Do you ever write little notes in the margins of a book? It is usually a quick note to remind you later that you want to get back to that thought, that reminder.
But those little doodles, notes are just that – little notes that are usually there for the lifetime of that book, never or almost never returned to again.
We have relegated our thoughts of the moment to the margins of that book. Sometimes when we go back and reread a section we wonder why we wrote what we wrote. It just doesn’t make sense anymore because we left them in the margins and never did anything with those thoughts.
Or we may someday in the future retrieve those little notes when it is convenient, when we need them for something.
Margins – I like them for it is a place where I can write down a thought before I forget it, and leave it there.
Leave my little doodles around the edges of the page. And that’s exactly what happens. I leave off my little thoughts to sit in the margins without ever or rarely returning to those pages.
But I know that if I should ever need to use them for something, they are there for my retrieval when I am ready to retrieve them.
Anything we don’t need for the moment gets set- aside in our margins. We leave it there until we need the use of those things. It is arm’s length stuff.
So when we leave God there, we leave Him there for our convenience.
Not that God can be left where we want him but in our minds we think we can get away with sleeping on the job of life and leave God at arm’s length in order to call on Him when it is convenient for us to do so.
In Malachi’s day, as a waiting people began to live out their lives , they fell prey to living a rather mundane existence. Just getting by each day, preoccupied with themselves and their own survival. They had replaced hope with cope. They had grown cynical towards God so had created for themselves an existence where God was no longer at the center of their lives but relegated to the margins of their lives.
God became a god of convenience. A god that they chose to call on only when they needed Him.
The psalmist in Psalm 115 describes what those kinds of gods look like as well as what happens to those who make them. Verse 8 says, Those who make them have become just like them, have become just like the gods they trust. Gods that can’t talk, can’t see, can’t hear, can’t smell, can’t utter a sound.
Made for our own selfish purposes.
Convenient. Just there for the taking when I need Him.
So Malachi, God’s messenger, creates a crisis in order to wake his people up to the glaring fact that they are about to miss the coming of the Messiah.
He continues with this crisis by showing them that their worship is shoddy ,sloppy, defiling worship (Malachi 2:6).
Where is God in your worship? He implies. Basically he is showing them that they were treating God as an afterthought.
In Malachi 1:12-13 God says to them You profane me when you say, ‘Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account.’ And when you say, ‘I’m bored-this doesn’t do anything for me.’
Their complaints about God were their indictment. They had placed God in the margins, at arms’ length, to be used at their own convenience.
Wake up. Where is God?
Instead of living on the edge, they placed God on their edges, the margins of their lives.
An arm’s length God, there for retrieval for such a time when needed.
Just like our little doodles set in the margins of our books, ready for future retrieval, if and when we need to use them.
Oh wow, if we stop and pause here, I bet God will show us how we also put Him aside in the margins of our lives, ready for retrieval at our own convenience.
Instead of waiting in expectation and hope, we live out our lives by just getting by.
Instead of living on the edge, we place God on our edges, in our margins.
So where is God in your life right now?