Crying Out In The Wilderness
Maybe it was the background music. A swell of melody dashed together through my earphones, reaching it's pinnacle right as I read:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord,"
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." -Luke 3:4-6 ESV
I've always thought John The Baptist was cool, but let me tell you, he's really cool with movie-score background music.
This passage in Luke is actually from Isaiah 40, and is applied to John the Baptist, Jesus' preacher cousin who "prepared the way" for Jesus, in all 4 of the gospels. Some questioned whether John was the Christ, some thought he was crazy, and most all didn't like what he had to say.
John was set apart in his mother's womb to be "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" (Luke 1). What a lonely job, and what a prophetic picture of what his life would be like. I picture, when I read that verse, someone crying out The Truth into a barren land with so much passion over and over that their throat is raw from the effort.
Sometimes, that's how I feel.
But maybe more accurate, more often, that's not how I feel. My throat is never sore from crying out, because the words don't make it past my lips. I swallow my words in the wilderness, because I wouldn't want to offend. I wouldn't want to be rejected. I wouldn't want to make waves, never mind that waves of living water would be the only thing that could quench this barren wilderness.
But John didn't swallow his words. He preached repentance, and baptized. The Jews were especially offended at this, because they only normally baptized Gentiles into the faith, no, the tribe of the chosen ones. And here John, one of them, was telling them to be baptized in repentance even though they were The Jews? Didn't he know they were fine as they were? Better than fine, chosen?
John's wilderness sounds eerily familiar to ours. A people standing so firmly in who they identify as, so reassured that they are special and chosen and right just because they say they are, that the very word "repent!" was like a slap in the face.
It can seem worthless to share your faith, to share The Faith. Because just like wayyyyy back when, repentance is a dirty word. It implies that we are sinners, and may actually have a standard of Truth that tells us so. And in today's society, there is no bigger offense.
Nevermind that our inadequacy, our very offensiveness, is part of why the gospel is so beautiful.
The thing is, while the Bible talks about those offended by John, eventually those that would imprison and behead him, it also says he baptized crowds of people, including Jesus (Luke 3:7, 21).
If we have the faith to make our throats sore crying out in the wilderness, "the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Luke 3:5-6)
Jesus asked us to go and make disciples of ALL nations, and we have the very Spirit of God guiding us and emboldening us to do so. We do not have to go and stand on the street corner and yell "You brood of vipers!!!!", that was John's thing. But we do have to go.
Your story is a weapon of righteousness in a dark wilderness (2 Corinthians 6:7). It has power, because Jesus has all power and authority. It should be wielded with love and wisdom, and submitted to the Holy Spirit.
God is for us, and God is with us. And this side of heaven we can never know the power of our testimony, of God's work, and the way it stirs hearts unseen. There will be pushback; the gospel is offensive to our generation. But no weapon formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17), because the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), and more sacred than anything. His word stands the test of time, and it is up to us to decide whether we are going to be standing on the side of eternity.
Cry out in the wilderness. And see the parched quenched by the living water.