I arrived in a car in Chontal at the beginning of this month. As you get close, you cross over a bridge, climb a short hill, and then bear onto the main road and approach the village. This time a big surprise landed on me: the main road in the village had been paved with asphalt.
This is a deal changer for the people. The reason is that, not only did the road turn to mud in the rain season, but even worse, it fed the homes and businesses along the main road a healthy diet of dust during the dry season. And the dust affected absolutely everything.
It got into clothes, bedding, personal items. It got into technology, like computers and printers, shortening their lives. It got into furniture, cutlery, towels. It got into whatever your business was selling, be it cookware for restaurants or the clothes you might sell, to a fine layer over packaging. A layer of dirt eventually covers floors and all available surfaces in houses, the church, the school. Things had to get covered for protection, or else cleaned often. And worse of all it got into people’s eyes, into their nose and throat, and into their lungs. The dry season brought a myriad of health problems, often with long-term effects.
So, there had to be a constant maintenance of cleaning off the dirt. Once you cleaned, the dirt would come back before you knew it. I had to have my computer covered, because just a day out in the open would result in a fine layer of dust and dirt, and get into the fan components.
So now that the road has been paved, the dirt and dust is gone, never to come back. It now changes everything. People are beginning to clean like it’s the last time that’ll do it. Some folks are actually thinking that they can have some nice things in their homes, and, even more, guest rooms for visitors that are clean. There’s a new mood now, a feeling of liberation from something that has held life back there for a while. A feeling of salvation.
Because the dirt that kept coming back will never come back again.
The new paved road has changed everything.
To prepare the way for Jesus’ coming, the prophet Isaiah talks about making roads straight and smooth. It’s a one-time thing, because once you make the road straight and smooth, all the effects from the crooked and unfinished road are gone. New possibilities that were held back before, are now opened up. A smoothened, straightened road changes everything.
It’s common to have to clean our lives up, and keep coming back to clean up the same mistakes we make. But in the coming of Jesus, God wants to give us a new foundation that lasts, a smooth and straight road that doesn’t keep bringing the dirt and dust into our hearts day after day. A road that doesn’t bring us back to constant cleaning and maintenance, that doesn’t hold us back from preparing for the greater things in life. A road that, once it’s done, is DONE.
God wants to give us salvation.
So that everything can change.
“‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” (Lk 3:4-6)