Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me; suddenly the Lord whom you are seeking will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming, says the Lord of heavenly forces. Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap… Malachi 3:1-2
As I reflect on this Malachi text this morning, a tar kettle is smoking and spitting out the necessary material to repair the library’s roof. The smell is awful… unless you are the sort of person who likes the smell of hot tar. The kettle makes the tar, the tar goes into the cauldron, the cauldron goes into the lift, and it all gets spread on fresh plywood at the top of the library. Beep beep beep as trucks back up; the rumbling roar of idling diesel engines; scaffolding clanging into place… this is noisy, messy work.
The image of the Lord’s messenger preparing the way in Malachi is an image with joy. It’s a “delightful” happening. Yet it will also be too much to handle… too much to see without preparation. The encounter with God transforms us, burning away all artifice and scrubbing clean the real image of God beneath.
All growth hurts. Healing can be painful, too. Yet the messenger is coming again, preparing the way once more, and inviting us into true, abundant life with God. This is a great week for the discipline of silent prayer, of opening yourself up fully to the Holy Spirit and allowing the necessary holy refining to take place. We can pray with David in Psalm 51 “Have mercy on me, O God… wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Grace and Peace,