Making a Way Out of No Way
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.
“In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD” the writer of Isaiah tells us. This passage from Isaiah is filled with images and actions that seem unconventional, and maybe even impossible. Preparing for God in the wilderness, making a straight path through the desert, raising valleys, shaving down mountains and hills, leveling off rough and uneven ground, all things that seem most unusual. If I were to sum up this passage in a short phrase, it would be making a way out of no way.
In the New Testament, much of Jesus’ ministry seems to be centered on this making a way out of no way. Jesus’s ministry turns normal conventions inside out and does things that seem quite unusual. In Jesus’s ministry we see
- The last are considered to be just as important as the first (Matthew 20:1-16)
- Simple acts of generosity bring fullness to many (Mark 6:31-44)
- Those on the margins are called to lead us all (Luke 5:1-11)
- Death can be a catalyst for new life (John 11:25-26)
Yet, the way Jesus shows is not simply a path or direction. Instead, Christ become the focal point of the “Way”:
“I am the Way, the truth, and the life” John 14:6
This Way found in Jesus is different. It is a “way” of being. It is a “way” of seeing the world. It is a “way” of living.
It’s this Way that can teach us to see ourselves the way God sees us. It’s this Way that inspires us to find hope in the midst of hopelessness, joy in the midst of sorrow, love in the midst of hate, and peace in the midst of violence and hate. It’s this Way that can empower us to work within ourselves and with each other towards something different.
I don’t know about you, but I can find myself in that place of thinking “no way anything will change.” Especially in this year, it has been easy to see what’s happening in our families, in our communities, in our nation, and in our world and say that there's simply “no way.” And yet, I find that Advent continues to remind me of the promises found in the birth of the Christ child. The one who grows up to teach me to live in a new, different Way. The one who shows me there is a Way out of no way. Even when the mountains seem so steep and the valleys so deep, God is creating a Way out of no way.
Questions to Ponder:
- Where do I find myself saying “there’s no way?” What about that thing or situation seems hopeless?
- How might I prepare myself for Christ to show me a Way out of no way?
- What in Christ’s life and ministry may help me see myself differently, see the world differently, and see how I might live differently?
Holy God, who makes a Way out of no way, this advent season we pray for a reminder of the promises of a new Way found in Christ Jesus. May your spirit guide us in discerning how to see beyond what is here, to what may be. Strengthen us, renew us, empower us, and encourage us to work to make a Way out of no way in all that we do. Amen.