Day 24

Prepare the Way of the Lord

from the Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope reading plan

Luke 1:57-80, John 1:19-23

BY Melanie Rainer

Pregnancy is wonderful, but at times, it can also be fairly miserable, which is how I feel toward the end of my pregnancies. If you’ve ever found yourself in those shoes, then you know how uncomfortable it can be. Everything hurts, and it’s nearly impossible to bend over. As I grew, so did the wave of hormones, which made me want to withdraw from friends and family, to the point where my primary method of communication with many people became texts that utilized either “the rage face” emoji or gifs of very overweight cats. With my last pregnancy, I distinctly remember leaving my doctor’s office in tears, hysterical and frustrated because, at 38.5 weeks, I WAS STILL PREGNANT. I’d never felt more impatient, anxiously awaiting the sweet relief of birth—and, of course, meeting our new baby.

And so, when I read about Elizabeth and Zechariah, and the birth of their son, I feel every wave of their words and emotions. I know my own anticipation must have been nothing compared to that of the barren Elizabeth and the mute Zechariah. I am humbled by their story. During pregnancy, I wrestled with my own selfishness every day, shame filling my anxious heart, because I knew there were so many who would give anything to be in my position. I imagine it’s a longing Elizabeth might’ve felt, too, in the years leading up to her own pregnancy and the birth of her son.

Advent is our waiting season.

Maybe you’re waiting for a baby to be conceived or born, or for an older child to come home. Maybe you’re waiting for healing or love, for reconciliation or freedom. If we’re honest, we’re all waiting for something. And collectively, whether we know it or not, we’re waiting for Jesus to come again, longing for the wrongs of this world to be made right. We live an everyday Advent, waiting for the final, triumphant return of our King.

Zechariah sings the song of an Advent people. He sings of the Lord’s steadfast faithfulness, and he knows it to be true. He blesses the Lord, remembering the Old Testament covenants that had brought the Jews to this point, recounting the promises God made to Abraham, to David, and to His people. For centuries upon centuries, the people of God had waited for the Messiah. They knew what it was to wait.

After the birth of his son, who would be known as John the Baptist, Zechariah prophesies over his baby with a prayer I’ve adapted for my own children:

“And you, child, will be called
a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare his ways,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.
Because of our God’s merciful compassion,
the dawn from on high will visit us
to shine on those who live in darkness
and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76–79).

Could that be our cry, our prayer, and our calling too? Just as John the Baptist would prepare the way for the incarnate Christ, we ought to adopt his mission as our own, harkening to the day when our Jesus will come again, giving knowledge of His salvation to those who don’t yet know Him. In so doing, we await His return with purpose, spreading the good news of our precious Savior to all who will hear.

Elizabeth waited. The Jewish people waited. And we wait too. But we know our King is coming, just as we’re sure of the coming sunrise, to give light to those who sit in darkness, and to guide our feet in the way of peace.

Post Comments (37)

37 thoughts on "Prepare the Way of the Lord"

  1. Ashley Thomas says:

    Merry Christmas Eve Sisters! May you all be blessed.

  2. Danielle Chappell says:

    This is so beautiful and such a blessing to read & be reminded that just like John, we are the voice in the wilderness crying out to those in darkness. I so desperately need to remember this and teach my children this especially in the midst of such a self-seeking, self-glorifying season as what Christmas has turned into. Father, forgive us for we know not what we do.

  3. Cynthia Ramain says:

    Linda, I am praying for you this very moment! Worship in silence and peace, which sometimes is my very favorite worship. Play Silent Night and focus on all that you DO have. You are traveling on a very tough path, but this too shall pass. Jesus has a plan for you. Be patient, be silent and wait. There are amazing things on your horizon. I am with you tonight, as many others are… in the word and kingdom of God. Merry Christmas Linda and peace be with you❤️

  4. Linda G says:

    This evening my heart is so heavy. I’m alone on Christmas Eve with a bad cold so my plans for worship went kaput. My son works tomorrow. And my daughter isn’t speaking to me. I’ve tried everything in my power but her dad is feeding her lies. Reconciliation is my desire and my prayer. I’m fortunate to have family nearby (second cousins) who have invited me over in the afternoon and son and I will have our little Christmas late tomorrow when he’s back from work. I have no siblings, my parents are gone and I’m in my 60s. I don’t have a church home. So I’m lonely and grieving my daughter who believes lies rather than who
    I am. She’s now an atheist as is her husband. Please pray for Devin and Josh as the Lord leads you. And Lord, help me to focus on you and your humility of taking on flesh for us.

    1. Jackie De Paiva says:

      Dear Linda
      You’re brave to share your heart and hurt. I’m so sorry for all your heartache. I pray the Lord will give you rest as you entrust it all into His hands, your daughter and the lies that abound, all of it deeply hurtful. But as I read your post, I saw so much light and hope in the midst of it. You have your son. You will celebrate differently, but together. You have family who want you to be part of today. Immanuel is with you. You are seen and known. Your hurt and longing are seen and known. Reconciliation is God’s heart too. It’s why He sent Jesus. He’s for you and your family. My prayer is that the Lord would give you joy in the midst of your sorrow, and above all, continued hope and peace. Merry Christmas dear sister

  5. Rachel McKib says:

    I enjoyed this devotional!! (I’ve enjoyed them all!). I haven’t thought about advent like talked about it here. The parallels are awesome!

  6. Diana Fleenor says:

    Longing and waiting; proclaiming and sharing…I continue to be awed by how both things (i.e. being and doing) is to be part of our walk with the Lord. While we wait for his return, we are to proclaim his good news. I want so to be on mission in every way possible! Sometimes I can wonder of how that can happened given my homebound situation, but I’m reminded when that thought comes to mind, it’s by God’s grace and his power made perfect in weakness. I’m thankful for the reminder in one of the comments that we are called to proclaim rather than persuade, trusting the Holy Spirit to be the one to persuade. We can surrender with hope!

  7. PamC says:

    Merry Christmas from a grateful heart for all your sharing hearts.

  8. Angie says:

    Zechariah went into the temple, didn’t come out for dangerously long, and then when he did, was speechless. Months later, his elderly, barren wife gives birth to a son and she declares his name one that is not in the family line appropriate. Zechariah writes his own declaration, “His name is John,” and receives back his voice.

    The words that come from his mouth are not praises that he and Elizabeth have finally been given a son…his praise is that the long awaited, promised Messiah is coming. Salvation is at hand. God’s merciful compassion will shine in the darkness and guide our feet to peace. And, yes, the son given him will be a prophet to prepare the way before the Lord. They were given the blessing of a child, but, his one purpose, was to prepare the way for the Lord.

    We await the return of Jesus Christ. He will come again to gather His children and take us home. What is my one purpose in the waiting? To prepare the way for the Lord.

    Father God, may the throne of my heart be occupied by only You. Day by day, moment by moment, may this life You have given, be used to magnify and prepare the way for Your return. May the world see You alone when their earthly eyes view me, my actions, and my attitudes. May I live for You alone.
    Joy. In. You.

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