Encounters with Angels: The Presence

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During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, assisted living homes implemented strict visitation protocols that prohibited family members from seeing their loved ones. However, despite these restrictions, my wife Peggy and I were given special permission to visit my mother who was close to dying. It was a difficult time, but we were grateful for the opportunity to be with her in her final moments.

Upon arrival at the front desk, we signed in, had our temperatures taken, and were given masks to wear. “91.7,” the receptionist said. “You’re good to go.” 

Peggy and I saw no other visitors as we got on the elevator and rode it to Mom’s floor. When we arrived, we heard the elevator bell ding and announce… “third floor.”

We exited, then buzzed ourselves through the automatic doors to the Alzheimer’s wing. There was not a soul to be seen. The hallways were empty as all residents were restricted to their rooms, creating an eerie stillness.           

Mom’s room was just around the corner.

A photo of a much younger woman was hanging on the door to her room. How beautiful she was, I thought. But what matters most “is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind God delights in.”Mom was still beautiful, despite her age. She was ninety-five.

The door was slightly ajar, so Peggy and I pushed it open and quietly entered. The room seemed dark and lifeless as Mom gently slept. Only her soft breathing could we detect. It was the same room we had always visited in the past, only it seemed different this time. She did not greet us. There was no “Hello, Dear. How wonderful to see you!”  Instead, Mom lay with the covers pulled up to her neck; a stuffed toy animal nestled against her cheek. Her face appeared drawn and sallow, her body thin and frail. It was difficult seeing someone you love die, although thankfully, it did not seem that she was suffering.

As I looked around the room at the many family pictures hanging on the walls and her dresser, one picture stood out to me – it was of the house I spent my childhood. It was a beautiful tutor-style home, originally stained in a dark “chocolate” brown, which was now beige. However, the picture seemed incomplete without the tall oak tree Dad planted when we first moved to 223 Mountain Way. I vividly remember watching that tree grow from a sapling to maturity before a storm uprooted it. The backyard now looked empty without it. How profound, I thought. Just as the tree was a memory, Mom would be too, and so would our life be empty without her as well. Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 says, “There is a season for everything, and a time for every event under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted.”

As I stood by Mom’s bedside and Peggy sat, we took turns gently rubbing Mom’s arm and squeezing her hand. Mom squeezed back. She was grateful for our presence.

It had been several weeks since Peggy and I saw Mom last due to COVID-19 regulations. When we finally got to visit her, we were only allowed to stay in her room. Despite this, we still cherished our memories of taking Mom for strolls outdoors or down a long corridor with big windows. We would sit there, talk, reminisce and I would play my flute for her.

Mom used to enjoy listening to me play my flute, as did the patients and visitors who passed by. They often stopped to make song requests, which I always obliged. It felt like a mini concert! Mom just loved, loved, loved it! Sometimes I would bring the flute my mother had bought me in high school – a 1968 golden-era professional Haynes flute. To my surprise, Mom remembered it, even though dementia had erased much of her memory. I would ask her, “Mom, what would you like me to play for you?” and suggest some songs. She would always respond joyfully, “Oh, yes dear, that would be wonderful.”

As always, I played my mother one of her favorite songs, “Over the Rainbow.” I never thought much about the lyrics before, but they seemed to have greater meaning now. The Bible describes such a place as an eternal place of splendor and paradise, much like the one described in the song. Can you imagine a place such as this where “troubles melt like lemon drops,” where over the rainbow bluebirds fly? A place where every tear is wiped from your eyes and “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.” The thought of it is wonderful, yet sad to see Mom leave us.

As I played my flute for her, I struggled to hold my emotions together, knowing that Mom’s dream of somewhere over the rainbow would soon be a reality. My lips began to quiver, and tears welled up in my eyes. I realized this would be the last time I could ever serenade her.

The notes seemed to waft in the air as if on doves’ wings, bringing an angelic atmosphere to the room. She lay peaceful and calm, her breathing shallow. Yet, a small smile appeared in the corners of her lips as I played for her.

DON’T YOU SEE THEM?

Suddenly, Mom became alert and began pointing. Her hand slowly moved upward toward the corner of the room, then to the left, and then to the right. As her gaze roved back and forth, her hand followed. She wanted us to see what she was seeing. I felt a chill go up and down my spine. “Mom, what are you seeing?”  Even though she did not speak, I could imagine her asking with her eyes wide, “Don’t you see them?” What she was looking at, I instinctively knew, was incredibly beautiful. It is common for angels to visit people preparing to crossover to the other side of eternity.

But then, moments later, her demeanor changed from one of elation to one of terror. She pulled her blanket tightly around her neck. We followed her gaze but didn’t see anything. Interestingly, this incident reminded me of a vision my father had one week before he died.

NIGHT TERROR

It was 1962, a couple of weeks before Christmas, that Mom was startled out of her sleep when my father suddenly awakened in a cold sweat, frozen in terror. He was pointing at an ominous, black-cloaked, hooded, featureless figure standing in the corner of their bedroom at the end of their bed. As I was young and impressionable, hearing this scared the bejeebers out of me! Had I not already been afraid of going into our basement at night or walking up the stairs to the attic where a life-size doll named “Peter Doll” greeted me and whose eyelids blinked, compounded what I was already predisposed to, fearing the unknown and what could be lurking in the dark. Was the visitation foreboding of something bad to happen or something else? Mom said that Dad believed for quite a while that he was going to die prematurely. Dad died at the early age of 37 a week later.

DECEMBER 19, 1962

It was Christmastime in our neighborhood, a quiet tree-lined street of Sycamores in a small suburb of New Jersey just outside of New York City where, from my bedroom window, I could see the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world.  Houses across the street were decorated with brightly colored lights. Occasionally you could hear carolers singing. As in past years, Christmas was all about making memories, love, laughter, and happiness. It was to be a joyous time with family and friends. The Christmas tree was adorned with glistening balls and lights, and we were looking forward to opening gifts, and enjoying homemade cookies and milk by the fireplace.  This year should have been no different, but tragedy struck 6-days before Christmas. 

It was a cold and wintry night in December when suddenly our quiet neighborhood was startled out of the warmth and comfort of their homes by sirens, flashing lights, and emergency vehicles, while I sat in the seclusion of my basement watching Dragnet, a police drama on our small RCA wood grain veneer black and white console television set with rabbit ears for an antenna. I was so engrossed in the show that I didn’t even notice the loud, high-pitched sirens of police and ambulance vehicles outside. They were drowned out by the “Waaaaaahhhhhhh” of police sirens on the TV inside.     

Earlier in the day, Dad visited our family doctor with my brother Bob, both with flu-like symptoms. However, instead of Dad going home to bed afterward, and because of his unwavering devotion to his students, he returned to conduct the high school Christmas band concert that evening. By the concert’s end, he was feeling much worse and left immediately without speaking to anyone.  I didn’t hear him come home that night.

A sudden rush of cold air hit me when I came up from the basement. The front door was wide open, and to my horror, police and ambulance workers were scrambling in and out of our house. A gurney was being brought up our front steps through our front door, and although the sirens had all but stopped, a single red beacon light that sat on the top of each emergency vehicle continued to flash. The red domed light, sometimes called a gumball light because it resembles the dome top of a gumball machine, flashed ominously.  

People in the neighborhood were starting to gather outside. “Mom, Dad!” I cried out. But there was no answer from either of them. Our next-door neighbor came running through the front door, half-dressed with just a towel around his waist, having just gotten out of the shower.

I was 11 years old and scared beyond words. I froze momentarily, but not from the frigid air. Terror permeated every part of my being as I looked up in disbelief at my mom standing at the top of our hallway stairs outside their bedroom. “What’s happening?” I cried out, fearing something awful. Our eyes met, and then, instinctively, I knew something terrible had happened. She didn’t have to say a word; I knew my dad was gone. 

It was a reaction to penicillin that claimed my father’s life—a sudden and severe anaphylactic response that left his vocal cords constricted, obstructing the passage of air to his lungs until he could no longer breathe.

My Aunt Sis had just arrived. She ran to me, placing an arm around my shoulder; she quickly took me aside, out of the way of the emergency responders. Aunt Sis got my coat. “Let’s go for a walk,” she said. My Dad’s sister wasn’t crying, although I could sense her sadness. As we walked around the block, she kindly and gently explained to me that my dad had passed away and gone to a better place. Tears filled my eyes and streamed down my face.  The pain I felt was unbearable. I was devastated and heartbroken. I asked once more, “Where’s Daddy, Aunt Sis?”  She replied softly, “He’s in heaven.” I looked up at the sky, full of stars on this cold wintry night, and wondered if my father was looking down on me from above.

Aunt Sis and I must have walked for a long time as the ambulance and police cars had already left. The carolers had gone home, and the neighbors had already returned inside to the warmth of their houses. While we were walking, I remembered walks I took with my father when I would ask him questions about God. My father would tell me that God is everywhere, in everything, even in the trees he created.”  I looked up at the star-filled sky and thought about heaven being there.  “Is that where Daddy is, Aunt Sis?”  My aunt nodded affirmatively.  I missed him deeply and cried out to him, but there was only silence. I began to shiver, and my Aunt Sis held me closer. “Let’s go home, Billy,” she said.

ANGEL OF DEATH

Some people believe that the Angel of Death, not to be confused with the Angel of Darkness, appears to a person just before they die. This angel is regarded as benevolent and serves as a messenger and servant of God. Its role is to warn people of their imminent death and to urge them to get their affairs in order. I personally believe that my father had an encounter with this angel.

Colossians 2:14 teaches us that God is merciful and desires for no one to perish. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross allows for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Therefore, Satan has no power over those who have accepted Jesus as their savior. Jesus’s sacrifice has canceled out every transgression and arrest warrant on our record. “Then Jesus made a public spectacle of all the powers and principalities of darkness, stripping away from them every weapon and all their spiritual authority and power to accuse us. And by the power of the cross, Jesus led them around as prisoners in a procession of triumph. He was not their prisoner; they were his!” Christ was victorious over death.”

A STUDY OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS, DATES AND NUMBERS

A few years ago, I came across my father’s small pocket testament, which had his written confession of faith. It was comforting to know that he had been born again in the Spirit. What struck me the most, however, was that my father’s spiritual birth date and death date were on the same day of the month – December 19, 1937, and December 19, 1962, respectively.

While studying the numbers 25 and 37, I discovered some exciting revelations about and connections between significant life events in my father’s life – his physical birth, spiritual rebirth, and death.

In 1925, which I will refer to as ‘25’ from here on, my father was born. In ‘37, he experienced a spiritual rebirth into the Kingdom of Christ according to his confession of faith. In 1962, he passed away and entered the heavenly embrace of the Father’s arms. He was 37 years old when he died, exactly 25 years after his spiritual rebirth.

It’s interesting to note that when you add 25 and 37, the sum is 62, which happens to be the same year my father passed away. What’s also interesting to note is that this realization came to me in 2024, which is precisely 62 years after his death.

The number 25 also symbolizes “grace upon grace” in the Bible. The number combines 20, meaning redemption, and five, meaning grace or grace multiplied (5 times 5). It’s amazing to see how all these numbers align providentially in my father’s life as if it were meant to be.

“I don’t believe that these dates were a coincidence, and I don’t have an explanation for his untimely death. However, it is not a matter of chance or accident when someone passes away. The Bible clearly tells us that our lives are in God’s hands, and He knows the time of our death, having already appointed it. The Bible says, “Man’s days are determined; God has decreed the number of his months and has set limits he cannot exceed.”2

WE SAID OUR GOODBYES

When Peggy and I sensed Mom’s terror, we instinctively knew what it was. Without hesitation, we called out “In the Name of Jesus” and prayed for the Father’s Love to surround and comfort her. As a result, Mom became peaceful again and her breathing slowed.

As it was getting late, we knew it was time to say goodbye.  We squeezed Mom’s hand for one last time and kissed her gently on the cheek; we said our goodbyes. As we closed Mom’s door behind us, we instinctively knew that this was symbolic, not of the end of a story as the world would define the end of life, but rather the continuation of life into the embrace of the Father’s love, a new chapter.

Peggy and I walked silently down the hallway. making our way toward the elevator. No one was seen or heard except for the faint sound of televisions playing from other residents’ rooms. It was a somber moment for me as I knew this would be the last time we would see my mother alive. Later that night, we received the heartbreaking news that she had passed away and gone to be with her heavenly Father.

Copyright 2024 by Bill Hutzel

FOOTNOTE
1. 1 Peter 3:3-4
2. Job 14:5, NIV







                                                           


A Study of Significant Events, Dates, and Numbers

(an excerpt from Encounters with Angels – The Presence)

A few years ago, I came across my father’s small pocket testament, which had his written confession of faith. It was comforting to know that he had been born again in the Spirit. What struck me the most, however, was that my father’s spiritual birth date and death date were on the same day of the month – December 19, 1937, and December 19, 1962, respectively.

While studying the numbers 25 and 37, I discovered some exciting revelations about and connections between significant life events in my father’s life – his physical birth, spiritual rebirth, and death.

In 1925, which I will refer to as ‘25’ from here on, my father was born. In ‘37, he experienced a spiritual rebirth into the Kingdom of Christ according to his confession of faith. In 1962, he passed away and entered the heavenly embrace of the Father’s arms. He was 37 years old when he died, exactly 25 years after his spiritual rebirth.

It’s interesting to note that when you add 25 and 37, the sum is 62, which happens to be the same year my father passed away. What’s also interesting to note is that this realization occurred in 2024, which is precisely 62 years after his death.

The number 25 also symbolizes “grace upon grace” in the Bible. The number combines 20, meaning redemption, and five, meaning grace or grace multiplied (5 times 5). It’s amazing to see how all these numbers align providentially in my father’s life as if it were meant to be.

I don’t believe that these dates were a coincidence, and I don’t have an explanation for his untimely death. However, it is not a matter of chance or accident when someone passes away. The Bible clearly tells us that our lives are in God’s hands, and He knows the time of our death, having already appointed it. The Bible says, “Man’s days are determined; God has decreed the number of his months and has set limits he cannot exceed.”

Fruit or no fruit? Which tree do you most resemble?

Lately, I have felt more like the tree on the right, withered, dry, brittle lacking any life. Sometimes we let things, circumstances, and even people drain us of our vitality. What might have taken days, weeks, and months to turn us into a shriveled mess in an instant can be changed around. When I turn my attention away from myself, and my circumstances, and instead turn towards the source of life and water, I begin to perk up, to look more like the fruit-bearing tree on the left. In the natural world, it takes buckets of water to get the tree looking more life-like, but in the supernatural, in the Spirit, with just a simple turning of my gaze off self, to Christ Jesus, I’m alive again!

Refreshed, Renewed, Restored back to Vibrant life.

Isn’t this really where we want to be, living our lives, vibrant, sparkling, and energetic so anyone who comes into contact with us can glean life, hope, joy, and peace? Instead of sensing a dull lifeless person, I am grateful, that there’s fruit for them to taste and see how good My God is.

I hope and pray that this simple reminder and visual of a fruitful tree versus a withered tree brings you to the point where you too question, today, at this moment, which am I resembling more? And then you drink in the magnificence of who God has been for you in your life. How He rescued you from dark places; how He gave and gives you all you need; How He has protected you from situations perhaps too painful to recount, yet He was there in the midst of it, lifting you up and seeing you into the future; how He has lead you to greener, richer soil.

In the natural, a plant needs a handful of things to flourish. 1. Good soil 2. Plenty of water 3. Adequate sunlight 4. Proper care 5. Time and patience.

James 1:17 says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. I believe God designed us already to be Good soil. He says we are Good soil, He placed a multitude of perfect giftings, talents, ideas, and richness inside of us. He said it is perfect, we are not only Good soil, but we are also perfect soil. Do we believe it? Do we believe Him? Perhaps to believe it, it’s easier if we say it like this – I am perfectly good soil.  Your turn, say it out loud a few times, emphasizing each word, I am perfectly good soil. I AM perfectly good soil.  I am PERFECTLY good soil. I am perfectly GOOD soil. I am perfectly good SOIL  Now, turn your face away from what has your attention, whatever is distracting you, and face the God of the universe, watch Him pour out buckets full of Living water that will Renew, Refresh, and Revitalize you to be Fruitful.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

Copyright 2023 by Peggy Hutzel

What is one to do when one’s heart becomes troubled?

Did you know? Johann Sebastian Bach fathered 20 children, only of which 10 survived, all having tragically died before adulthood.  In total, he lost three children to his first wife and seven children to his second wife. Illness, plagues, and the limited medical care of the times meant many didn’t make it past their young years. Then, in 1720, after 13 years of marriage, his first wife, Maria Barbara Bach, suddenly died while Bach was traveling and before he could say goodbye. Bach was distraught with grief. Just over a year later, he remarried, and with his second wife, Anna-Magdalena, they lost four more daughters and three sons—ten beloved children. I can hardly imagine how he was able to go on. And yet he continued to write some of the most beautiful music the world has heard.

In 2016, I composed and uploaded a song on YouTube entitled “We Cry Of / In Quiet Faithfulness.” The song is original, except for some lyrics borrowed from J.S. Bach. It’s a personal testimony of mine. You can click the link below to listen to it.

The world was in turmoil when I wrote the opening segment titled “We Cry Of” in the early 1970s. The Beatles, public demonstrations, disorder (sound familiar?), gas shortage lines, and the Vietnam War were in full swing. In 1971, the Jesus Revolution was Time magazine’s featured front cover. It was a period in history of soul searching, of looking inward. It was a time when I was trying to find my identity. Although my struggles were hardly as tragic as Bach’s circumstances, I, too, experienced life’s trials – the death of a loved one, the unfaithfulness of a friend, a feeling of insecurity, a lack of understanding, and personal problems.

Christmas in 1962 was to be a joyous time with family and friends. The Christmas tree was adorned with glistening balls and lights, and we were looking forward to opening gifts and enjoying homemade cookies and milk by the fireplace.  However, this year would be different, as tragedy struck 6-days before Christmas. My father was 37 years old, young, and I was 11 years old when he tragically passed away.

Growing up without a dad had a profound effect on me as a boy of 11 into young adulthood. It was life-changing. As my father was absent for half of my schooling, I was not able to go to him for emotional support, so emotional instability and complex relationships were the norm throughout my middle school and high school years and even into my college years.  I needed my father because they play a role in every child’s life that others cannot fill. An interesting study showed that fathers significantly impact a child and help shape them into the person they become, not only on the inside but on the outside, as well as how others perceive them and how they have relationships with others as they grow.  

By the time I attended college in 1969, instead of being in touch with the joys of my past, I often had negative thoughts. Unresolved trauma and emotional pain from my high school years still followed me. I felt vulnerable and insecure, felt shame for my past, and was often anxious. So, in search of a new way to live, I became a part of the ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ long-haired hippie counterculture that was sweeping America.

You might ask, what is anyone to do when unfortunate circumstances happen to you, none of which you can control? The Bible says one must look to Jesus and the comfort He can give. And so, in my trouble, I cried to the Lord, and He answered me (Psalm 120:1). Like many “long beautiful hair, shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen, give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer”2 haired hippies, I began to question the gospel. I would eventually discover my identity in Christ, the Father who extravagantly loves and gives, the God of mercy and all comfort, a Father whose heart was for me to return to His loving embrace and find solace in Him.

O Lord, please rescue me. Come quickly to help me, O Lord (Ps. 40:13)

Took Wings and went to heaven

During the Bridge of the song, I took wings and went to heaven, got saved, and came back to earth. That was in 1972. Although we really don’t take wings and go to heaven, get saved, and come back to earth, it’s merely a figure of speech that shows one’s need to transcend our worldly life to a higher spiritual realm in which we meet Christ as our savior and lover. It is one’s faith in Christ that rescues us from controlling our destiny and prepares us to live “In Quiet Faithfulness.”

In Quiet Faithfulness

IIn this last song segment, God is my refuge, safe and sure, my staff and rod in trouble, need, and stress. I am content, and in patience, I endure.  And like Bach, through it all, I find solace for “God is my refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1 New Living Translation).

“In quiet faithfulness, I love and serve my God.

In trouble, need, and stress, He is my Staff and Rod. (Ps. 23:4)

In God, I am content, In patience I endure, In Him my house and I find refuge safe and sure (Nahum 1:7)”

“I therefore thank my God and love and serve Him still;

What happens in this world must ever be God’s will.

I place in child-like trust my life into His care.

In God, I am content, what’ere my sphere or share.“ 

I, too, have made these lyrics my prayer.

Do you truly understand who God is, as revealed in the Bible? For faith in God to be genuine, we must accept Him as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. 
Have you surrendered your life to His care? It’s resigning your life into his hands to do with you as he pleases. 
Is He your refuge safe and sure, your staff and rod in trouble, need, and stress?
Can you place in child-like trust your life into God’s care?
Can you give thanks in all circumstances?
And in any and in every circumstance, have you learned the secret of contentment? The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So, take a few minutes now, call upon Him, for He is your helper, and make Psalm 46:1-3 below your declaration, then listen to “We Cry Of / In Quiet Faithfulness,” and make the song’s words your prayer and declaration. See the YouTube link below.

Prayer/Declaration: God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in times of trouble— more than enough and always available whenever I need you. I will never fear even if every support structure crumbles. I will not fear even when the earthquakes and shakes, moving mountains and casting them into the sea. For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode my faith in you.

Copyright 2023 by Bill Hutzel

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FOOTNOTE
1 America Out of Gas – A Lesson in Patience by Bill Hutzel, 2016
2 “Hair” by the Cowsills, 1969

Copyright 2023 by Bill Hutzel

That’s Amazing Grace

“Grace is not just a word. Grace is not just a noun. Grace is God’s supernatural, enabling power, and His favor that gives you the strength to be an over-comer of your circumstances. The Lord gives grace to the humble. He will give you more grace. Just ask Him.” (Thirty Days with Jesus in the Secret Place by Yvonne and Sarah Jane Svitlik)

In 2019, my wife and I attended a Global Awakening conference. At the end of the first day, we were asked to pray for the person next to us. The person I prayed for had severe vision impairment and was legally blind. Although I could not pray for his healing at that moment due to time constraints and being asked to vacate the conference center auditorium, I felt a spiritual prompting to reconnect with him the following day. He agreed.

That night, I awoke from my sleep at 4:20 a.m., sobbing into my pillow for a man I had recently met, whom I will call John. Embarrassed, I turned away from my wife so she might not see or hear me. Then, I distinctly heard in my spirit from God that He wanted me to play “Amazing Grace” for this man. In 2019, I received a prophetic word that I was to take my flute with me everywhere, so, in obedience, I brought it to the conference.  

It all made sense. God reminded me of the words to the song. “I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see.”  I believe that God wanted me to pray for the restoration of this man’s physical eyes.

The auditorium and hallways were packed with people, yet the two of us managed to find each other. “Can we go downstairs where it is quiet?” I asked.  During our conversation, which lasted almost two hours, he revealed that he had not been blind since birth but believed that a macumba curse, like Voodoo, had been placed on him several years ago while he was on a mission trip to Brazil. Macumba is an Afro-Brazilian religion known for practicing the most powerful black magic.

“If you want to see the sick get healed, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” – Randy Clark

I was somewhat apprehensive at first because there was a risk of being disappointed should little ol’ me pray for him and he was not healed. Disappointment is natural when you step out in faith, praying for something that appears impossible. It is also the main obstacle that prevents people from experiencing the miraculous wonders of God. However, if you are unwilling to take a risk and step out in faith, you might miss out on His miraculous power to heal and restore. So, in obedience, I decided to obey and allow God to do what came naturally to Him: heal and restore. 

As I yielded to God’s direction to pray for John and follow through with playing “Amazing Grace” on my flute, God’s grace empowered me to minister effectively. I felt more confident, and with my authority in Christ, I began praying and commanding healing in Jesus’ Name.  

But I would first need to get a benchmark of what John could or could not see.  I held up two fingers in my right hand. Then, I held up five fingers in my left hand.  In both tests, he could not tell me how many fingers I had raised. However, after praying for him, I re-assessed his sight. I held two fingers in my right hand again, and he miraculously saw them.  Then, I held up five fingers in my left hand, and this time, he accurately told me how many fingers I had raised. He even said that he was beginning to make out my facial features, which had previously been blurry. Although he didn’t receive complete healing, he believed that God had started the healing process and was confident he would regain complete restoration of his sight.

And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22).

I often wonder what would have happened if we had continued to pray.

Although he was not completely healed, it was a beginning.  Even though I had hoped to see complete healing, we both needed to continue to believe God was still in control.  When we rely on our own strength, the healing process rarely makes sense. This is because God’s faith transcends our own. His faith works supernaturally, beyond the limitations of our natural faith. That’s amazing grace to have such faith.

Copyright 2023 by Bill Hutzel

Into the Storm

Let me pose a question. Do you believe in divine intervention, or attribute significantly related events to coincidence? Let me phrase that differently. When the simultaneous occurrence of events appears significantly related, do you believe that they have no causal connection, or do you believe they have a divine purpose? Many of us who tend to doubt and deny aspects of experience that aren’t measurable and verifiable, might say, “Oh, that’s just coincidence.”  But what if that coincidence occurs multiple times for the same event?

It was at the end of October 2012 that Storm Sandy caused much damage to the Northeast. It was the second most catastrophic and costliest natural disaster in US history, just behind Hurricane Katrina. The storm was not just an atmospheric storm but a personal storm for me. It was a time that I could have relinquished to despair and blamed God for my misfortune, but something miraculous happened. It would be life-changing.

The day before Storm Sandy came ashore and wreaked havoc with much devastation, I fell in my driveway and fractured my wrist in two places and crushed it.  I was at the time, preparing for the coming storm. I would need to secure all items that could potentially fly and cause damage by Hurricane Sandy’s wind speeds and torrential rains.

Although the driveway was dry, it was that time of year when it became treacherous, as a fine layer of pine needles blanketed it. Every breeze and rain that caused these pine needles to fall from the five white pines that lined my driveway, accumulated causing the surface to become as slippery as a cold wintry snow and ice mix. I had learned to walk across patches of snow and ice, but apparently, I had not learned to traverse pine needles without falling. That’s when catastrophe struck. 

“Lexi! Go fetch, girl,” I yelled to my dog, and threw a ball at her. Normally, she would always fetch the ball, but this time she didn’t. Was it because she could sense bad weather coming? Dogs who perceive low-pressure systems coming, it is believed, can cause them to become agitated and or less active. As the ball began to roll down the long, inclined driveway, I got this brilliant idea to run after it myself. And as I did so, my feet went out from under me and up into the air I went. As I began my descent, I instinctively braced for the impact by stopping the fall with my right hand. Crash! I lay there for a short while, the wind knocked out of me, and in excruciating pain. When I got up, my hand appeared to be bent to the right, and out of alignment with the rest of my arm.  I desperately wanted to believe that it was just a bad sprain.

I perceived my condition as a view from the valley floor between two mountains instead of from God’s perspective at the top. But then how could I think otherwise from the place where God saw my affliction when fear and doubt prevented me from seeing any possibility that good could come of my suffering? My mind was a relentless barrage of negative thoughts and what-if scenarios. What if my wrist is broken?  What if it doesn’t heal properly? What if there is permanent damage?  Will it affect my ability to perform again? This last question weighed the most heavily on me as I am a professional flutist. It just didn’t look good. I couldn’t squeeze my hand or move it and my wrist appeared severely swollen. Yet, God would hear my heart cry despite myself, and he would answer it.

No one was around to help me, so I got myself up off the ground and then one-armed drove myself to the hospital.  After checking in to the emergency unit, I was led to a curtained waiting room where I would be examined, and X-rays ordered. I would not get the results for another lonely couple of hours which seemed like an eternity of waiting.  When the surgeon finally arrived, he pulled back the curtain and entered holding his clipboard and the results of my X-rays. “Mr. Hutzel?” he asked as if to confirm that I was he.  “Yes,” I answered apprehensively.  “From the results of your x-rays, Mr. Hutzel,” and he paused momentarily. My heart also stopped momentarily, figuratively speaking.  “I am sorry, but I have bad news for you. My worst fears were realized. Your wrist is fractured badly and will require a plate and 3 pins. We will have to operate tonight. I will have someone come and get you prepped. I will see you in the operating room in just a little while.” My heart sank. But, for some reason, and without careful thought, I declined the surgery and asked the surgeon to set my broken wrist the old-fashioned way.

On whose authority was I speaking?  Who the heck was I to tell the doctor how to proceed?  The surgeon wasn’t amused in the slightest and strongly objected, giving me all the reasons why I should have the surgery. “No, Mr. Hutzel, I don’t think you understand. Due to the severity of the break, we must operate tonight.” Still, I insisted. If I was wrong, what would the worst-case scenario be anyway, that I would have to return a couple of days later for the surgery?  Decided then!  I would not have the surgery.  He set my broken wrist and wrapped it in a temporary splint supported by a sling over the shoulder, expecting to see me a couple of days later after Storm Sandy passed. “See you Monday,” he said, although I would not see him until a week later because a state of emergency was declared in New Jersey. For days, no one would be allowed to travel except for emergency vehicles due to power outages, trees down, and roads impassable.

Miracles Still Happen Today

The next morning, I asked my friend John to drive me to the first of two services that I usually attended on Sunday mornings. I was scheduled to play flute with the worship team, but of course, that would be impossible. Have you ever seen a one-handed flutist?  Well, except perhaps for Jethro Tull.  So, I sat out the service. Afterward, I asked John if he would drive me to the 11:00 a.m. service at Zarephath Christian Church of which I was also a member. I invited John to just drop me off as I didn’t want to inconvenience him, but he stayed.

We found seats at the front of the auditorium in the 3rd row on the right and sat down until we were invited to stand for worship. As the singers, guitars, and drums played, I could feel God’s presence. It was during this time that I called out to the Lord in my anguish and pain and prayed. “Lord, in my place of weakness and need, won’t you turn your heart toward me and hurry to help me? For you are my Savior, and I’m always in your thoughts. So don’t delay to deliver me now, for you are my God.” (Psalm 70:5, TPT). 

With my one good arm outstretched to God in worship, I then heard what I thought was an audible voice. In the Bible, God spoke directly to Abraham; He spoke directly to Moses; He spoke directly to Job.  But, of over 8 billion people in the world today, why would God speak to little ol’ me? Try to make logical sense of that. You just can’t!

Then I heard it. “Bill, you are healed!”  It was so clear, that I turned around to see who said it in the row behind me. No one made eye contact with me or spoke, so I thought I was hearing things. I returned to singing praise and worship, and then I heard it again. “Bill, you are healed!” 

Was I delusional? Had I really heard God or was I certifiably crazy? Most people who read the Bible understand that these biblical accounts of hearing God’s voice really did happen but no longer today. I believe that is a lie. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and if he lives in me and I live in him, then miracles and healing are very much alive today.

Instead of becoming overly analytical and doubtful, as was my nature, I spontaneously got a check in my spirit that this was a Word of Truth. Forgive the cliché, but I took that check and ran to the bank and cashed it.

“Your faith has made you well, now go in peace, and be healed” (Mark 5:24).

Immediately following the service, I approached the pastor and asked him to pray for me. From his pocket, he pulled a bottle of prayer oil and anointed me with it.  He, then, gently placed his hand on my right arm.  “In the name of Jesus, be healed,” he commanded. As he did this, I felt heat travel through my entire arm. Warmth or heat felt from someone’s touch is often a confirmation that one’s prayer has been answered in the heavens and all one must do is wait for the manifestation in the physical.  I have witnessed physical manifestations in others who have been prayed for.  Answering prayers in this physical manner is one of the ways that God shares with us that He heard our prayers.

Afterward, my friend drove me home. I then waited for the destructive winds of Superstorm Sandy to come. For many, Hurricane Storm Sandy caused widespread electricity outages for days and weeks in some places. It was the most destructive, and strongest hurricane of the 2012 season, inflicting $70 billion in damages. Now all I could do was wait the storm out and stand strong in my faith and hope.  God would remind me, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

“You are responsible to be faithful. God is responsible for outcomes.” –
Quote by Jenni Catron 

God’s Voice is Guaranteed

God speaks in various ways; all we need to do is listen because His voice is guaranteed. It can be an audible voice, a small still voice, dreams and visions, natural manifestations, circumstances, or in my case, God spoke specifically to me through the Bible, by randomly bringing a particular passage to my attention because His Word is living and active. “For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, like a two-mouthed sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts” (Heb. 4:12). It was how God chose to reaffirm that I had been miraculously healed.

After Storm Sandy passed, I went outside to look at the devastation to my property and found five “trees uprooted,” one of which was my favorite, a weeping willow tree.  I wept for it as it lay on its side. No longer would birds perch in it nor would it grace my property with its long slender branches that reached towards the ground. Depression overcame me like a ton of bricks hit me.

Returning indoors, I sat down and randomly opened my Bible directly to a passage in Job, chapter 19 verse 10, that said “He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, and he UPROOTED MY HOPE LIKE A TREE”. WOW!, that got my attention in a big way! I don’t believe that this was coincidental. A day later, again I randomly opened my Bible directly to a passage in Isaiah 58:11 that said … “and the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and GIVE STRENGTH TO YOUR BONES”. This was the second attention grabber. Several days later, again, God showed me Proverbs 3:5-6 which said “trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.” If you continue reading on in Proverbs 3 verses 7 and 8, it says “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your BONES.” Although the word bones got my attention again in this verse, I don’t believe God was only speaking to me here of physical healing. Verse 8 speaks of healing the body. The Hebrew translation for the body is the navel.  Adam Clarke’s commentary speaks of the umbilical cord (of which the navel is part) as the only source of life and growth for the unborn child. So also, is the wisdom that comes from God, the only umbilical source of life and growth for His children.

Some weeks later I returned to the passage in Isaiah 58:11.  It was not a coincidence that God wanted me to read it again. I recalled it was that which my pastor prayed for me. It not only spoke of physical healing but of spiritual awakening and healing.  “And you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of waters whose waters do not fail.”  A watered garden denotes continued prosperity and blessedness. Fruit is only desirable if it is sufficiently watered, otherwise, it withers and dies, and the fruit cannot be eaten. It is therefore God’s desire for me (us) to be “like a spring of water whose waters do not fail”.  It is not only a promise of eternal life, but of something living in me now (and forever), and that is God’s living water.  As a spring gushes up from the ground, so shall my life be a fountain of inspiration, encouragement, and blessing to others; an unending spring of “living water” that is refreshment and satisfying.

What’s the Verdict, Doc?

When I finally returned to see the doctor more than a week after Storm Sandy, he took a set of X-rays. “So, what’s the verdict, Doc?”  “It is remarkable!” he exclaimed. But I could tell he had reservations and was completely ignoring God’s healing miracle. “Let’s wait and see.”  He was understandably cautious. Apparently, he didn’t trust that the wrist was healed and wanted to see me again just to make sure, or, had he released me too soon he could have been liable for malpractice if he was wrong. After all, what would you have done if you were the doctor?  Would you walk away scratching your head, or would you trust your years of experience as a surgeon?  Never had he seen anything like this before. Yet, out of caution, he still wanted to see me again and then once more before placing me in a hard cast. As he explained, even after reduction (which is the repositioning of bones after a fracture) and immobilization with a cast or splint, your bones can shift and will not heal properly. He wanted to continue monitoring my progress with X-rays.

Before leaving his office, he gave me final instructions for the care of my wrist, “and don’t drive,” he said.  “But Doc, I am conducting a flute exhibit in Ohio that I must attend.”  “No, driving! he emphatically stated. “Do you hear me?” “Uh-huh,” I replied.

There was no way I was going to back out of my commitment. So, I arranged for another flutist to accompany me to the event with the understanding that she would be the featured artist on the program. So with one arm in a sling and the other on the steering wheel, I drove one-armed for 9 hours to the event in Ohio.  I would be chided by the doctor for disobeying his instructions when I returned for my next visit.   

After I returned from my trip, the doctor put me in a cast. “What color do you want?” he asked. “Blue,” I said sounding disappointed.  “This is standard procedure,” he said.  “You can expect to wear it for approximately 6 to 8 weeks with a recovery period of up to 3 months for a person your age.”  “Although everything looks fine from the X-rays, it still may be fragile. I want to ensure that your wrist is completely healed.”  I was disappointed I didn’t get a thumbs up from him and that I would still need to see him again. Yet I knew that I knew that God had miraculously healed me. 

Next visit, the doctor seemed genuinely perplexed. My wrist looked good as new. There was no denying it this time and no indication that I had ever broken it. “It is remarkable; SIMPLY AMAZING!” “How would you like to take this thing off?”  “SURE!”, I replied, equally surprised, as initially, he said I would be in it for 6 to 8 weeks. “Do you believe in miracles, Doc?”  He answered back with a big “AMEN!” 

And remarkably, it was one week later that I played a concert with members of the NJ Flute Society.  Another miracle attesting to God’s divine intervention.

Coincidence, stranger than fiction, or divinely orchestrated? What do you think?

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel
Last Updated: January 2023

Hope Dealer

Love this! What amazing talent, and what an amazing song and video. Song written and performed by Jess Hutzel Gillott and her husband Pete Gillott

HOPE DEALER · Pete & Jess Gillott HOPE DEALER ℗ 1868536 Records DK Released on: 2021-03-09

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https://www.facebook.com/100001258335458/videos/9863746710343842/

YOUTUBE SONG

PHOTOS

OTHER SONGS BY PETE & JESS GILLOTT

GOD WE PRAY

Angels All Around Us

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.  (Revelation 5:11)

In October 2017, I attended Awaken the Dawn on the National Mall in Washington DC. This was a grassroots movement of 24/7 day and night praise and worship, and intercessory prayer to bring a new awakening of the presence of God to the nations.  Was this the next big Jesus Movement?  Tens of thousands of people and 1,700 worship teams from all fifty states would be in attendance for the weekend-long event as well as over 4 million people live streaming from around the globe. The Awaken the Dawn movement was referred to as a Jesus Woodstock for a New Generation. 

Although it was cloudy and cool in the 60s, the weather held out despite the forecast of rain. It was the last evening of Awaken the Dawn. It was the closing ceremony. The night was filled with the sounds of praise and worship, singing and dancing. There was excitement in the air as the crowd cried out for the glory of God.

Although angels are not normally seen with our physical eyes, they do have the ability to manipulate the surroundings all around us.  At first, I did not know that what I was seeing was real but thought it was my imagination (Acts 12:9).  But I could just feel them!  It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. The atmosphere felt electrically charged, and although I did not physically see them, I was keenly aware of their presence through my thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.  They seemed to come out of nowhere.

Peggy and I were facing the Capitol Building when, suddenly, I felt a strong presence in front and behind, and to my left and right.  Tens of thousands, too numerous to count, filled the sky. Hovering over the capitol building they stood like sentinels at their guard posts keeping watch over the event. There were those also who sat in the trees to my right, worshiping and singing their praises to God. And through the eye lenses of my heart, I envisioned their appearances to be in the form of man, many had wings, and some were larger than life. Just as in Psalm 91:11, God had sent angels with special orders to protect, defend, and guard us against all harm.

I suddenly began to weep. A soft, steady stream of tears began to flow from the corners of my eyes. I was so embarrassed that I looked down to stop crying. Did anyone see me?  Although I did not physically see physical beings with my eyes, my spiritual eyes told me there were tens of thousands of angels all around.  Each time I looked up I would begin to cry. The tears flooded my eyes every time I looked up at the Angelic Host. Angels were all around us.   

Copyright 2022 by Bill Hutzel

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Search Me O God (Remix)

I had just become unemployed following the attack of 9/11 and was understandably anxious, desperately wanting to make sense of both the war on our country and wanting to find gainful employment again. And so, I became very introspective when things turned topsy-turvy on me. I randomly opened my Bible to Psalm 139 and the following verse jumped off the page at me. “Search me O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts”. It became my meditation. As I continued to meditate on this psalm, my prayer turned to asking God to guide me and extend His hand to me. My prayer turned into singing, and “the praise on my lips and the song in my heart” became a song that ran through my head to the words of the psalm. I jotted down the melody so as not to forget it. I later recorded it in October 2013.

This is a newly published REMIX of the song. 

CREDITS

Song by Bill Hutzel

Musicians:
Bill Hutzel, vocals and flute
John D’Elia, 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, bass guitar, mandolin, tambourine

Recorded and produced by John D’Elia
Such Clay Productions
September 18, 2013

Video Produced by Bill Hutzel

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Pick Me Up and Turn Me Around

YOUTUBE “Pick Me Up” by Bill Hutzel and John D’Elia

So often we fancy ourselves as secure and think we can go it all alone, but when God hides His face from us because we choose to go it on our own, our soul cries out to Him. “Lord, help me! Rescue me!” PICK ME UP AND TURN ME AROUND  (Psalm 107).

In Psalm 30 we see that David had a propensity for going it on his own for he said: “When all was well with me, I said, I will never be moved”.  And then in verses 7-11, it says that David asked for God’s mercy as he was shaken because God turned his face from him.  

Isaiah 53:6 says that each of us (and I will repeat for emphasis “each of us”) like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to go his own way. Each of us has left God’s paths to follow our own. King David cried aloud to God for His mercy.  Is this your prayer to set the captive free and shatter the steel doors of your heart that have kept you captive and have held you back from receiving God’s safety and abundance.

And He did!” it says of David in Psalm 107:13-14. God’s constant love picks us up and turns us around! He picks us up so that we are no longer bound in affliction, nor a prisoner to our own pain or chained to our regrets. God humbles us through our circumstances, watching as we stumble, with no one there to pick us back up.  And so, I cried out to God and repented of my rebellion against His Word; for seeking the counsel of man over His wisdom; for wandering about with no true direction, filled with despair; bringing myself sorrow and suffering because of my sins. And He turned my mourning into dancing and established my feet with joy on His firm foundation again. He shined his light through my darkness and set my captive free.

Remember with thankfulness all the times God brought you deliverance. Here’s why.
“He’s better than anyone could ever imagine.
Yes, He’s always so loving and kind, and it never ends!
So, go ahead— let everyone know it!
Tell the world how He broke through 
And delivered you from the power of darkness and
Has gathered us together from all over the world.
He has set us free to be His very own!”
(Psalm 107:1-3 TPT)

God’s mercy endures forever. For those who cry out to the Lord in their trouble, He answers them. He saves them out of their distresses and sets them free. When we cry out to God, He mercifully answers us because He loves us so. “This is comfort to the greatest sinners; if they can but find a praying heart, God will find a pitying heart, and rebels shall be received with all sweetness, if at length they return, though brought in by the cross.” (Trapp)

So go ahead and lift your hands and give thanks to God for his marvelous kindness
and for his miracles of mercy for those he loves!
” (Psalm 107:15)

Prayer: For your glorious righteousness reaches up to the high heavens; No no one could ever be compared to you! Who is your equal, O God of marvels and wonders? And though you have allowed me to experience much trouble and distress, revive me once again! Oh, I’ve been going it on my own, now it’s time for me to come home. Help me get my feet back on the ground. Bring me up once again from the depths of the earth! May you give me even more greatness than before and turn and comfort me again. Pick me up and turn me around. (Psalm 71:19-21, paraphrase).

Copyright 2022 by Bill Hutzel

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