“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.”
Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? You never hear the voice in the grocery store say, “Clean up in aisle 5” if there is no mess in aisle 5. Or, more succinctly, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
In the imagination of God’s people, the wilderness was a place where bad things happened. The wilderness had wild animals and, sometimes, wild people. You could get away from it all in a wilderness, but it would be hard to survive out there. The wilderness wasn’t a place you would go if you could avoid it.
Isaiah’s promise is that God is going to redeem, to save, to tame the wilderness. God will water its desert, straighten and smooth its road. The wilderness, the scary places of the world, will be the place where we see God’s fullest glory.
It’s not a stretch of anyone’s imagination to think we’ve been in a bit of a wilderness these past months. To use the words “wild” and “untamed” feel almost genteel. We’ve all probably thought of many, shall we say, less polite ways of thinking of these days. But wildernesses and hard places seem to be God’s specialty. We’re aware of God more out there in the wilds, perhaps because the wild places make us more aware of our limitations.
It’s not bad to know that we’re not lords of the universe. It reminds us of who we are. It also helps us remember that we’re all out here together, out in this strange, wild, scary wilderness. And, more importantly, that we’re not out here alone. God is out here with us.
Pastor Gary Erdos