The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.'” Luke 3:2-6 (NIV)
One of the peculiarities of living on our little island is to wake up on a foggy morning so thick you can barely see two feet in front of you. I look out my windows and cannot even see the field surrounding my house. When I walk outside, I feel like an apparition, quietly slipping into another world. It happens on occasion in the spring and fall, when the water and air temperatures are different. In the spring, the air heats faster than the colder water; in the fall, the first cold fronts slide over the warm waters of the Gulf. The reaction of warm and cold makes the fog, like steam generated from a pot of boiling water. I love those foggy mornings although driving in it is tricky. Once or twice, accidents have happened on the long bridge that connects our island to the rest of the world. As many as forty cars pile up delaying traffic for hours. So, while I love the insulated, yet eerie feeling the fog brings, I know as well of its dangers. Another reminder of the fog’s treachery is the ghostly sound of the foghorn. That long low bellow makes hair stand up on the back of my neck. Its melancholy voice calls to me floating through the air, sending a reminder for miles around to stay alert! “Watch out! Danger ahead!,” it shouts. In such weather, pilots and sea captains disoriented in the fog have smacked their vessels into the big bridge knocking portions of its span down, sinking ships. The foghorn’s job is to avert disaster if only people will listen. It cries out over and over again, the same message, until finally, the sun shines through the clouds heating the water vapor and the fog lifts. Some days, that does not happen until afternoon and we go about our day in the gloomy semi darkness. These verses include a quote from one of my favorite chapters of the Bible, Isaiah 40. They prophesy the ministry of John the Baptist who like the foghorn had the job of warning his listeners to stay alert. His main message was to tell of the Messiah, Jesus Christ’s imminent arrival. His second purpose was to remind them of their sin and urge them to repentance. He said, “Jesus is coming, get ready for Him. God’s salvation will come through Him.” While the scriptures apply to John the Baptist, they speak to me as well. I live in a world of darkness where truth is distorted and lies prevail. Where sin is so common that a godly life stands out like the sound of the foghorn. We are to be a warning to our generation. Like the foghorn, we must be faithful to that task. Our lives and our words should preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. Like the ships, people around us are sinking. Our voices can be what stands between salvation and certain death. Don’t falter until the Son comes again.