I remember sitting as a sophomore in the band bus following a marching band performance and someone of out nowhere brought up Jesus returning. Jesus-supposed-to-return was a first for me and strange to my ears. In my vacuum, I had rarely ever thought of Jesus, but the thought of Him coming back seemed like a pipedream. The weirdness was amplified that everybody else surrounding me had heard this! Even my best friend sitting next to me who never thought about God looked incredulous at my ignorance. It was eerie, because the thought of it was too science-fiction for me. But, I was alone.
From those beginnings before any knowledge or faith, the Coming of Jesus has flickered in different stages of reality to me. I have come to realize every age of those seeking Him since the writings of Scripture have expected Him during their lifetime. They not only expected it, but they formed their lives after it. The fact that He didn’t physically come during their day didn’t negate that they were close with His heartbeat. They WERE hearing His heart, and revealed that by their passion to seek, search, long and even be assured they would see Jesus. 2Ti 4:8 “…not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.”
A new awareness is dawning upon me, and it is not safe. God sent out a messenger before “ahead of Him.” He was called John the Baptist. He was to prepare His way. As in my spirit, I sense I am being sent out AHEAD. There I am out there in this thing called “my LIFE.” There is One of Worth that I cannot even fathom just a few steps behind. It is almost as if I can feel breath on the back of my neck and distant thunder on the same ground I walk.
Prepare: “Sending an envoy who will furnish equipment, make ready.”
For John, this preparing meant shouting, a shout in such an intensity that it caused his voice to go high and shrill. And this high shrill voice was calling for change in people. Change. Wow, what could be two more defying things to everything around us? Shouting for people to change. What a huge tension for us. What could be more opposite than what we have been formed to BE to function well in society?
As I grapple (actually wrestle) with this, I realize the picture of John the Baptist is diametrically OPPOSITE of everything society has taught me and molded me to be! “Be quiet” is deep. Don’t speak your convictions. Don’t make anyone uncomfortable. And no day is communicating this more than today. And if you do speak, never imply another’s need to change. But John cleared the channels for Jesus by stating people needed to change so they could know the Greatness of Him, not for “change’s” sake, but for His! The baptism John’s hearers underwent meant they “recognized the need for God’s forgiveness with a sense that one needed to live differently as a response to it.”
That would be “the way” to prepare for the King, not cutting down trees or paving roads, because His Way, His passion is for the hearts of beloved people. People’s hearts are His desire above all else. Yet to accomplish that as an envoy is to create a shift, an unsettling as it were in a heart. To His coming that kind of preparing is like cutting down a sequoia.
Will you grapple, too, with this? The reality of using our influence to speak the words to our friends and neighbors that Christ will be returning for us (“I believed, therefore I spoke”) and to inaugurate a door for the Coming Worth.