Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord
I was a high school senior in 1974 and our church youth group was obsessed with the Broadway show Godspell, a then hip, countercultural take on Jesus and disciples. The movie had been released in 1973 and we knew each and every song by heart. During Advent that year our very brave pastor gave us permission to lead the second Sunday in Advent church service.
The service began in silence and darkness. One by one members with good singing voices (I not among them!) stood up amongst the pews and sang out “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord" then moved onto the stage. I humbly took my place in the less gifted "chorus" who helped (quietly) with the song’s finish.
Once the song ended, we shared with the congregation what it meant for us to prepare our hearts for the Lord. It was one of those days I will never forget; it fills me with joy to this day. I still marvel at the honor that John the Baptist was given by God. God gifted him extraordinarily. Not only did John proclaim the coming of the Lord (Mark 1:3), but also Jesus’ arrival as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Heady stuff for a prophet; John possessed the simple granite faith that Jesus was in truth God’s sole Son, the only way to relationship with the Father.
Advent is a time for me to humble myself and clean out the things that I have allowed to clutter the way of Jesus in my heart. Sure, Andy and I have endured our share of sorrow and pain, but God has blessed us more than afflicted us. Our kids are grown and love the Lord; we have amazing grandchildren to enjoy. We have “survived” 40 years of difficult ministry and see the fruit of Desert Stream around the world. We are privileged to work among God-‘picked’ staff and leaders who join us in equipping others, through the mercy of God, to pursue the radical wholeness He offers His sons and daughters.
Maybe I am too blessed. I can be tempted to become self-satisfied and settled in my relationship with God. I know how to pray pretty well, have a good grasp of Scripture, and can become smug in my gifts and knowledge. This year, more than ever, I enter Advent aware of a certain complacency. But God warns me of false contentment: “You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to Me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say!" (Isaiah 32:9)
God is calling me to have a heart like John the Baptist. He is challenging me to live as to point others to Christ: not judging them but imploring them, with compassion, to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20)! I want to rid my heart of anything that keeps me from preparing the way for them to know the Father as Jesus knows Him. Like John, I want to become less so that Jesus can become more.