3John the Baptist went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’
I want the prophecy of Isaiah to be fulfilled now. I want paths to be made “straight”. I want the bumps in the road to be leveled. I want the crooked ways “made straight,” and the “rough ways made smooth.” I want “all flesh to see” the wholeness of God manifest in time and space today.
I am tired of this messy, confusing, conflicted process of life. I want a few straight lines, a few smooth roads, a few landscapes where the vision is clear and the way forward uncomplicated and without conflict.
But, I know, no matter how compelling John’s preaching may have been, nor how powerful the presence and work of Jesus, we are still waiting.
We continue to walk along crooked ways. There are many painful bumps in the road and incomprehensible twists and turns ahead. Nothing is smooth. The wholeness of God is a reality of which I catch the briefest glimpse in moments of clarity and light.
I need again and again to submit to John’s “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” I need to surrender to the waters of grace in the midst of the wilderness and let go of my determination that life should give me what I want.
The discipline of reality is learning to live with incompleteness.
Life was not designed to bring me comfort and peace. It was designed to drive me to a deeper place, in order that I might discover resources that come to me in the one for whom John prepares the way.
What aspects of my life and the world around me do I find it difficult to accept?
How does my attitude to these painful circumstances change if I begin to view them as signposts to a deeper place of light, strength, and peace within?