“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth” (Isaiah 40:3-4 NJKV).
In the twenty-five years that I have traveled in Asia I have noticed two major areas of development that have affected me personally – communications and transportation. In the early years I might call my family in the U.S. one or two times in a month’s absence; now via inexpensive mobile phones, internet, and Skype we are in contact almost every day. When I first began visiting Bangladesh, the trip from Dhaka to Khulna required more than ten hours and involved at least six ferry crossings. Now the ferries are down to one and my last journey was barely more than six hours long. What a great blessing good roads and bridges are!
Isaiah’s prophecy of the “voice crying in the wilderness” was fulfilled in the person and ministry of John the Baptizer (Matthew 3:1-3). It was that great prophet who prepared the way of the Lord, who smoothed the rough places and leveled the mountains in preparation for the coming of Jesus. There is no doubt that his ministry raised the Messianic expectations of the people of Palestine so that the works and teaching of Jesus received a ready audience.
But Isaiah’s words are also emblematic of Jesus’ own impact upon the lives of those who trust and follow him. He is “The way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through (him)” (John 14:6).
During his career of miracles and messages on earth Jesus demonstrated the ability to calm all of life’s storms (Mark 4:35-41), meet man’s most basic needs (Mark 6:34-42), and comfort those in the deepest of sorrows (John 11:28-37).
When the imprisoned Baptizer sent disciples to inquire whether he was indeed the One who was to come, he replied, “Tell John the things you have seen and heard; that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:22). That was surely the smoothing of many rough places and the straightening of a lot of paths.
Can there be any doubt that faith in Jesus makes life easier? Not only in the age of miracles when he walked this earth in human form, but for all the rest of time, those who trust in him are helped. Listen to his invitation: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Good roads make life easier and safer everywhere. There are no roads so easy to travel as those which we share with the Savior of the world. He levels our hills and strengthens our feet. And he will lead us to where we most want and need to go.