“Most of life is not lived in crisis — which is a good thing. Not many of us would be able to sustain a life of perpetual pain or loss or ecstasy or challenge. But crisis has this to say for it: In time of crisis everything, absolutely everything, is important and significant. Life itself is on the line. No word is casual, no action marginal. And almost always, God and our relationship with God is on the front page.
But during the humdrum times, when things are, as we tend to say, “normal,” our interest in God is crowded to the margins of our lives and we become preoccupied with ourselves. “Religion” during such times is trivialized into asking “God-questions” — calling God into question or complaining about him, treating the worship of God as a mere hobby or diversion, managing our personal affairs (such as marriage) for our own convenience and disregarding what God has to say about them, going about our usual activities as if God were not involved in such dailiness.
The prophecy of Malachi is made to order for just such conditions. Malachi creates a crisis at a time when we are unaware of crisis. He wakes us up to the crisis of God during the times when the only thing we are concerned with is us. He keeps us on our toes, listening to God, waiting in anticipation for God ready to respond to God, who is always coming to us.
Malachi gets in the last word of Holy Scripture in the Old Testament. The final sentences in his message to us evoke the gigantic figures of Moses and Elijah — Moses to keep us rooted in what God has done and said in the past, Elijah to keep us alert to what God will do in the days ahead. By leaving us in the company of mighty Moses and fiery Elijah, Malachi considerably reduces the danger of our trivializing matters of God and the soul.”
That’s the introduction to the Book of Malachi from The Message. When I read it, I knew I needed to share it just as it is written. What a statement! The line “…God is crowded to the margins of our lives and we become preoccupied with ourselves,” arrow to the heart. Do I crowd God out to the margins of my life because I’m so preoccupied with myself? Even when I come to Him each morning, am I really aware of who it is that I’m talking with? Or is my conversation with Him all about me and what I think I need from Him?
I’ve lived in crisis many times in my life and in those times I was extremely close to God, and my relationship with God is as the author says, “on the front page.” But right now my life is rather “normal” and I have to question, is God still on the front page or have I trivialized our relationship and made worship of Him my “hobby?” I can hardly write the statement without cringing. I don’t think I’ve done this but I am going to spend some time praying and soul-searching about it. Maybe you need to as well.
I’m thinking Malachi has a message for us all — that’s where I’ll be studying for a while, join me.