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Whisper of God

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

John 1:19-27
This was John's testimony. He confessed freely, "I am not the Christ." ... John replied in the words of Isaiah, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'

"I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."

John doesn't know him either. He only knows what God has told him, and he waits like everyone else for God to reveal his son. But he knows it is coming. And John knows God wants him to prepare the way.

John did know Jesus once, growing in his mother's womb. He leaped for joy at the approach of Mary and her barely conceived baby Jesus. That intimacy is what he longed for again. It didn't come while he and his cousin were growing up. Living far enough apart they saw each other only rarely. Perhaps they played together sometimes, but they grew up into adults and their lives become more serious.

John's hair was not cut. He ate plain uncooked food and slept on rocks. Rather than having fun, he learned quickly to follow a path of deprivation and suffering. He felt pain. But he also felt God.

Jewish children recited 1 Kings 19. "The Lord was not in the wind. The Lord was not in the earthquake. The Lord was not in the fire. But after the fire came a gentle whisper." God had spoken to Elijah. God spoke to John.

Perhaps John heard him in the middle of the night, under the stars. Silence. No electrical hum, no distant cars and trucks and trains, no human voices. God told John to speak out, to baptize, to prepare people (and himself) for the new thing, the coming of the Lord on earth.

Knowing God's voice, John was as certain as he had been in the womb, and he leaped again for joy. He had fun now. Nothing felt better than to stand with his face in the sun and cry out, "Make straight the way for the Lord!" God showed John his vocation, and John stood up straight and said, "Yes."

No second guessing you, Lord. My mind tricks me when I don't listen with my heart. You are speaking, you are always right here with me. Shut me up, Lord. Your gentle whisper is all that matters in the world.

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