One winter long ago, a neighbour of our church phoned to complain that the church was not doing its share of clearing the sidewalks of snow. I had taken the phone call, so later after work, I went to see what had happened. As I saw it, the city had plowed the snow in heaps wherever there was a spot, and it did happen that a part of the sidewalk was blocked in front of her house. Prepared with a snow shovel, I began clearing the sidewalk all the way past her house. I really enjoyed the exercise and the fresh wintry air under the stars, so I turned the other way and cleared the newly fallen snow from the sidewalk all the way for a whole block to the subway station nearby. I expected that the people coming home from work would enjoy a cleared sidewalk!
I was pleased with my achievement. I drove home refreshed and joyful about the job that had probably gone unnoticed by many. But for that one night, the sidewalk became a long, easy way to walk on.
That incident caused me to think about this verse:
Isaiah 40:3 – A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God!” (NIV)
In the wilderness of this dark world, we need to prepare for the coming of the Lord to establish, among people in this world, His kingdom, which is not of this world and which is invisible to eyes blinded to the truth.
How do we begin? Taking the message of good news personally is a must: each of us examining our own stand before the things of God; opening our own heart and shovelling out all that is blocking Jesus from reigning there; making sure that we really want our heart and mind cleaned from sinful errors; giving our bad habits the eviction order; and praying for God’s grace to fill our heart.
Next, we need to make an easy, straight way for people to come to God, like I shovelled the path to the subway stop for people to walk home. It is important to live attractive lives with integrity and righteousness, without backbiting, quarrelling, or complaining. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus advised us to go the second mile (like shovelling more than we have to), to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us. He wants us to be light in a dark world, and to throw down salt to melt someone’s icy pathway to God.
When we begin to make straight the way for the Lord in this dry, meaningless desert, we open a highway for our God to bless us, as well as others. We will experience the joy of the Lord in our service for Him and in seeing others come to faith.
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, let’s make sure that we listen to God’s messengers who prepare us to receive God’s Son Jesus, and let us spread the good news of salvation and life eternal!
Prayer: Holy Father God, thank You for removing the obstacles that block our way to see the good news that is in the name of Your Son Jesus. Enter into our open hearts to dwell as our Lord and royal Redeemer forever. We are thankfully praying in Jesus’ name. Amen!
Kirsti Sipila Brantford, Ontario, Canada