Crazy talk

A few days ago, I read the first few verses of Isaiah Chapter 40 in the NIV, and two tiny dots made me do a double take. It was a colon, stuck in the middle of verse three. “A voice calling: In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.” Every time before, I had read that verse like there was no colon after the word calling. It’s a prophecy of one calling in the wilderness, not one calling: In the wilderness, right? It’s a prophecy about John the Baptist.

John the Baptist did call out, and the New Testament says he did his calling and preaching and baptizing in the wilderness. Yes, he most certainly did. But in every translation of Isaiah 40:3 (thank you, Bible Gateway) that I looked at, except for one (thank you, King James), the translators chose to place a colon after the word calling, not after the word wilderness. 

Isn’t that something?

In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.

I can’t relate very well to a locust-eating, camel-skin wearing man who knows how to smoke out bees long enough to take their wild honey, but I can relate to this idea of wilderness. I can relate to feeling lonely, lost and thirsty. I can relate to feeling angry and sad and tired. And lately, I have been relating to all of those things an awful lot. My wilderness doesn’t feel like a place in which I could prepare for anything. It just feels like a situation I’m trying to survive. 

In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.

Really? Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness?

Nope. That’s crazy talk. Crazy like a man wearing camel skin and eating wild honey.

I shut the book. I shut the book for two days.

Yesterday, I opened it again. I read the rest of the chapter. I read verse 26. “Lift up your eyes.” I read verse 27. “Why do you complain?” I read verse 28 and 29. “He will not grow tired. He gives strength to the weary.” The Lord is the one who does this. The Lord is everlasting. 

Wait on Him, Isaiah says. Hope in Him, Isaiah says. In the wilderness, Isaiah says.

Hmm, I said to myself.

And then this morning, on the way to school, my Music folder was set to shuffle. There are hundreds of songs in there. But only one of them quotes Isaiah Chapter 40. It’s called“Do You Not Know” SONGS | Sing the Bible Vol. 2 | Slugs & Bugs. My 13-year-old giggled with delight when it started. It’s been a while since we listened to Volume 2. I’m so glad it popped up in the shuffle today. 

In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.

I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.