Advent is filled with John the Baptist moments. John the Baptist is like the siren at the head of a motorcade, waking us up to the arrival of someone important. What’s he saying? “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
In college, I would make the drive home from Dallas to Cincinnati by myself: 961 miles, many of them boring. One trip stands out from the rest: It was me and my not-so-trusty Chevrolet Cavalier. No A/C, and Dallas in summertime is…… warmish. About 60 miles into the trip, the front passenger-side wheel started making a groaning noise so loud that people on the phone with me could hear it. It also started vibrating so hard that the car would persistently drift to the left. So I spent the next 931 miles of highway putting the turn signal on, drifting left, and then groaning the car back to the right hand lane to do it all over again. (No, I didn’t pull over. What makes you ask that?) So my driving pattern looked something like this:
The family mechanic would later tell me that the wheel had almost fallen off. Something about a broken hub. Also the radio was broken.
A straight path would have been preferable. And if you’ll permit me to move from asphalt to abstract, looking again at the words of John the Baptist, straight paths are also preferable in the spiritual life.
True to its name, Advent is all about Jesus’ coming into the world. He comes for each soul, as if it were the only soul he ever created, the only one alive in the universe. What sort of path would he prefer to take to me? Well, he’ll take the path that I give him. What curves do I put in the road? Do I turn aside before the person I’d rather not speak to joins a group I’m in? Do I assign unkind motives to people’s actions that could (and likely do) have a reasonable explanation? Am I impatient? There are all sorts of bends in the road we can give to the Lord, who only wants to come directly to us so that he can heal us. Christ was born to save.
“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” A pure heart puts no obstacle between God and itself. Let’s ask the Lord to purify our hearts between now and the day of his birth so that when he comes to us he finds a road that looks something like this:
(All art by the author)