I got stuck in the slushy mess.
Driving out yesterday was a cinch. After a mass of snow and ice hit our area over the weekend, we now had temperatures in the 50s. It was warm, bright and sunny and we needed to get out of the house.
The snow was no longer snow. The ice no longer ice. It was a slushy concoction and when we walked in it, our feet sucked down into the wet.
So, we inched out of our driveway and headed to freedom at the library and the grocery store!
But by the time we got home, the slush had melted even more. It was like quicksand now, and we were sitting in a huge minivan loaded down with one mom, four kids and a week’s worth of groceries from Wal-Mart.
So, my minivan just slurped right down into it the moment I drove into the mess.
I unloaded the children.
I unloaded the groceries.
And I grabbed a shovel to dig out the slush from around the tires.
It didn’t take much to get the van moving again, (it’s only snow after all), but then we just sunk right down into the slush again every few inches.
Finally, I realized what this was truly going to take. I was going to need to dig a path for each tire until no more melted snow and ice remained anywhere my tires needed to go.
I had to prepare the way.
So that’s what I did. I shoveled the melted mush out of the way and drove just as smoothly as could be back into the grooves of an already worn path.
That’s what John the Baptist told the curious crowd gathered by the water to hear him preach:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight‘ (Luke 3:4 ESV)
In her book, Jesus, The One and Only, Beth Moore says:
The original Greek word for ‘paths’ is the word tribos, which means ‘a beaten pathway.’ In a personal way God wants us to prepare a path.
This isn’t a path that’s just stumbled upon; it’s one that’s beaten out and formed with purposeful intentionality.
What would that mean for me?
If I stood on the bank of the river and heard this wild-looking prophet telling me to make a beaten pathway in my life for the Lord, what would I need to do?
I’d need to dig out the slush and the mire, the mess and the grime. I’d need to clear it all out of the way so my heart was ready for God to come in power and might to do a new work in me.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that grace and righteousness depend on me shoveling out sin with my own two hands gripping the shovel.
But it does mean I need to be yielded and ready for the work God wants to do.
I can’t hold on to my plans.
I can’t cling to my agendas.
I can’t try to hide sin in the corners of my heart.
Preparing a way for the Lord means listening and not shutting Him out.
It means offering up my heart to Him and asking the Holy Spirit that question that I can be oh-so-hesitant to ask: “What do you need to change in me to make me more like Jesus? I offer you my heart and I ask you to do the work.”
I know what that means. It’s risky. It’s dangerous.
He could try to teach me patience.
He could put difficult people in my life to teach me how to love more truly.
He could bump into my perfect plans and replace them with His own.
In my flesh and in all my selfishness, what I want is what I want: My expectations, My hopes, My thoughts.
But what I want truly, deeply, more than anything else is for God to transform me, to take off those rough edges and mold my heart so people see Jesus in me.
So I yield.
I pick up the shovel.
I ask God to prepare my heart for the work He wants to do in me and through me. Beat out a straight path in my life. Wear it right down, Lord, so I’m ready for what you want to do.
I join Him in the task, knowing that I want Jesus, just Jesus, always Jesus more than anything else.