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The Christmas story isn’t just about a baby being born, it’s about God stepping into the dryness, the chaos, the questions and the wilderness of our lives.

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Read Isaiah 40:1-5

Driving in-between the beautiful states of Colorado and California, you’ll notice a whole lot of desert. It’s possible to go hundreds of miles without seeing a substantial city. Every once in a while, you’ll pass by a town in the middle of nowhere and you may wonder, “Who lives in these places?” It’s dry. It’s desolate. It has to be a struggle to find work, and it must be incredibly lonely. The wilderness is like that – when strength is pushed to the limit, hope for vitality falls by the wayside, and despair seems easier than survival. Yet, the wilderness is often where we hear the voice of God.

The wilderness is where many people throughout Scripture encounter the Almighty. Elijah is one example. When Elijah first comes into the picture as a prophet for Israel, he prophesies there would be no rain for years. After declaring this, he enters the wilderness (1 Kings 17:3-4). There, God meets him and feeds him and sustains him. God uses the wilderness to prepare him and shape him in the silence. It was in the wilderness God “spoke tenderly to him” (1 Kings 19:9-18).

In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesies of a time when the Messiah will come and when he comes, he’ll meet people in the wilderness. Isaiah says, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). Ironically, Jesus doesn’t come to people in church. He doesn’t come to people reading their Bible. He meets people in their desert.

The Christmas story reminds us that we meet God in the wilderness of our lives. We tend to push back against dry seasons, we long for our questions to be resolved, and we desire for the relational struggles to be mended. We don’t like the wilderness, but the wilderness is often where we hear the voice of God. It’s the place where God is born in us. The Christmas story isn’t just about a baby being born, it’s about God stepping into the dryness, the chaos, the questions and the wilderness of our lives. It’s about a God who declares, “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:4-6). The wilderness is not something to be afraid of, rather it’s a time when you can anticipate meeting Jesus.

Consider your wilderness and use Isaiah 40:3-5 to guide your prayer response to God. What might you ask God to make straight? What valley do you want him to raise? What uneven ground do you want leveled? What rough places do you want smoothed? Finish by proclaiming the words of Isaiah 40:3-5 aloud.

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By Ryan Paulson

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