For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: “A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!”
—Matthew 3:3 (HCSB)
I love this Scripture. I love the echoes we hear in these words—echoes of a long line of prophets, particularly of Elijah in whose spirit John comes. These voices prepare the people for the coming Messiah, finally culminating in John the Baptist, who prepares the world for the Christ in His presence, even baptizing Him in obedience to God’s Word.
When we look back at the “who” and “how” of our own salvation, many people and circumstances prepared the way for us to know and understand Christ’s love and gracious gift of forgiveness. Looking at our past through the eyes of faith, we recognize God’s hand where we couldn’t see Him in the moment.
We start to tie together seemingly unrelated events and circumstances into the tapestry of our testimony. We see how our faith doesn’t stand on its own but on the obedience of so many saints who have gone before us—those who established the churches, ministries, and hearts that God provided so we could know Him.
We also see the call of obedience in our lives, the call to prepare the way for those that go after us. Most of this preparation is done in seemingly insignificant ways, in small acts of obedience.
You see, following Christ is less about these mountaintop moments as it is obedience in the little mundane daily details. Following Christ involves 10,000 little steps every day, each step toward or away from Jesus, each step seemingly insignificant on its own. But after days and weeks and years of obedience we’re such different people with hearts that overflow with His love and grace.
This preparation is a somewhat like training for a sport. No single exercise or drill prepares you completely for the game, but repeatedly doing these varied drills over and over and over prepares your body and your mind, so that, in the moment, in the game, your preparation carries you through your circumstance.
Your heart is the same way, except the Spirit works on your heart to transform you as you walk in faith. You see, no single act of obedience—reading your Bible, praying, repenting, visiting the sick and those in prison, worshiping with your fellow believers – seems to make a big difference in and of itself.
But in the crucial moments of life (and we never know which ones are), what’s prepared in your heart will come out from you and through you.
- Who prepared the way for you? Thank God for them. Literally—right now—thank God for them.
- If they’re still here with us, contact them. Write a letter, send an e-mail, call them. Your words will encourage and bless them in ways you can’t imagine. Remember them and don’t forget.
- Who are you preparing the way for?
- Are you living in obedience, prepared for God’s call when it comes? If not, repent, get ready, be ready for His call. As Fredrick Beuchner says in Listen to Your Life: “…in the end all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Prepare the way.