Believe it or not, I’m actually going to try and post every single day for a month, with perhaps some Sunday breaks. I might even keep at it after that. You never know. Since I am leaving for a road trip to the beach in a week, you might just get euphoric photos of the ocean (that would be me being euphoric, not the ocean, though a grand crash of a wave truly does embody euphoria). But at least it will be a post. I love being here and rubbing up against all of you and your thoughts again. Thank you, thank you a million times for your comments and letters. I love them!
For today, a jot of a thought from my quiet time. I am part of a truly great Bible study that will begin in the autumn. The prep starts now though with a summer assignment to read through Mark while doing three things; observing, recording, and finding cause for thanksgiving.
I am sometimes overwhelmed by Scripture, or more precisely, my own feeling that I am an inadequate reader. There is often a doubting in me, an angsty curiosity that wonders if I am up to the task of understanding and responding with appropriate fervor to the living words of God. So, this assignment is good. Sets me smack in the middle of Scripture angst or not. Part of my reason for being in this study is that it is a return to the basics of discipleship taught by a woman who has spent a lifetime walking with God. The interesting thing is, I am the youngest of the group. This is a study of pretty mature Christians hungry for the basics. I guess listening to God, catching the echoes of His living voice in Scripture, praying, and living those words, is a basic no one ever outgrows.
So, I faithfully opened Mark, read eight verses and began to observe. Oh the wonders of a simple assignment. Not three verses in, I was struck as I never have been before by the emphasis the writer gave to John the Baptist as a messenger who prepared the way for salvation. Mark echoes a luminous passage in Isaiah where God cries out for hills to be leveled and valleys lifted up and rough paths and hearts smoothed in preparation for Jesus- whose coming is the one thing all the earth has cried for throughout every century.
Jesus came, that is the great news we are always proclaiming. But his way was made straight by prophets crying out in the wilderness. Prophets, those forgers of God’s road into history, were people who walked in a land and time of barrenness. Salvation hadn’t come yet. But they walked so closely with their Lord, and listened with such heart-aching carefulness for God to speak, that they knew the glory, the goodness that was coming, despite the wilderness being all they could see. Their call to repentance, their visions of hope, their assurance of redemption, shaped hearts and smoothed spirits in preparation of God’s salvation.
Now, I know Jesus has come. That’s the first truth that any of us ought to be shouting about. But there is still a vast wilderness of hollow human hearts where his coming is still in progress. The way is still being made, even today, in the hearts and minds of each generation. Which means, there is still a bunch of wilderness around. You hear so much about the dire straights of morality these days, of broken families, people aching with loneliness, believers struggling as we think no lover of God ever should. I often respond to news like that with an indrawing of heart- a shoring up of my spirit that tries to protect myself from despair and buckle down for the bad days to come.
But maybe this is the wilderness into which I am made to cry, cry, cry aloud the coming of the living God. Maybe we lovers of God are still supposed to be preparers of the way. What does that mean? How do I ready hearts? Smooth an intellectual way? Lift up valleys of despair so that God has a bright summer road into the hearts of the people I meet. It’s something I’m going to ponder, because redemption is still in process. Salvation is still aching to be announced. God’s people have always been called to speak forth his glory.
Just think o’ that.