“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
When I was in graduate school many years ago, I spent whole days at my desk. One day a squirrel skittered across the porch roof, peered in my window, then rushed away. I was fascinated by how close he came to the window.
I must have been bored of Dickens and Trollope, for the next day I opened the window, left it open, and put a few peanuts on the roof. Sure enough, my squirrel came, sat out there eating his peanuts. Next day I put out some more peanuts, just a little closer to the window. Bingo. Next day I put them closer, too close—and he balked. I learned that I had to make the moves toward the window smaller and shorter. But eventually I got that brown squirrel right up to the window. He’d sit there and eat, looking right at me.
Then one day I put the peanuts inside the window well. It took three days, but finally he jumped into the well. Now he was probably four feet from me. I sat stock still. Next I put the peanuts on my desk, which was against the window. He’d have to actually come inside the house, sit on my desk. The very first day, he did. My heart was pounding.
I slowly got that squirrel to jump in that window, get on my desk, and—gradually—walk about two feet down to the very center, right smack in front of me. Sit there on his haunches and eat peanuts. I could have reached out and petted him.
“Prepare the way.” Isaiah’s prophecy, offered to Israel in exile, means: We can’t make God come and rescue us, but we can clear a path, make a way, build a highway for God to come to us. I hope Isaiah won’t cringe when I add, you have to put out the peanuts—put your heart out there, keep moving it along the path, closer and closer. Please come. This way.