Now that I have your attention, lemme â€˜splain. In Luke 3, as in other gospels, John the Baptist is described as one who is fulfilling what The Lord said through Isaiah;
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”” (Isaiah 40:3â€“5 NKJV)
Apparently, every Do It Yourself project I do from now on is going to be an object lesson from the Lord. It so happens that we recently started a study through the gospel of Luke at church a few weeks ago. We aren’t in chapter three yet but these words came to mind as I embakred on digging out some grass along our drieway and pouring concrete into a mold that resembles the stones of a pathway.
Preparing The Way
The grass in our front yard sucks. Actually, it’s the dirt that sucks. The builders basically laid sod over what was a mix of clay and large gravel. The grass really doesn’t grow so we are going to rip it out next year and put in a cottage garden. The main reason for doing this was so that Jess had more room to get in and out of the car without having to walk in swampiness. These days a two-car garage and driveway really means two cars parked so that no one can get in or out of them. Or, everyone drives Nash Metropolitans. We wanted a bit more room so we decided to dig out a section of grass and put the molds in. It turns out digging out grass that is growing in gravel and clay is kinda tough. As in digging out a two foot wide swath six inches at a time. Shovel size basically. Once done it leaves the ground very uneven.
It was during this process that the above verses came to mind. The condition of what I dug out is the condition of “the way” referred to. Before the King came the people prepare the way. They probably had teams of people working together. Some people might be using shovel-like tools to bring down lumps in the road while others might be using that material to fill in ruts or holes. Some sections of road might have even been paved with stones. Those stones would have to be repaired or replaced before the King arrived. Afterall, a King deserves a smooth entrance.
Once I was done with digging out the grass and using a rake to try to level things out, the process of mixing concrete and troweling it into the mold began. I had never worked with concrete before but I’m pretty good at following directions. The hardest part for me was the mixing. Seriously, I thought making oatmeal was a challenge. Concrete is rediculous. But after a few more hours than I had planned, I was done. And I had a farmer tan. And I was physically spent. And I’m a big whiner.
John the Mason
No, I’m not saying he was in The Illuminati, or went to secret meetings with other 33rd degree masons. John’s mission was to do this process with the hearts of people. He was sent to deal with stones. Maybe more precisly, his mission was to encourage and help people go through this process with their own hearts. The word picture invoked by The Lord sounds neat to our modern ears. It sounds almost quaint. But having prpared and paved 14 feet of path and being completely wiped out by it (I’m a wimp), the cutness has officially worn off. Props to those people who pave and repair roads!
Have we neglected (at best) or lost (at worst) this part of the gospel and what it means to become (and be) a follower of Jesus? Just as roads can be uneven and full of potholes, so can our hearts be. John preached a baptism of repentance, of preparation, for the coming King. Unfortunately we don’t know many of John’s teachings beyond these few references, but I’d bet he got very practical about it.
I think another part of our hang up with this is that we drive on freeways and highways quite often. They are smooth and groomed (for the most part) and we are too busy texting or talking or finding songs on our devices to notice. When you have to drive on country roads you have to drive slower. When you do that you notice things about the road and your surroundings. I think we need to take this kind of approach when it comes to examining and maintaining our hearts.
The Glory of The Lord Shall Be Revealed
“And all flesh shall see it together.” As I was working on my path, and particularly when I was done, I got lots of compliments from the neighbors. It was a little embarassing to be honest. They liked the look of it, they liked the simplecity of the process, and they liked how it contributed to the overall look of the house. This should be the same result as we do the same thing with our hearts. An examined heart, a maintained heart, a prepared heart, these are the things that The Lord uses to show and share His glory with those around us. He wants to use your heart. He wants to use my heart.
In various places the Bible says that we are saved, but also that we are being saved. Jesus saved us and it’s a done deal. But we are still going through this life. As we do we are basically works-in-progress. Our sins are forgiven, our sin nature has been exchanged for Jesus’ rightesouness (Romans 3:21+), yet we still do The Romans Shuffle (read Romans 7 and 8). As Christians we don’t need to be born again, again. But when we do sin we need to confess it, ask for forgiveness, and receive that forgiveness. Sin makes the road of our heart bumpy and uneven. Repentance smooths it out.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)
I’ve heard that verse referred to as the Christians bar of soap. In this context its more like the Christians shovel, rake, concrete and trowel. I believe and know from experience that if we regularly examine our hearts, protect it from things that will mess it up, and maintain it when it gets messed up, we will expereince a new level of relationship with Jesus. More than that, He will use us to bring Glory to Himself. Don’t you want that for yourself? I know I do.
Dealing with our own stuff can be exhausting work. The simplest thing can often be the most difficult thing, hence work. Imagine if Jesus said, “Corby, put that thing down. It’s messing you up.” If I am really attached to that thing, it can be the hardest thing in the world to do, yet it’s very simple. Simple does not equal easy. That’s how it can be with our hearts. But when we do it, the road is smooth and The King takes pleasure in traveling on it.