3 A voice is crying out:
“Clear the Lord’s way in the desert!
Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
4 Every valley will be raised up,
and every mountain and hill will be flattened.
Uneven ground will become level,
and rough terrain a valley plain.
5 The Lord’s glory will appear,
and all humanity will see it together;
the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.”
I love everything about new pavement. I love the way it smells and the way it feels when you’re driving on it. I even love that weird squeaking sound it makes when you turn your wheels on a freshly paved parking lot. To me, it’s a lot like the promise of a blank writing pad, or a freshly painted wall, or a new pair of shoes. It feels like new possibilities.
This promise of a level highway where mountains are brought low, gaps filled in, and rough places smoothed out, is typically associated with John the Baptist’s proclamation in the wilderness. It’s a promise full of hope and expectation, except… it doesn’t reflect real life.
The roads we encounter in real life look more like the New Jersey Turnpike in March… pitted, cracked, and with holes that threaten to swallow a Prius.
God never promised that any of us would travel a perfectly smooth, freshly-paved road on our path to heaven. What God did promise is this: when that road finally is opened, we will all see it together. Not the rich first, those with the nice cars and money to pay the tolls, not the nations with lots of resources to level the mountains and fill in the valleys… but all people will see the glory of the Lord together.
This was the beginning of the good news, when the Savior of the whole world was born in Bethlehem. He was celebrated by shepherds and wise men, rich and poor alike. This was not because he immediately promised a smooth road ahead, but rather because all humanity saw in him a glimpse of what could be, and it felt like new possibilities.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
What are some everyday objects or experiences that fill you with the sense that something new is possible? Be on the look for them today, and when you find one, pause and offer a word of thanksgiving to God.
Prayer: God of new possibilities, we know we can’t expect our lives to always be perfect. We know that the roads we travel can’t always be smooth. Still, we turn to your Son Jesus, knowing that in him are hopes for a brighter future not only for us, but for all people. Amen.