Verna Linzey, along with her 5-year-old son Jimmy, did not merely see an angel. She spoke with one.
It was an ordinary day and a familiar drive. I was in the very back of Mother's 1959 Dodge Sierra station wagon observing the familiar sights we routinely passed when we headed toward Naval Air Station Charleston. I was 5 years old, and my favorite pastime was pointing out the make and model of the other cars on the road. I had been enthralled by automobiles since I was 3 and could identify Cadillacs, Fords, Chevrolets, Volkswagens and other cars. I was even more fascinated when traffic came to a halt as we watched the Wappoo Creek Bridge draw up so that the large boats could pass under the bridge.
My mother, Assemblies of God evangelist Verna M. Linzey, enjoyed taking time out of her busy schedule to fellowship with fellow Navy officers' wives as part of her "ministry of presence" on the base. My father, first-ever Assemblies of God Active Duty Navy Chaplain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., was stationed on the USS Holland, which was homeported at Charleston. Mother was on the Navy Wives Bowling League and had won a trophy for being an outstanding bowler.
I knew the drill. We would enter the bowling alley on base, and Mother would purchase a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut for me, which cost 10 cents at that time. Then I would sit and watch her bowl with the Navy wives while I enjoyed my doughnut.
I was looking forward to my doughnut on that mild, sunny day in October 1963. Then a short while after crossing the Wappoo Creek Bridge, we came to the railroad tracks before an intersection, and the light turned red. The cars ahead of us did not cross the intersection, and we had to come to an abrupt stop on the railroad tracks.
It seemed like an eternity that we waited for the green signal so that we could get off the tracks, but finally the light turned green. Then just as the car in front of us accelerated, the railroad lights started blinking, and the bells began ringing. Mother pressed on the gas pedal, but the front tires were stuck on the railroad tracks. The car would not accelerate. The train was quite a distance away, but it was coming quickly. Mother kept pressing the accelerator pedal while praying, but the car would not budge. We were stranded on the tracks.
I was in the far back of the station wagon, which was off the tracks, and Mother knew there was no time to get me out of the back of the car. She figured that I would survive if the train hit the car. So praying all the while, she threw open the door and jumped out of the car so that she, too, could survive.
Suddenly, an angel appeared, taking on the appearance of a man, and told her to get back in the car and floor the gas pedal, and "don't let off." She risked her life for me, rushed back inside the car and floored the gas pedal, with her heart pounding and the palms of her hands and forehead perspiring. Then the tires screeched and the car abruptly jumped off the railroad tracks to safety just before the train crossed the street. The angel was in a wide-open area for all to see. The short train sped by in seconds. After the train cleared the street, the angel was nowhere to be found. There was no time for an ordinary human being to leave the area so quickly. We had never seen him before, nor did we ever see him again. But I'll never forget the day when my life was saved by an angel.
Not only did the angel come to us in our time of need, but my mother's unhesitating obedience to what the angel told her to do saved both of our lives.
Looking back, I think about what would have happened had I been killed. How deeply would this have impacted the lives of people to whom I would not have ministered as a military chaplain and as a civilian minister? And what about the lives of those who would never have been spiritually impacted by the Modern English Version Bible, which I edited?
God had plans for my life. He gave me a mother who risked her life for me, and He sent an angel to intervene that day so that His purpose for me would be fulfilled.
My mother experienced the supernatural on numerous occasions because she abided by all the precepts in the Word of God. Here are three of the precepts she often talked about, which can get you on the road to experiencing the supernatural:
- Devote your life to spiritual living. Devoting oneself to spiritual living is a life of discipline in the spiritual, mental, and physical realms. This requires a change of habits if you are accustomed to living by the comforts of this world. It requires that you swim upstream and against the flow of others who prefer their ways rather than God's, and that you submerse yourself in prayer and much reading of God's Word on a daily basis.
Paul the apostle instructed early believers accordingly: "I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2). As Christians, we have committed ourselves to live according to holy Scripture. Therein lies our salvation and the invitation to experience the supernatural.
- Obey God. Obedience to God's voice in your life never contradicts Scripture and includes obeying Scripture itself. The voice of God is supplemental to the Word of God. The voice of God is self-authenticating. Only you can authenticate the voice of God in your life. Other individuals can agree or disagree that you heard from God, but they could be wrong. Only you can authenticate God's voice in your life. If you are devoted to spiritual living, you will be able to hear God's voice. Do not let anyone steer you away from what only you can authenticate. Obey God's voice and His Word, and then God will trust you with revelations of the supernatural and experiences in the supernatural.
God commanded Israel: "It will be, if you will diligently obey My commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain of your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil" (Deut. 11:13-14). This command, which is found in the Ten Commandments, applies to everyone. However, the accompanying blessing literally applied to Israel, but it may also apply either figuratively or literally to everyone else. The principle here is that God always blesses those who obey Him. So, obey the voice of God in your life and in His Word, and faith will be released to experience the supernatural.
- Avoid the flesh nature. Experiencing the supernatural requires walking a narrow road. While the pleasures of life focus on things pleasing to the flesh, some Christians, including some pastors, prefer to talk about the "feel-good gospel." Scripture focuses on both the blessings of God and what we must abstain from to experience the supernatural.
Paul the apostle warned us, "Now the works of the flesh are revealed, which are these: adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I previously warned you, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21).
If you want to experience supernatural events in your life, there are things you must do and things you must not do. I experience the supernatural routinely in my life, as Mother did, and you can too by doing these three things: devote yourself to spiritual living, obey God and avoid the flesh nature.
James F. Linzey studied church growth under C. Peter Wagner and signs and wonders under John Wimber at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the chief editor of the Modern English Version Bible and is a retired Army chaplain with the rank of major.
Verna M. Linzey was a Charisma Media author of The Gifts of the Spirit. She went through the D.Min. program at Fuller Theological Seminary, was an Assemblies of God evangelist and was on the Modern English Version translation committee. She also matriculated in biblical languages at Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
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