Wednesday, June 10, 2015

a voice and a road and a church

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
 the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,

    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
 the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
Isaiah 40:3-5

We live in Austin, a city which, years ago, tried to slow its own growth by neglecting to build sufficient highways. Our roads are twisty and wind through old neighborhoods, because they were added or widened after the land development. The road to my neighborhood is crumbling along the edges and has a wicked turn. One day last week an oncoming car nearly spun out taking that curve too fast. The whole vehicle skidded momentarily into my lane. We avoided collision, and drove on.

Straight roads would be nice.

Life, however, has twists and turns we don't see coming. Circumstances change, roads are built later than we mean to build them, and collisions seem to be inevitable. Sometimes our voice remains silent until the road we are on at last leads us all the way into the wilderness. That's when we notice there is no road here at all.

We must learn to listen for God's voice and answer well when He asks us to obey.

We are each only one voice. I have one story, one mouth, one set of hands, and one life to proclaim what I know of truth, love, and mercy.

I join with other voices, though. Together we make a beautiful harmony, a song with a melody unlike any other, as we link our one life with others. We are the Church, the Bride of Jesus, the Body of Christ, the refuge for the faithful, the safe place for the weary, and the home for the orphaned soul.

Many voices united in love is who we are. Building roads is what we do.

When life brings us prosperity, we enjoy its fruit. But when God leads us into the wilderness, we build roads for the gospel to go to the ends of the earth.

The quiet wilderness of our spiritual need leads us under the shadow of the One True God. His brazen rescue of our souls offers the chance to take our voice and make straight roads that lead directly to Him.

The Lord, Our God is mighty to save. His compassion is better than the compassion the world offers; it is more than acceptance, it is more than provision, and it is more than approval. How can the opinion of others compare to a God who dies for your salvation? God's grace is a strange cocktail of adoration and transformation.

Don't tell me I am fine on my own, good enough in my weakness. Don't rob me of my deep need for a God who will do more than accept me as I am. I don't want a stamp of approval and to be sent along the road to live as I choose to live.

I want a God who is so compassionate, who picks up my broken attempts at goodness and throws them aside as He delights to make me like Him.

He takes our weary hearts and makes them alive with His Spirit. He lifts our burdens and strengthens us with joy in His greatness. God does not forget who we were- He erases our sin and restores us to who He made us to be when He formed us in the secret place of His heart.

Don't take the deceptive, winding roads that will stunt your growth and spin you out into dangerous traffic.

Trust the ancient words of love calling you to obey the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Believe in the whole gospel, our great need for rescue, and His great willingness to transform us into His Radiant Church. Build straight paths in the wilderness, and see His glory unfold.

Do you not know?
  Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

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