A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert
a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3 (NIV)
“Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). And so this Advent season begins, not with stars and shepherds and singing, but with the call to prepare. But what are we preparing for? Some of us know the story of the incarnation inside out. We’ve heard about the birth in the manger, the triumphant chorus of the angels, and the visit of the Magi from the East. So what are we supposed to prepare? . . . Us!
As the prophet Isaiah implored the people of centuries past to prepare their lives for the coming of the Saviour, so he entreats us in a like manner. He calls us to examine our hearts and thereby “prepare the way for the Lord.” In the midst of the wilderness of commercialism and consumerism, the prophet calls out to us to make a “highway for our God” – to put in order the road to our hearts.
This will only be possible if we nourish our hearts with prayer, and meditate on His Word. And we must clear the way by asking Him to remove the clutter of wrongdoing that we’ve gathered through sins of omission and commission. Let’s take an honest look within and ask Him to make the necessary changes and preparations for this month of celebration. And let’s enter the Advent season with the anticipation that God will shape us, mold us and change us in ways that get us ready for His coming.
Amazing things can happen in the days ahead if we prepare for the coming of the Lord. So “clear the way in the desert.” But why should we do this, why should we ask God to cleanse our hearts – to forgive us our sin as we forgive those who sin against us? Because God’s desire is to pour out His “Spirit on all people” (Acts 2:17), to fill our mouths with laughter and our lips with shouts of joy (cf. Job 8:21), and to build a people of power and praise who will move through this land by His Spirit and glorify His precious name. But, for this to happen we’ve got to have clean hearts . . .
“Then cleansed be every heart from sin;
Make straight the way for God within,
And let us all our hearts prepare
For Christ to come and enter there”