A few years ago, I slipped into a period of spiritual isolation. I felt distanced from God. Looking back, I see how a variety of factors created that condition: significant health challenges, overwork, frustrating professional matters, and a heightened sense of my mortality. The sense of isolation persisted so long, I wondered if it might be my new norm.
Nonetheless, daily life continued. Advent arrived, and I began reading the lectionary texts. When I read Isaiah 40, one phrase captured my attention: prepare the way of the LORD (v. 3). Try as I might, I could not escape it. Isaiah’s phrase became a personal word from God to me. The longer I pondered, the more I realized my spiritual isolation was a self-imposed condition. Without intending to do so, I had blocked God’s road into my heart and mind.
It was time to clear the path for God. Smoothing God’s road required real changes in how I lived. I started to take better care of myself. I ate a little more wisely, took up daily exercise, and placed some limits on how many hours I worked each week. I chose to enjoy the professional opportunities which came my way rather than focus on those which did not. Finally, I determined to embrace aging and soon discovered many positives to the experience.
Basically, I made peace with my life. The longer I practiced such peacemaking, the more I found myself sensing the presence of God.
Mind you, I still have days when I must work at it. But now that I’ve tried to fill in the valleys, make low the mountains, and smooth the ground, I find it easier to spot God walking the road that leads into my heart.
Am I willing to identify ways in which I may be making it difficult for myself to sense God’s presence? Am I willing to ask others for help in this task?
God who spoke to and through Isaiah, help me smooth your way into my heart and mind. Amen.