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  • Writer's pictureLeeAnn Witzigman

Voice in the Wilderness

“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord!”   John 1:23


Right before Christmas break, I picked up my daughter from a rehearsal for her school’s musical, Beauty and the Beast. As she buckled up, she declared, “I’m so glad I didn’t get the role I wanted of being one of Gaston’s girls, because Gaston is a girl!” Upon further questioning, she revealed that a 5th grade girl was cast to be Gaston and she was unsettled that she’d have to watch girls flirt with a girl pretending to be a man. My heart instantly dropped as I knew the Holy Spirit was exposing something dark in a place we once considered a safe and healthy environment. I had the unfortunate, but empowering, talk with my 10 year old that a girl dressed in a boy’s clothing breaks God’s heart, which we read together in Deuteronomy 22:5.

I don’t know about you, but it seems as if every time a storm blows over, a new one is brewing on the horizon. I honestly can’t think of a school year we’ve had where there wasn’t some battle on some level that God eventually won and before we could finish shouting our praises, we noticed another advancing front of opposition headed our way.

About a week later, I was wrestling with the Lord on how to handle this reversed role casting issue. With all my heart, I was hopeful He was going to let me out of this one. But as I was almost asleep, I heard one of my life’s Bible verses rise to the surface – the one written above, John 1:23. With a smile, I gave in to His will and experienced the peaceful comfort He sends to those whose voices He’s getting ready to use for His namesake. From back then to right now, it’s the same wilderness, voice, and commission. But are we the ones He’s calling to or are we the ones crying out from within Him?

After much prayer, I wrote an email to the music teacher, drama director, assistant principal, and principal letting them know Leia would no longer be participating in the musical due to the casting decisions that are damaging and disturbing for the children. I made my heart known that protecting and defending innocence is all of our responsibility and yet somehow we’ve failed, but there’s still time to make it right. A few days later, the principal called to let me know they would not be changing the roles back to the original design, because there were no boys who could “carry the part.” She then went on to confess that in last year’s Willy Wonka production they had also cast a girl as Willy. This begged the question: why does the school keep choosing plays that have multiple male lead roles? And furthermore, what is this method teaching the boys who did try out? I was told my suggestions would be passed along for next year.

When the phone call was over, my voice in the spirit was hoarse and dry. My cry echoed in the heavens, but was nearly silenced on earth. So, I did what every other wilderness disciple would do … I grabbed hold of my shofar and blew it until I was breathless, my head was spinning, and my lips were vibrating. I wanted God to know that even when it looks like defeat, His victory will forever ring out from the valley of my soul. I’ve seen Him win too many times to expect anything less than triumph in my days ahead.

As I sat still in His presence, He declared John 1:23 over me again and this time I could feel His delight and the heat of His glowing smile. There was something more hidden in that verse that He was beckoning me to discover with Him. I pulled out my Strong’s concordance and looked up the nouns and verbs of the passage and here’s what it speaks to all of us:  God’s very name is a sound that shines and brings forth into the light an appearance of the glory of Christ, which cries loudly for help in an uncultivated place that’s fit for pasturage, for those who will come to steer, like the directing of a ship with urgency to level out right now, a traveler’s way of thinking.

It's just too much. I’ve meditated on this expanded translation for hours and I haven’t even come close to comprehending one syllable of this holy revelation for His voices in the wilderness. My favorite nugget is the way wilderness is described – a place that’s uncultivated, but fit for pasturage. To me, this is an invitation for His shepherds to return to their calling of gathering the lost ones in unkempt and unclean places by showing up and speaking the great name of the Almighty I am. That even in the tangled up mess that would be the last place we’d go to see a harvest crop up, He’s there feeding His sheep where the soil seems unfruitful. And it also symbolizes that nothing is barren and lost or out of the sound range of a blazing, crying heart for the Lord.

I’m praying for these voices in these times and for all the ways they’ll be asked by God to communicate and display His heart to the world. It’s an hour where many human shofars will be sounding off victoriously when the night deceives the audience of our culture. It’s a new day where we follow the footsteps of the wayward sons and daughters to show them the light of Truth and watch as their minds are renewed in the blink of an eye.

The Lord is coming and when He does, in all His glory, may He be ushered in on the cries of His people making straight His paths and reaping an untold harvest of precious souls in the wilderness and beyond.  


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