Tuesday before Epiphany Sunday
1 Jn 2:29-3:6
A man is coming after me who ranks before me…
Sometimes we’re recognized as the best, top ranked, and sometimes we’re not. Chances are we’ve all reported to a person who was unqualified for the job they held. We may have even complained to friends and family, and even HR, that we are more qualified than our boss, or the person who got the job. We may have made sure that others knew we were ‘better than…more important than…another person. And statistics and peers may have even supported us in this claim. Yes, most of us have (at least once or twice) spoken loudly so that many around would know our name. Many would know WE should be headlining on the marquee. I could give you personal examples, but frankly it’s just too embarrassing.
John the Baptist was not like most of us. John the Baptist lived intentionally for God’s purpose.
John continually instructs us all to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’. And to prepare means to be intentional – intentional about how you spend your time, what you are doing and where you are heading. When we are intentional, we easily see the difference between what is IMPORTANT and what is URGENT. When we live day to day, without intention, we fall into the abyss of focusing on perceived urgent matters and we miss out on the important. When we live without intention, we don’t see God amidst the smoke and mirrors and we certainly can’t hear Him because frankly, we aren’t looking for Him and our ears are tuned to the white and brown noise constantly blaring. Many of the Pharisees (and even others today) were caught up on the treadmill of fame, fortune and power. They focused on their importance. They had become so complacent with the holy that they began to put themselves at the center. They, like many today, forgot what was important to the degree that their daily intention was self-serving. When we are self-serving, when we don’t know what is important, when we are busy with the urgent and forget the important, we are not loving and serving God. And when we are not loving and serving God, we are as effective as dead leaves and litter, moving wherever the wind blows. Living with no (or forgotten or misplaced) understanding of our God infused purpose. We are of little (if any) use to others and unproductive in our own life. Living without intention is like living on a treadmill. And this is an easy place to find oneself as it is where the enemy wants us – caught up on the treadmill where we have little to no influence for God and His kingdom. We are busy important people, we must accomplish our TO DO lists at the sacrifice of all else…Yes, our world is always screaming URGENT at us – and we keep putting the important to the side. And the treadmill keeps our feet so busy running and getting nowhere. But, hey, we’re getting ‘there’ fast.
John the Baptist lived out his belief in the certainty of God’s promise. He consciously chose silence so that he could hear God loudly. He accepted that his life was for God and not for himself. He embraced this wholeheartedly. He knew what was important and he never got caught up in the man-made treadmill of fame, fortune, power and self-gratifying pleasure. His humility is perhaps unmatched, having stated ‘the thong of whose sandals I am not worth to stoop down and untie….” He intentionally chose to serve God with every breath. He intentionally chose to PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD with no thought or concern to where this road might take him personally. He knew it was never about him, because he never stepped onto the treadmill. Hopefully, we will get off that treadmill. It’s the only way we, like St. John the Baptist can prepare the way for the Lord. It’s how we can live out the proclamation of John the Baptist, who gave his life to direct us off the treadmill.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Gina Ulicny)
Prayer: With this new year, we come to you with our intention of being holy for the sake of You, in all that we choose to look at and listen to. Help us Lord, to be intentional in our prayer time, intentional with our love and intentional with mercy and forgiveness. Give us the wisdom to act in the manner of John the Baptist.
Thanksgiving: Father God, how grateful we are for John the Baptist and all the saints who have given every breath to make us aware of You. Thank you for the example of humility combined with boldness of John the Baptist, in sharing Christ the Saviour and the way to be with Him eternally.