There are times when we feel far from God. Times when we are struggling. Often, we refer to these times as wilderness or desert experiences.
How do we connect?
We can prepare the way of the Lord. Creating a highway in the desert for our God.
It is John the Baptist who brings us the instructions.
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'” Matt. 3:1-3 ESV
The instructions John gave 2,000 plus years ago for those lost spiritually are the same for us today. Repentance is not only required for salvation, it is essential for our walk with God. It prepares our heart to take the straight path, God’s way through the wilderness rather than stumbling along on our own; flailing in uncertainty but hoping to somehow touch God as we grope our way along a path we have chosen.
How do we make straight a highway for our God?
Through repentance. According to the Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words, this English term comes from “the Greek metanoia, “a change of mind,” and the Latin re, “again,” and poenitere, “to make repent.” In the New Testament, it means to turn away from sin and turn toward God and His will. Repentance radically transforms attitude and direction.”
To repent we use our mind to comprehend God’s way and determine how our way has become skewed. Once we have corrected the error of our thinking, we can correct our behavior and thus make straight the path. Repentance is always demonstrated in the physical realm.
When we repent, our perspective changes and we align our behavior with God’s ways. Therefore, we are no longer at odds with God. Repentance is a complete change of heart resulting in restoration.
In Psalm 15 David asks who may abide in God’s tabernacle or be close to God? He answers those “who do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the LORD, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.” NLT
Positionally in Christ we are righteous and can stand in the presence of God, but our heart can be far away.
To draw close to God once again through repentance we acknowledge the seriousness of our sin, refusing to justify it.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Let’s look more closely at the Scripture that announced the coming of John the Baptist, Isaiah 40:3-5.
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” ESV
Valleys might be the areas in which we struggle. This could be discouragement, worry, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or unworthy.
How do we lift up these valleys?
James 4:10-“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” We can bring these issues to God with a humble heart. Humbleness is to be unassuming in attitude and behavior, respectful, and without pretensions.
Proverbs 3:34 says God gives grace to the humble, and we know God’s grace is sufficient. (2 Cor. 12:9)
The next few sentences about hills and mountains being made low; crooked places straight, and rough places smooth speaks to all our thoughts and actions that are not of God. This includes our self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, tendency to turn to the world, or respond to situations in an ungodly manner.
Repentance is a change of heart that creates a straight highway. It smooths the rough places and levels uneven ground.
©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved
1-How has repentance helped you prepare for the Lord to do mighty works in your life? What did you need to turn from to get on the straight path?
2-In the comment section -Please share a time when you had a complete change of heart, turning from your way to God’s way.