…”a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:3-4)
John the Baptist came preaching a simple message: “Prepare!”
We prepare for lots of things in our lives. We prepare for house guests, trips, college, retirement, surgery and musical performances. We even prepare for things we can’t calculate. One of my favorite sayings is, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and pray you’ll end up somewhere in-between.”
But nothing can match the level of preparation required for the presence of the Lord Jesus, our King.
Near the church where I minister, in Jamestown, Virginia, some preparations were under way a few years ago for a visit from Queen Elizabeth II. Her visit was especially meaningful since she had been in Jamestown 50 years earlier for the 350th anniversary of the first English colony. She was coming again for the 400th. Lots of projects were undertaken to transform the site, and when the Queen arrived she followed a carefully orchestrated plan.
Still, this was nothing compared to the arrival of the King of Kings.
John the Baptist’s audience was asked to prepare the way for the Lord and make His paths straight. But the paths they were straightening weren’t made of dirt. Rather, they were human hearts, burdened down with sin and in desperate need of transformation.
How do we “make straight paths” for the Lord? I believe we do it by removing every obstacle we can find that might keep him from entering our hearts, or the hearts of others. And many of these obstacles are composed of sin.
Like rocky residue, overgrown thorns and suspicious characters, sin looms and lurks in our hearts, seeking to blind us to the things Jesus wants to do in our lives.
What can we do about it?
We can repent. John baptized people with a baptism of repentance as they came confessing their sins. Why would people come out to the desert in droves to confess their sins and be baptized as a sign of repentance? They came because they desperately wanted to be ready. They didn’t want anything to keep them from being in the right place and the right state when the King arrived.
I am convinced even those who have met the King need to work at the pathway to their hearts. Jesus wants to move in our lives, and He needs us to participate by removing things that get in the way of what He wants to do.
Is there anything you need to remove from the pathway to your heart today?
Dear God, help me make Your paths straight. In Jesus’ name, Amen.