
The piano is very near the altar, so I was kneeling there alone for several seconds while the pastor finished his invitation to the congregation to come and pray. While my spirit reached out to God, my mind was aware of the sound of many others coming forward to kneel. Being the well-brought-up Christian woman that I was, I did not peek, but I heard and felt several others, settling in all around me and even in front of me. I remember thinking (even as I prayed) that there were more people than usual praying there that morning, and that the needs must be great.
As the pastor’s prayer came to a close, a supernatural peace settled on my heart, and the heaviness lifted from my spirit. God and I were going to be all right. I opened my eyes and prepared to rise, expecting to see several friends making their way back to their pews. Instead, I was surprised to see that I was the only person at the altar, except for the pastor down at the other end.
Now, I am skeptical and somewhat disapproving of our popular culture’s current preoccupation with angels. Nevertheless—I believe that God sent several angels to pray with me that morning. I believe that He allowed me to hear and feel them settling in around me. I believe that it was they who bore my burden back to the Heavenly Father. Thank You, Father, for the brush of angels’ wings! My prayer for each of you is that at some point in your suffering, God may draw back the curtain for a moment and give you some small glimpse of heaven.
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