“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” ~~~Mark 1: 2-4,7-8
John the Baptist has always intrigued me. Here’s this guy, alone in the wilderness, living off the land and connected to God in ways we can only dream of. I connected to him immediately because, as a young man, my only two passions were God and the wilderness. I have always felt God’s calling strongest out in the mountains.
I remember one solo trip with my dog, Jazz. We were in the Dinky Lakes Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We were off trail, just wandering, focused on God and His creation. There was a stretch of time that God and Jazz and myself were One in Spirit, connected like never before. I was on top the mountain. As I came to look around me afterward, there were crystals everywhere, hundreds of them, laying on the earth around me. Were they there before my “One in Spirit” time? I don’t know. I don’t connect crystals with spirituality necessarily, except for the fact that they are an exceptional part of God’s creation, reminding us of His beauty. I didn’t take a single crystal from that mountain, considering it a sacred place.
The three years before that time were hard years. I had been laid bare and raw. But I feel God used those years to help me “Prepare A Way” for Him to enter into my being in a way that I could never doubt or forget.
John tells us to “Prepare A Way” – that we need to make a way for the Lord in the world, but it has to start inside ourselves first. Preparing a way for God’s peace and joy and love in our own hearts helps us to understand what we have and need to share with others to begin a “preparing of the way” in them. We are called to set ourselves “apart” from the world. That comes just by allowing the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. Imagine being “apart” from the world as much as John was. Would you eat grasshoppers and fight the bees and bears off for the honey? But people “flocked” to him to be baptized and to hear him speak. He even got to baptize Jesus. Wow! That’s got to be worth a few grasshoppers. John, what a guy!
Prayer for the Advent Day: Help me, O God, to be prepared for your light, and to share your gifts each and every moment. Amen.
Rick Z., United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz