A voice of one calling:
In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.Isaiah 40:3
My friend Karl just moved to California to pastor a new church. I am sure that church will welcome him and do everything it can to help his family settle into the area. I am also confident the Lord has been at work in that church before Karl’s arrival and that he will be encouraged to see the ministry the Lord has been doing through His church there.
I believe He will see great opportunities for the Lord to work through him. As a representative of the Almighty, he should expect to see the Lord empower his work. The words that he speaks in humility and compassion should bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Sadly, I am also sure that, in some very important ways, he will be completely alone.
Our text for today prophesies about the ministry of John the Baptist. A few particulars of that ministry are obvious on the surface. John is one voice. He’s not part of a collaborative chorus of friends and colleagues. John is also in the wilderness, a place indicative in the Bible of both loneliness and danger.
When the Lord moves us into new areas of ministry, we should not expect to find ourselves comfortable or our message well understood and accepted. A baker does not put his precious yeast in a dough that is already fully alive and proofed. Bakers refer to un-yeasted dough as “dead dough” because that is what it is and they invest tiny amounts of yeast into that dough to bring it to life. From the standpoint of the yeast, it starts as a lonely, inhospitable place.
As our calendar turns and our new year begins, consider the new areas of ministry in which the Lord may want to place you. Prepare yourself to be alive, active, and full of His power. But also prepare yourself to be the only one bringing your message in that new work. You won’t often have to stay that way (although you might reread Jeremiah before you promise yourself a big following) but many of us start as a lone voice.
The trick is to be so sure of your message and your Master that even if you are the lone voice in the wilderness, you are satisfied to fulfill His calling. We can be perfectly content to be the one, as long as we are His one.