PREPARE THE WAY - John Piper
“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” —Luke 1:16–17
What John the Baptist did for Israel, Advent can do for us. Don’t let Christmas find you unprepared. I mean spiritually unprepared. Its joy and impact will be so much greater if you are ready! That you might be prepared…
First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior. Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior. Let these short Advent meditations help awaken in you a bittersweet sense of need for the Savior.
Second, engage in sober self-examination. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23–24) Let every heart prepare him room… by cleaning house.
Third, build God-centered anticipation and expectancy and excitement into your home—especially for the children. If you are excited about Christ, they will be too. If you can only make Christmas exciting with material things, how will the children get a thirst for God? Bend the efforts of your imagination to make the wonder of the King’s arrival visible for the children.
Fourth, be much in the Scriptures, and memorize the great passages! “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord!” (Jeremiah 23:29) Gather ‘round that fire this Advent season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights.
I love how Piper uses John the Baptist and what he was doing for Israel to Advent. He wanted them ready for when the Messiah arrived and focused his time and energy to that task. There hasn’t been many times in my life where I have been so focused on one task. Like training for a race; where you are making time in your schedule for training, and preparing specific meals to better help you achieve that task. Every decision is made with that task in mind. What if we applied that focus, like John the Baptist did, toward Christmas and apply Piper’s steps? [Mediate that we need a savior, engage in self examination, build God-centered anticipation, and memorize scriptures.] Every day, every decision would be focused on Christmas - the true meaning of Christmas. I don’t want this year to be like all the rest, where one day it’s December 1st and all of a sudden it’s December 25th. I want to be prepared, ready for it. Not stressed about to-do lists, but excited about it. Not dreading countdowns but getting more and more excited that Christmas is almost here! Like vacation. There is still planning to do, but the excitement is still there. Advent is the perfect chance to do that. What a nice thought to be prepared for the Lord. I want to be that prepared person. Bonus, other people may see that and (hopefully) will ask where our excitement comes from. Merry Christmas!