Make His Paths Straight
And the prophet Isaish said:
1A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And John the Baptist said:
1In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ”
And the prophets came and “they were truth-tellers of the present.” They did not come to be dooms-dayers and predictors of the future. They were “truth-tellers of the present.”
Elijah talked about what was needed in his day. He told the truth about a ruler who would come with the spirit of the Lord. John the Baptist came from the wilderness; came from a harsh life to speak the truth to the people of his day and time, and he said “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Being a prophet, a “truth teller of the present” always results in some struggles and some times some pain. But we don’t grow if we don’t listen to the prophets of our time, the prophets of our lives. Peace never comes without some real struggle and some real pain.
In one of the sermon blogs I read this past week Whitney Rice told a story about the Biodome that comes from the 1990’s. Don’t know if you remember the Biodome it “was an effort to create a totally self-contained biological environment, a mini-Earth sealed away from the outside world. Some of it was successful, but one of the most baffling disappointments was the trees. They had the sunlight and water and nutrients they needed, but as they grew, they couldn’t stand up straight. They flopped over on the ground, weak and limp.
The scientists finally realized one vital ingredient of the outside world they had forgotten: wind.
In nature, the wind blows and causes tiny micro-cracks in the trunk and branches of trees. Trees rely on this trauma for their growth. Standing straight to the wind, breaking a little but rebuilding at the same time, is what helps them grow stronger.
Did you ever think that you might need the fierce storms of your life? That they might be as pivotal to your growth as the good days of sunshine?”
In order for any of us to have peace, we need to first experience the storms of life, we need to repent we need to stand with faces into the wind so that we might grow.
On the property that Betsy and I owned in Door County, we had some trees and some had to be cut down because of disease and old age. Every time a tree fell to the ground there was a stump. Removing stumps is expensive and I tried all kinds of things to destroy the stumps. Most didn’t work. Every fall and winter the stumps would be there beneath the snow, waiting for spring. Each spring there would be a little shoot that would spring forth from the cut down tree there would be new life. Isaiah said that from the ruins of the kingdom new life, a new beginning would emerge. But first the old kingdom would have to pass away.
1In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’
So when we repent, confess, listen to the truth, we prepare the way of the Lord. Repentance is the wind that makes the tree grow. Repentance is the wind that gives us the new beginnings. Isaiah and John the Baptist both use the image of trees to give us a glimpse of their vision for that new beginning. For Isaiah it is a shoot that grows from a dead stump. For John it is a tree that doesn’t bear fruit. That tree will be cut down.
The Rev Dr Jonanda Groenewald writes: It is our responsibility as Christians to bear the kingdom of God in the world. This pastor says:
Maybe the gentle touch of your hands is exactly what someone in pain needs to feel;
Maybe the brisk walk of your feet is exactly how God’s message can be spread quickly;
Maybe the kind words of your mouth is exactly what someone who feels confused needs to hear;
Maybe the availability of your listening ears is exactly what someone burdened by worries needs to experience;
Maybe the kindness of your heart is what will bring the lion and the lamb together in peace…
If God is calling you today to do anything – however big or small – go do it now, and in this way play a role in making His Kingdom come!