For years I used to wonder why each Advent we had to get ready again for Jesus’ coming as though He hadn’t already come. How could we “prepare” for the coming of a God who already came to us in Jesus and did His great work among us? Over time, I grew to understand that each year when Advent came again, I was the one who needed a Messiah to enter my life in a new and different way than the year before.
So in that spirit, I prepared to ponder once more the ancient mystery and story embodied in Advent. But something surprising happened. For the first time, I heard the familiar words “Prepare the way of the Lord” in a very different way! It was unexpected and a little disconcerting. I didn’t hear the usual, “OK, Cheryl, you have to get yourself ready to receive Christ this year.” NO! I immediately heard it this way: “Go out, and get the world ready for His coming!” What? Me? I’m supposed to prepare the way for Him to enter the world again? It’s one thing to just prepare my own little nest, my own little life. But to prepare the world?--that seems BIG. Is that what the Spirit is really saying to me?
The familiar words ”every valley shall be filled in and every mountain made low” now sound like a challenge to me--a new invitation--to prepare His way into the world. I began to look around for mountains that obstruct His coming into the world--mountains of fear, of judgment, of despair. What mountains do I see around me where people are struggling to believe a Savior could come to them, or that there is any hope for them? Can I help to lower a mountain for someone around me? What valleys hide His presence, what lowlands obscure His Light? Can I help fill in someone’s valley of loneliness, or lethargy, or rejection? Someone deep in a valley or up against a mountain of negative energy cannot see the dawn of His Light. But I can help pave the way.
Like John the Baptist, WE are called to make a highway, not a little winding side street, but a HIGHWAY for God to come in fullness, with haste, in tender mercy to those in darkness. We can help God enter the suffering world right around us, so that He can “wipe away every tear.”
I’ve heard a new call this Advent to help clear mountains and fill valleys by my love and presence. And I wonder what you are hearing. How are you preparing His way?