It strikes me as sadly ironic – as I’m clearing out my fall decorations to make room for Christmas – that there was no room for them in the inn. We all know the story because we’ve heard it since we were children, how he was born in a manger because there was no room in the inn. Heaven came down to earth and we could find no room for Him? It seems preposterous.
And yet… if God dwells not in buildings made by human hands but in the hearts of His people – how many times have I said the same thing? “No room for you today, Jesus.” No space for the Savior of the world because I’m too cluttered with my plans and agendas and to-do lists, my fears and resentments and pride, my comfort coming before everything else. The floors of this temple are piled high with rubble. The walls hard and unmoving.
“Make room for the King!” This has become my heart’s cry this Christmas season. I think about all the effort I put into preparing my home for Christmas…making everything look beautiful and festive and wintery warm… but what about preparing my heart, God’s dwelling place?
During worship one Sunday I remember the thing the grown-ups would always say at my childhood Baptist church... “It’s good to be in the house of the Lord!” The Sunday School teachers always talked about the church building as “God’s house.” I wondered what He did all week when no one was there. Was He bored in that big, empty house while we were all going about our lives?
I respond to Him on this Sunday morning, “It’s good to be in your house today, Lord.” The words come back to me in my thoughts, “It’s good to be in yours.”… Really? Did He just say that? How can that be? And a new longing is birthed in me with this exchange. A desire to be a pure, uncluttered dwelling place for a holy God. A desire to make room for Him in these innermost parts.
Making room for something usually implies clearing out something else. Before I even start preparing my home for Christmas, I feel the need to clear out everything else. The fall stuff goes in bins and is taken back to the garage. I want to start with a clean slate, so I wash the dishes, declutter the house, dust the shelves, vacuum the floors. To simply layer Christmas on top of everything else would be too much. It would just feel crowded in here.
What rubble needs to be swept away from the floor of my heart to make more room for Him? Is there something taking up too much space that really doesn’t need to be there? I’m pondering these things lately, and I’m making some decisions. Making room for Him this Christmas, for me, is going to mean leaving more margin in my days. I won’t be cramming my schedule & stretching my budget to the limits. I probably won’t say yes to every invitation that comes my way. It’s going to look like fewer presents under the tree because I’ll be spending more of my time enjoying loved ones and sending more of my dollars to those who need more than a new trinket. It’s going to mean there is no room for bitterness or offense because those things crowd Him out like nothing else.
Making room for Him this Christmas, for me, is going to mean leaving more margin in my days.
I sit on my back porch late one night, taking a minute to remember to breathe, to look at the stars, to behold the silence. The chickens are snuggled in a pile in their nighttime nesting spot. This chicken coop is probably not so different from a manger. If the Savior of the World knocked on my door looking for a place to stay, would I send him out to the chicken coop? I don’t think so. I hope I would pull out my finest linens and do my best to create a space fit for a King. But the thing is, He is knocking. Will I make room?
Sweep this temple clean, Lord.
Food for thought: What does it look like this Christmas to make room for the King? To create space for awe and wonder over the God who put on flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood?