John the Baptist was the herald for Jesus; he prepared the way not just by instructing people to change their lives, but also by asking them to make an outward sign of their commitment by being baptized in water. We’ve recently completed the Advent season during which we heard John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of Jesus; how did we do with making changes in our lives?
I’m in the middle of packing my life up, or at least packing up the past 21 years I’ve spent in my condo; I’m preparing to sell it in order to move closer to family in Virginia. I can’t help but draw a parallel between this sorting of things that I’ve accumulated and making a spiritual inventory. It’s a taxing process to look at a book or an item, remember the who, when and why of how it came to me and then make a decision to keep it, donate it, or trash it. Since I don’t know yet where I’ll be living, I don’t know what I’ll need. The instinct is to keep everything. But each item will need to be packed in a box, moved and then unpacked. The question becomes, is it worth taking? If I look at my relationship with God in that same manner, how much unnecessary stuff am I carrying? Is the baggage worth holding onto? Is it making it harder for God to work through me?
While I have purged my belongings before, as recently as two years ago in preparation for adopting my cat, this move is taking me far deeper than I have been before. It is truly an entire home in upheaval. It’s like the previous purges were those called for by John the Baptist, but this one is the one called for by Jesus. As He began His ministry, He proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) It is not a call to listen to His teachings, decide what we like and what we want to follow. It is a call to stop, identify where our relationship is broken with God and to mend our ways so that we are able to do God’s will.
This amount of change is a bit scary. I have no idea what God is asking of me. There is a part of me that just wants things to go back to the way they were and not have to go through this process. It’s at those times that I know I’m doing the right thing and that this depth of change is not just needed, but long overdue. As each box is packed, the donation and trash piles grow, and there is a sense of relief, of hope of something better. I can’t imagine what God has planned for me, and I don’t want to try. His blessings are much more fabulous than anything I can dream of and this is what changing is all about.