At one time or another, we’ve all found ourselves lost in a desert. Things have not worked out as planned. We’ve made mistakes.  We’ve been let down and used. We don’t know where to turn or who to trust. But if we listen hard enough, we hear a “voice” crying out to us, a voice that speaks in the oasis of our hearts, directing us to a new spring of hope. A loving spouse, a wise teacher, a generous neighbor, a conscientious boss — all can be that “voice of one crying the desert” that leads us to hope and even to a sense of rejoicing. 

We walk a lot of crooked roads in our lives: relationships that for some reason have become strained; demands on our time that have distracted us from being present for those we love; attitudes of privilege that have brought strife to others because of their race, gender, culture, or creed. Daring to believe we can make a difference, we start “straightening” those crooked roads, making an entryway for reconciliation, peace, and healing.

The coming of Christ calls us to the work of making a straight road for him, of transforming the barren deserts around us into harvests of justice and peace, of reflecting the light of his forgiveness and mercy in our midst. We are all called to this kind of “prophetic” work begun by John the Baptist at the Jordan River – to use whatever skills and resources we possess to bring hope into prisons of despair, joy into deserts of sadness, and love into broken hearts.  Such accomplishments are always cause for rejoicing!