weekly theme #2 Preparing The Way*
week containing the second Sunday of Advent
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” (Shakespeare – As You Like It) The life of John the Baptist would certainly bear evidence to that concept. John’s destiny was foretold before his birth, and his place on the stage confirmed. I think John’s introduction, preparation, and purpose were all unique, but the concept can also apply to me. I am called to my part in God’s story, a part designed for me, or me for it. My cooperation with the Director’s instructions can have broad and deep impact on many others in the story.
Twice Satan called for proof from Jesus that he was the Son of God. (Matthew 4) He challenged Jesus and showed doubt about Jesus’ position as Lord of creation. Then, in the third confrontation, Satan portrayed himself as the owner/ruler of all earth. He offered Jesus power on earth in exchange for Jesus worship to him, but Jesus did not lose his focus. He kept his eye on the way prepared by his Father, and he ignored the way prepared by the enemy.
Decades ago I heard a message about Isaiah 40:3 whose theme still remains with me. Between God and each human lies a path to salvation. The path is littered with memories, attitudes, excuses, and beliefs that hinder them from making progress toward redemption. My role is to add no new obstacles and remove as many obstacles already present as possible. I save no one, God does that, but I can help prepare the path.
Part of my preparation for preparing the way is to become instinctively prayerful. At this time in my life, I need visual cues (prayer lists) and audible reminders (an alarm on my phone) to prompt my prayers, but I desire to make praying an innate part of my living – like blinking or breathing. This opens me to the Holy Spirit working through me to speak wisely, live holy, and to sense what I am unable to sense on my own. I can be used to make the path exactly what a person needs in order to take their next step to Jesus.
I do not have the ability to woo a soul. I can manipulate superficially for a desired response, but heart change comes from the Lord. He must prepare and call the soul of the person. Consider the preparation for Jesus’ first coming:
- sacred scripture foretold his coming
- he was the creator of the creation he entered
- John the Baptist served as his advance man
- Angels appeared at his birth
Despite all that, he was not widely accepted as the Messiah. I should not beat myself up if not all those I try to “prepare” do not accept him. I may sow and water, but the Lord gives the increase.
*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections. I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used. It truly lives up to its title.