I have a story. It came to mind when I was teaching this past weekend and I think it’s really applicable to where we are here in early December, looking forward and “preparing the way” for Christmas.
I’m not going to use names, and I don’t want to suggest anyone has reason to be concerned about “clearance” or national security issues. But I am going to be circumspect all the same.
Clearing the way:
When we lived in Florida I enjoyed the privilege of friendship with several senior military officers with pivotal responsibilities in the Middle East. A couple were involved with my men’s group, others attended my Sunday morning class. It was a huge confidence to me to understand both the high caliber of people involved and the deep faith these men not only leaned on but brought into play when discharging their duties.
One was directly involved (though not publicly) in planning the daring rescue of an American soldier held in a remote desert stronghold. The plan called for a team to swoop in, deploy a surprise attack, extract the prisoner, and then take off all in the matter of a few minutes.
In the pre-raid conference my friend went over the logistics one more time. There were, apparently, telephone poles lining the road where the landing was to take place.
“That’s not a problem,” the special forces people said. “We’ll come in while the plane is on approach.”
And they did. At the last possible minute. In one dramatic gesture – literally while the aircraft was moments from landing – a special ops unit appeared out of nowhere and took out forty or fifty poles with chainsaws. The chainsaw: no soldier’s kit is complete without one!
It’s a great story, and – interestingly – it came to my mind when I was reading this passage from Mark 1 (quoting Isaiah).
Listen! I am sending my messenger ahead of you
and he will prepare your way!
He is a thunderous voice of one
who shouts in the wilderness:
“Prepare your hearts
for the coming of the Lord Yahweh,
and clear a straight path
inside your hearts for him!”
Clear a path for the coming Lord! What a concept! And – I wonder – how are we being called to to this? What does it look like when we clear a path for Jesus between now and December 25?
To be honest, looking at the way our lives and our priorities tend to play out in this busy, congested, purchase-and-consume world we inhabit today, I’m wondering what it is we should maybe think about taking a chainsaw to over the next couple of weeks…?
Food for thought. The King is coming; are you ready? – DEREK