December 1, 2009

Dec. 1: Reaching for a messenger


By Ross Peterson-Veatch, associate academic dean and Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning director of curriculum and faculty development
SCRIPTURE: Malachi 3:1-4 (NRSV)
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Today’s passage speaks to me from a place of personal struggle. And yet even in the warning about enduring the messenger’s arrival, there is a kernel of hope.

As a young college graduate I had many questions about my life, and very few answers. Where would I live? What job would I have? Would I ever find the person who would be my spouse? Would I be blessed with children? Most often I felt obliged to answer these questions on my own, and I reached my arms out in front of me to grasp the best answers I could muster. In time, many uncertainties were settled, and since that forward-reaching grasp seemed to work as a way I could find answers to the most troubling questions, I kept it up – looking ahead to see what was there and reaching to grasp at the misty future.

In my professional life, reaching forward became a way for me to face uncertainties as well. Before I came to Goshen, I spent many years striving toward an image of what I imagined the “perfect career” should be. And while teaching and working as an administrator has clearly shaped who I am, I believed for a time that the choices I had made determined what was possible in my life. But while I was working day in and day out toward these logical career goals, I was becoming more and more miserable. I felt I could never get where I wanted to go, that every decision I made turned out wrong, that I was moving away from my goals rather than toward them. Even though I prayed daily for guidance and for God to send a messenger to give me hope, the messenger never seemed to appear.

What I didn’t realize was that God was working in me – refining me, purifying me, preparing me for a calling that went well beyond what I could see and into places I could only imagine. About three years ago, as I was looking ahead yet again, I saw an ad for my current job. That ad spoke to me – first in a small voice, and as I continued to read, in a voice that got louder and louder. I felt God’s messenger had finally spoken!

In the last three years, however, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that God’s messenger was there all along, refining me, purifying me and it was my unwillingness to let God “break into my life” that kept me from hearing that call. My hope in all this comes from the mature knowledge that the messenger is always arriving, and is always speaking, because God is always present – what’s required is that I open myself so that God’s refining and purifying love can do it’s work in me and through me.

Let it be so, Lord.


SCRIPTURE: Malachi 3:1-4 (NRSV)

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight – indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.



Comments (6)

  1. If this were facebook, I would press “like.” Since it’s not, I want to thank you for a wonderful reminder to attune to the messenger who is always with us, if we are willing to listen.

    Ann Hostetler December 1, 2009 |
  2. Dude! Beginning my day with your story was an awesome way to walk into the day, holding out my hands to see what I might grasp. Hopefully what I grasp will not be any Foucaultian panopticons, but joy, peace and deeper trust.
    Looking forward to seeing you in January:)

    Susan Adams December 1, 2009 |
  3. No greater joy than to be at peace regardng where you are in life.

    Emily Jantzi December 1, 2009 |
  4. This devotion really speaks to me right now. I have been looking for work since August and have begun to be discouraged. But I realize I have to have my heart and mind open to new opportunities. I will pray today for guidance in my job search and in life.

    Cathy Rospotynski December 1, 2009 |
  5. Thank you so much for sharing your experience & insight. Your words have really encouraged me in my current situation. Thank you for the reminder of hope and purpose in God and trusting that He is working things out in His own perfect timing. I will pray that I will allow myself to be open to his refining and his timing!

    Julie December 1, 2009 |
  6. I am brand new to your site and ran across it in a search for Advent e-devotionals. This message is providentially relevant to me at this very time! Thank you and may God’s peace continue to surround and strengthen you.

    Joni December 1, 2009 |