John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
Interesting, right? that John didn’t answer, “I am God’s baptizer.”
Somewhere over the course of his life John had learned who he was. Somehow he had become sure enough to say -with no hem hawing around: “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
I wonder how long it took John to find himself.
I’m sure his identity was first planted deep in his parents’ stories:
I can hear Elizabeth telling him early on, “I couldn’t have babies, Johnny. We prayed and prayed and waited and hoped. For years we hoped. And then He gave us you. You are a gift from God, sweetheart.
And I’m sure the family story grew in detail as he grew in age, “Your father suffered the shame of being a priest without a son, John. People whispered and murmured and looked at us with questions and reproach; it was hard – but we prayed. We didn’t give up. You are our answered prayer, son.”
And then there was his father’s story! I can only imagine Zachariah’s passionate father/son talk,
“… Then Gabriel showed up, John, and talked to me, your dad! Honestly, I just couldn’t take it all in. He told me about you. He told me what your name was to be… But Your mom and I, we were so old, John, and the dream seemed too great and bottom line, I just didn’t believe. I was too proud. And frankly, I was scared to death! So God gave me silence – struck me dumb right there on the spot! Ha. Boy I needed that, son. A tangible sign I was dealing with a holy, powerful, capable God. Oh what a blessing of silence that was! I needed the quiet, and the time, and the humbling, so I could contemplate the miracle’s beginning. Your beginning, son. I was struck dumb until I was ready to shout to the world: His name will be John! You are chosen of God, son. Your life, your purpose, heck, even your name! They are all His, John.
What a legacy to step into!
But, still, I have to wonder how long it took for John to know, really know who he was… Not what his parents knew. Not what his aunts and uncles knew. Not what his rabbi knew. But John, himself. How long before he could stand up straight, look Life in the eye and say without flinching, “I am the voice of one calling out in the wilderness” ?
He obviously knew the words of Isaiah, but what made them his to wear?
Could it be the wilderness he speaks of, was first his own?
I mean, finding our true identity tucked deep in the heart of a faithful God, never comes easy, does it? Could it have been hard for John, too?
Was John driven to the lonely obscurity of desert, clothed with nothing but despair?
Was John seeking the reality of God as he lived on honey and locust?
Was he trying to find for himself the greatness of purpose he had heard about his whole life?
Could it be that John “found” himself at the end of himself – like we are all so apt to do? Did he find himself crying out from his own wilderness looking for his own straight path? Was it then God spoke the words of Isaiah into his heart? Was it in the wilderness he heard the living, breathing whispering seeds of Truth – from a living, breathing, faithful God:
“You’re a voice, John.
You are the voice, John.
I’ve led you to this wilderness – and in this wilderness I’ve called you.
I have summoned you by name; You are mine.
But there are others, John. Many more. Children I love
… and they are wandering. Lost. Looking for home.
You, son, are my voice now…
Make straight the way.
Jesus, my identity – my beginning and my end – is and will always be defined by you.
And right smack in the middle between my own alpha and omega, in this In-Between called Life… Right smack in all the adventurous, tumultuous, glorious steps along the way, You are the Faithful Father who says,
You are chosen.
I have summoned you by name.
… and I will guide your every step.
Even in the wilderness, I will guide you,
because I love you.
I am passionately in love with you.
You are mine.
Jesus, I am yours. Help me truly learn what that means.
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