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Angels Among Us

Good afternoon, everyone. I’m humbled by this opportunity to speak to you today. I’m humbled even more by your willingness to attend devotional today and listen to someone whom most of you have no idea who I am. I can help with that. I’m just a dad and, I’m told from very good sources, a real cool grandpa. I’m someone who loves his family, strives to live the gospel, attends church, and has come to work each day at what was Ricks College and now BYU-Idaho for the past 28 years. I’m also someone who is deeply concerned about you as students at this university. I love BYU-Idaho and I try each day to make your experience a little bit better. That’s who I am, and I hope my efforts are helping in some way to assist you in having a great experience at BYU-Idaho. I pray for the Spirit to attend us this day, that it may help each of us learn.

Near the end of my remarks, I will challenge each of you to do three things which you will learn about as we go. The challenge is directed to help you as you finish out this semester and venture out during your time away from school. Let’s get started.

My message is titled “Angels Among Us” and will illustrate the important part angels have played in the world’s history, as well as today. Since the days of Adam and Eve, angels have had a significant part in the Lord’s great plan of happiness. Angels are prominent figures in ancient and modern scripture. They minister to man, announce, warn, assist, protect, instruct, and give comfort to help our Heavenly Father’s children. Angels spoke to Adam and Eve and have continued through all time. The scriptures tell of how Daniel was protected by an angel in the lion’s den. In Daniel 6:22, it states, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.” [1] Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were protected by an angel when King Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the furnace. Mary was visited as she was told she would give birth to Jesus, the Son of God. Joseph Smith also had many visits from angels as the Restoration of the gospel to the earth took place. The scriptures tell us about many individuals throughout history that reached points in their lives where they could not do it alone and needed assistance, protection, or comfort. Heavenly angels came to their aid.

In an excerpt from a 2008 conference talk addressing priesthood holders, President Henry B. Eyring relates an experience he had with President Monson. Let’s watch.

When those feelings of inadequacy strike us, it is the time to remember the Savior. He assures us that we don’t do this work alone. There are scriptures to put on your mirror and to remember in the moments when you are doubting your capacity.

For instance, President Thomas S. Monson remembered the promised words of the Savior as he blessed me six months ago to stand fearlessly in my calling when it seemed hard. These words of the Savior, which He gave to His tiny band of priesthood holders in this dispensation, came to the prophet’s mind as he laid his hands on my head: “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

The promise which President Monson remembered and quoted was fulfilled for me. Confidence replaced doubt, the Spirit came, medical helpers were inspired, my life was preserved, and I was borne up. Because of that blessing by President Monson, it will always be easy for me to remember the Savior and trust His promise that He goes before and beside us in His service.

I know that the promise of angels to bear us up is real. [2]

The scripture about angels being round about you was directed to elders of the Church as they went out to spread the gospel, but it is just as relevant to each of us. Heavenly angels have been helping people during the entire history of the earth. Each of us may at times be overwhelmed, but should know we are not alone.

I want to direct the focus of my remaining remarks from heavenly angels to angels among us. Elder Holland spoke about this very subject in his talk titled “The Ministry of Angels” from general conference October 2008. Let’s watch.

“Has the day of miracles ceased?

“Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for . . . it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men. . . .

“For behold, they are subject unto [Christ], to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.”

I ask everyone within the sound of my voice to take heart, be filled with faith, and remember the Lord has said He “would fight [ our] battles, [our] children’s battles, and [the battles of our] children’s children.” And what do we do to merit such a defense? We are to “search diligently, pray always, and be believing[. Then] all things shall work together for [our] good, if [we] walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted.” The latter days are  not a time to fear and tremble. They  are a time to be believing and remember our covenants.

I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that  angelic is the only word that comes to mind. [3]

I’m looking into this audience at many who are angels, right now. We each can be mortal angels and instruments in God’s hands. I want you to think about this question: how can we be mortal angels to each other and an instrument in God’s hands?

As you ponder this question, I want to relate a short story about a young family who was blessed by mortal angels. Close your eyes. Try to visualize a young family with two small children and a mother almost nine months pregnant. Maybe you can see a neighbor family back home or someone you know from elsewhere. They’ve been preparing their young family to be ready for the wonderful time of welcoming a new sister into the family. During the mother’s last visit to the doctor, everything looked great, but 10 days later she notices a strange bruise. Being cautious, the parents go in to see their doctor. Tests are run and re-run and run again. The results look very strange. Thinking their lab equipment is not working properly, because of the odd results, the doctor sends them to the hospital to run the tests again. The hospital’s lab hurries to run the tests again.

Shortly after, the doctor is standing in front of them, stating, “We are going to have this baby right now.” Preparations are made and the mother is given medication to induce labor. Many things happen over the next few hours. The night is a wonderful experience, but also one that is extremely scary. The reasoning behind the quick delivery is the mother and baby are at risk because of low blood counts. The diagnosis, determined later, was a rare form of leukemia. The cancer had advanced in just 10 days, from where the mother was totally fine, to just barely producing enough usable blood to sustain herself and the baby.  The fear is the mother could hemorrhage and bleed to death just lying there. Everyone at the hospital feels the gravity of the emergency that is taking place. Is the baby going to be all right? Is the mom going to be all right? All the training and experience the doctor and others hold is called upon to keep both the mother and the new baby alive.

Once the baby girl is delivered, she is handed to the father because there is no one else available to take her. Full attention is turned to the new mother, whose lifeblood is leaving her faster than transfusions can be given. Four lines are inserted to give multiple transfusions, thanks to an EMT nicknamed “Sure Shot.” The father, still holding the new baby in one hand and in the other the bulb of a blood pressure cuff, is slowly pumping to squeeze a unit of blood, forcing it through the IV. Life is in the balance. They are blessed by four individuals, whom we will call mortal angels, who come to assist with the lifesaving procedures. The doctor’s skills are heightened, and I am sure inspiration guides him. Two nurses not scheduled to work that evening feel they should come in. Also, an EMT arrives and assists the doctor in saving the mom’s life. All act upon promptings. Each are vital in performing the things that help to keep the mom alive and ensure the baby is all right.

The night is long but successful. Once stabilized, the mom is life-flighted out to Salt Lake City. This is the beginning of a long and grueling treatment. How blessed they are by familiar faces and total strangers that act upon promptings they receive to help and become this family’s angels not from above but from among us. There are far too many details of miraculous things that take place that night to be able to tell them all, but over the next three years many more mortal angels come into the family’s life and help them to press on. Brothers and sisters, angels still attend us.

By the raising of hands, how many of you have had some sort of assistance where you felt God was looking out for you through the help of mortal angels, people who acted upon a prompting and became an instrument in God’s hands? Thank you.

By raise of hands, how many have acted on a prompting and assisted someone and in essence been an angel to them? Thank you.

There are so many hands that were raised. Everyone, there are angels among us. Again let’s listen to Elder Holland from 2008 as we hear his testimony of angels.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. “[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.” On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.

May we all believe more readily in, and have more gratitude for, the Lord’s promise as contained in one of President Monson’s favorite scriptures: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, . . . my Spirit shall be in your [heart], and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” In the process of praying for those angels to attend us, may we all try to be a little more angelic ourselves—with a kind word, a strong arm, a declaration of faith and “the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted.” Perhaps then  we can be emissaries sent from God when someone, perhaps a Primary child, is crying. [4]

May we each accept the challenge to be an instrument in God’s hands. The challenge I spoke about at the beginning of my message comes down to three things with this goal in mind. How do we help each other to return to our Heavenly Father? The three challenges are:

  1. Will you commit to live your life so you can have the Holy Ghost as your constant companion?

Think of what you need to continue, or change, in your life to do so.

  1. Will you commit to listen to the promptings of the Spirit?

What are the distractions you can eliminate from your life so you can hear and feel the Spirit better?

  1. As you listen to the Spirit, will you commit to act upon those promptings?

You can accomplish these three challenges; we each have what it takes.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, in the dedication of the Hinckley Building here on campus in 2002, told students of their potential. Let’s watch.

There is no end in sight for the good you can do. Do you know it? You are just simple kids. You are not geniuses. I know that. But the work of the world isn’t done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people who have learned to work in an extraordinary way people of your kind who can do these things.

I repeat. Don’t sell yourselves short. You look in the mirror every morning when you boys get up to scrape off the fuzz and the girls get up to put on the paint you look into the mirror and say “I can do the right thing today, God being my helper. And I will do it.” [5]

A prophet of God has stated you can do great things. There is no end in sight for the good you can do. Let’s take his advice and do great things. Hopefully, we can remember to not constantly distract ourselves and to provide time to allow the Spirit to speak to us. When we pull out our phones and constantly fill every waking moment with “search this,” “check this,” we limit our opportunities. Maybe we can just put our phones down for a while. Oops! That will leave a mark! I do think I just got your attention. Luckily, that wasn’t the phone I actually use, but maybe you’ll remember this sometime to help you put your phones down. Let’s create more opportunities where the Spirit can speak to us.

Hopefully, we will not experience the remorse that President Thomas S. Monson spoke about as he retold the story as a new bishop, while attending a meeting, receiving promptings to go to the hospital. He related how he ignored the prompting again and again, and felt as a new bishop he couldn’t leave the meeting early. How terrible he felt when he arrived at the hospital only to hear how the man had been calling for him and had died just before he arrived. He promised himself that night to never again ignore a prompting and to act swiftly so this would never occur again. We, too, can follow the example of President Monson and listen to the promptings we receive and act upon them. In Brian Kinghorn’s devotional message from last week titled “The Divine Characteristic of Creativity” he pointed out that when we act upon promptings we are being creative as we make a difference in someone else’s life. As we do this simple act, we are an instrument in God’s hands and an angel unto them. 

Last week on the discussion board there were many comments on how individuals had received help from others during difficult times. Often these same individuals who had received help forwarded those blessings as they acted upon promptings to reach out to others. Here are two examples.

Natasha Kaye Lowe

“My Young Women’s leader came to my rescue.” She later stated, “Because of her example in my life, I find myself reaching out and showing others the kind of Christlike love she showed me.”

Nicholas Cable

“For the longest time that I can remember, when I had a trial, there has always been someone that has been an answer to my prayers. Sometimes the answers are simple words or even sitting down with me and asking if I am okay. Those are the times that I will always remember, and those are the times that someone has helped me get through those tough times.”

My family’s life has been eternally blessed by those who became mortal angels as they acted on promptings they received. Our lives would be much different if the doctor and others had not been skilled, used their experience and knowledge, and acted upon the promptings they received.

They were guided to assist and bless my family in a time of need. We are eternally grateful. I wish my wife and family had not gone through this experience, but in hindsight, it has taught us to realize that we are dependent on our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in our lives. We are blessed by them and others who are instruments in His hands.

You never know when you may be an angel to someone in need. There might be a time when it’s a life and death situation, or it may be as simple as acting on a prompting to express a kind word or short visit with someone struggling with life. The world needs angels, and our Heavenly Father fulfills His eternal mission sometimes with immortal beings, but more often with mortal people like those of us in this room. I hope we all strive to live our lives so that we can help each other and assist our Father in Heaven to bring us home. Brothers and sisters, the gospel is true. Let’s each strive to live up to the three challenges I mentioned earlier so that we may all become the angels among us and an instrument in God’s hands. Thank you for all the good you do. I leave this message with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Daniel 6:22.

[2] Henry B. Eyring, “O Ye That Embark,” Ensign, Nov. 2008.

[3] Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Angels,” Ensign, Nov. 2008.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Gordon B. Hinckley, Dedication of Gordon B. Hinckley Building, Oct. 22, 2002;