Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, September 2

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
—Matthew 11: 2-3

A new month begins, a month that, at least for me, evokes endings and beginnings. No matter what the temperature is outside, the playfulness of summer is over and the more serious business of fall takes its place. And no matter what stage of life you are in, this transition contains regret as well as promise. I can still remember what it felt like for school to begin: I had to give up lazy mornings and wearing shorts all day for early mornings and school clothes. I always wondered then, as I do now: what lies ahead?

This gospel passage reminds me how human it is to have expectations, anticipations. John the Baptist is in prison for standing up to Herod, ruler of Galilee. John’s ministry, about to end with his untimely execution, has been filled with expectation, anticipation: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” he cried out in the wilderness.

Just as we don’t know what lies ahead of us, neither did John the Baptist. Anticipation is a strange thing: it creates its own expectations. I anticipate a good new beginning at school or at work, so I expect certain things. When my expectations are thwarted or overturned, I feel angry and disappointed. 

Surely John the Baptist was surprised when his anticipated Messiah turned out to be a peasant from Galilee. No robes, no weapons, no visible power at all. Just look around, Jesus told John. You may not see what you expected, but here is what you’ll notice: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. In other words, new life!

What a wonderful perspective this gives us as we begin a new month: Instead of clinging to our expectations, we can ask for the wisdom to see the world as God sees it, and than to notice new life and new hope in our world. 

Gracious God, help me to so tune my will to your will that I may make new beginnings in quiet confidence and trust. Amen.

The Signposts for September are written by Margaret Jones and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2005.