A voice of one calling: "In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God!"
I'm excited about the upcoming release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. One of the reasons I'm attracted to such stories is that I love adventure…or at least the idea of adventure. For many of us, our lives seem tired and predictable. We long to put on armor, take up a sword, and set out on a quest. What we fail to realize is that this is exactly what the Christian life is…and the quest begins at Advent.
From the prophet Isaiah and on through generations, John the Baptizer picks up the call to adventure: “The King is coming to expand his kingdom into the barren wilderness of your lives. Get ready!”
And so the quest begins…the quest to ready our inner and outer world for the coming King.
We come to The Shadow Valley. It is deep and lonely. The sun rises late and sets early. It is easy to despair here, to give up on the best and settle for whatever we can get our groping hands on. But the call is for the Valley to be filled. And what do we fill it with? Hope. As the Valley is filled with hope we move from darkness to light. No longer settling for just anything, we hold out for the best of things. The light begins to show us that there is something more…the King will bring it.
Next we move to Eye Mountain. It is cool and sunny and from the summit we can see for miles. We see all kinds of possibilities, good and bad. We begin to calculate all we could possess. We begin to fear the obstacles we see. We begin to look for higher mountains so we can see more. But the call is for the mountains to be brought low. And what will bring those mountains down? Humility. As the mountains are leveled by humility we move from sight to faith. No longer distracted by all of life’s good and bad potentialities, by greener pastures and higher peaks, we focus on the path before us. Walking by faith allows for whatever might lie on the path, meeting what comes our way…the King will command it.
Then we come to The Crooked Road. We are going one way, then we are going another. The path becomes rocky so we think we might head off in a new direction, on a new path altogether. Perhaps this new path is the quest we should’ve been on all along. But the call comes to make the crooked path straight and the rough way smooth. And what can straighten and smooth this road? Holiness. Not a vain attempt at following a list of do’s and don’ts, but a focus, a movement from wandering to direction. No longer looking for easier paths and different quests, we dig in with determination to continue on the journey of our lives. The straight, directed path allows us to make progress into the deeper country of our quest…the King will guide it.