A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD: make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Call me dumb, but I have never before today noticed the placement of the colon in that oh so familiar scripture. It’s amazing that with a change of inflection, a verse you think you understand takes on a whole different nuance.
I used to think the first few words were simply setting the scene for John the Baptist who hung out in wild places and that’s all there was to it – the description of a scene for the more important announcement that was made next. While it still does set the scene for that announcement, this morning it set the scene for my heart. What I see today is that while you are in the wilderness, prepare the way for the LORD.
The wilderness is often what we refer to when we are in a hard season where there doesn’t seem to be much growth or movement. It doesn’t feel like we are flourishing and rather we feel in want. Thirsty for something refreshing to take away the drought or worse yet the pain. The wilderness often has a vast landscape and we most likely don’t know when we will reach the end of it. That place where we can see the waters flowing and the promises of God before us. John the Baptist is proclaiming something else. He is saying, though you are in the wilderness, you can be in it with expectation. Expect growth and know that your wandering and panting is laying down the pathway for God to take you to where He is leading. Expect great things.
I wake up two times a night now with my mom to reposition her for comfort and care. I’m already tired and it hasn’t been that long. I feel like I’ve just stepped into a new wilderness and refreshment and flourishing needs to be carefully thought through and stewarded lest I thirst to the point of despair. I’m in need of endurance because I don’t know how long this road will be. One thing I know for sure – God is here with me. He is showing up in the blooming of friendships just started. In the kindling surrounding our family where I am hoping will set a fire in the hearts of my boys. They are watching and participating and although I resisted this being part of their story, it is what it is and God doesn’t waste a thing. He is writing something new with them and He is writing what may or may not be a long ending to the story for my mom and I. Regardless of how it plays out, I know I need Him. I long for Him and I won’t travel this journey well without Him.
Where are you? That’s the question God asked Adam in the Garden where there was nothing but flourishing for a long while. The question is a good one to ask at the first of a year because it helps us determine where our hearts are and how we are seeing God and hearing His voice.
Where are you? I hope and pray where ever you are, you know He is near.