The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 45: Messengers of God
Well, hi, friends. This week found me in some early celebrations of my upcoming fiftieth birthday. I’ve been connecting with little groups of friends in the lead-up to the big day in a way that is much quieter and more personal than my fortieth big bash, and I’m finding that this reflects perfectly where I am at today. I’m looking around at my life, taking more stock, finding myself truly grateful for where I am, for the good people and circumstances around me, and I’m open in a way I haven’t been before to wisdom about how to move forward in my next chapters. After a night in the city last weekend, a couple of friends and then later my husband, my grown kids and their people found ourselves at Tatte Bakery for breakfast and then for lunch. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it, it is so delicious and so beautiful, and I’ll link them for you in the show notes for sure. But it was connection with Francesca, who I *think* was the manager, that is really sticking with me today. And I say, “think” because Francesca never did give us her job title, but she did lavish delicious free desserts and lattes on us, along with a boat load of kindness and life-wisdom to the point that I was left wondering, “Was Francesca sent by God?”
It certainly wouldn’t be unheard of – there are lots of instances of messengers in the Bible, in both human and angelic form, and of course, Jesus Himself – each sent by God to deliver a message to a specific person or group at a particular time in history. The idea of messengers makes my heart so full because it reminds me that God really is in our details, that He is weaving a beautiful story that ties us all together, and that sometimes, He does intervene in a very personal and specific way. And this makes life seem kind of adventurous or like the best kind of story, doesn’t it?
Human messengers of God are called prophets. They are sent to warn and to guide God’s people, and there are lots of examples in the Bible, from Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Jonah, Zechariah, John the Baptist, and so many more. The Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ is ‘nabi’, which is taken from a root word which means ‘to bubble up.’ Gosh, don’t you love that!? Prophets are regular everyday humans like you and me, but they have a unique clarity of purpose – there’s something that comes from God that bubbles up from within them that they must declare to their given audience. It’s why they’re here. As God says in the Book of Deuteronomy regarding the first Biblical mention of a prophet,
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.”
Jesus came to deliver a message and then to live it out in a way that humans could see, experience, and record for the rest of us for all of time and He also fulfilled many of the messages of the prophets who came before Him. At the very start of His ministry, after His time in the desert, Jesus stood up in the synagogue.
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then He rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him, and He began by saying, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Oh friend, can you imagine what it was like to be in the room that day? It was the most important message we would ever hear: God with us.
But in addition to human messengers mentioned in the Bible, there are also the angelic variety – the word ‘angel’ literally means ‘messenger’, and I’m sure you are familiar with some of their work. The Angel Gabriel appears in both the Old and New Testaments, delivering important messages to Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary. Throughout the Bible, angels deliver practical help, protection, and messages between we humans and God. In the Book of Matthew, we hear that the guardian angels of children always see the Face of the Father in Heaven. And in the Book of Genesis, we see angels ascending and descending Jacob’s Ladder, which acted as a bridge between Heaven and Earth.
It could be easy to believe that the time of messengers from God has passed, that every instance of prophets and angels is contained neatly in the pages of a dusty Bible somewhere, but friend, I just don’t believe that’s so. God who loves us so personally and so lavishly longs to connect with us – as we are, where we are, so why wouldn’t He continue to send messengers to help make that connection with us? Maybe you’ve encountered a messenger from God in your life – I hope so, and if so, I would love for you to tell me about it.
So anyway, back to the bakery: Francesca is a few years ahead of me on life’s journey and her message was delivered amid her abundant generosity and kindness, which made a real impression on us that morning. It was my first indication that she may have been sent by God actually, it was so much goodness she gave us, very over the top and unexpected. The second was the weight of her presence. Francesca could not be discounted. I felt compelled to pay attention to her, and I wonder, have you ever come across a person like that? Anyway, when she heard it was my birthday, Francesca brought over a sweet note and three perfect desserts, then later came around with perfect oat-milk lattes and then, even though the restaurant was packed, she sat for a minute, looked in my eyes, and told me the secret of her joyful life, and it was this: prioritize your peace.
To accomplish this, Francesca does a few things. She works out every morning before work, like serious CrossFit workout. She stays off of social media completely. When she has visitors in her home, even her grown children, she insists that their phones go into a closed box so that she can be truly present with each person that’s in front of her. That’s awesome, right? And, she’s been both motivated and flexible about her career and vocation, letting her dreams move her forward but also, walking through doors as they open to her. Her name literally means ‘free one’, and though I don’t know her, like, at all, it does seem clear that Francesca really does live a simple, free, happy, and abundant life, the kind of life that I want to live. She’s steady. She’s a mentor. She knows herself and she’s building her life each day with discipline and joy, one choice at a time. Speaking with Francesca that day felt like a moment out of time, a moment to take in the wisdom and attention she offered as I turn the page on a new chapter of life. There was so much that was communicated in that short interaction, it felt unearthly somehow, and like a gift from God who loves me. Francesca delivered her message for sure.
As you look back on your life, do you believe you were ever visited by a messenger of God, the human or the angelic variety? What did that look like? What did you learn or receive or hear? And where did that encounter lead you next. Becoming aware of the messengers of God is one way we can draw close to Him and to begin to know just how incredibly and personally we are loved by God who is so much bigger than we can imagine. And along with that, the awareness that in your openness to God that you can be a messenger too, well, that is my heartfelt prayer for you today, friend. We are not alone, not even close.
Thanks so much for listening today. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. As we build this community together, I thank you for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing this podcast – that is all so appreciated, so thank you. Before we close, let’s pray together today.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
God, your love for us is so abundant that not only do you never leave us, but you send us messengers in the form of prophets and angels to help guide our way. In the Book of Hebrews, we are told that some of us have entertained angels without even knowing it, which is such a cool and real vision of how you are at work, and so Lord, help this knowledge to be at the forefront of our minds as we walk our roads, ever on the lookout for the wisdom and compassion that you long to share with us through your messengers. Open our hearts to receive them and to become them. We pray all of this in the name of Jesus, amen.
Well, thanks so much for listening today, friend, and I’ll see you next time.