John the Baptist went through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change
leading to forgiveness of sins, as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet: Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight! Every ditch will be filled in, every bump
smoothed out, the detours straightened out, all the potholes paved over. Everyone will be there to see
the parade of God’s salvation”. (Luke 3: 4 – 6)
My aunt Karen is a professor at a small Christian liberal arts university. She teaches in a special
“bridge” program for students who have academic potential to go on to university but who are lacking
in what educators call “soft skills” – that is, social and emotional intelligence. Karen had previously
taught at-risk students at both the primary and secondary school level, so she knows where kids are
coming from. No one ever taught them basic organisation, time management, or goal-setting. They
need help developing their ability to communicate and apply themselves so they can successfully
navigate the adult world. She says their biggest problem is they often simply have a bad attitude.
One of the first assignments Karen gives her students is positive affirmations. They roll their eyes
every time, she says. She gives them her personal example. She loves to ski, but she’s a careful person
and sometimes the runs scare her a little, especially as she gets older. When she gets off the chair lift,
she doesn’t say to herself, “Gee, I hope I don’t break my legs”. She takes a big breath and says, “I’m
strong and confident!” And she charges with thrilling gusto down the hill.
Her hope is these young adults will learn that the little voice in our head won’t change what we
encounter on the path, but they have tremendous power to prepare us to tackle, with a happy heart,
whatever challenges lie ahead.