And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
On the night our Savior came into the world, there was no room for him. I can only imagine how Mary and Joseph must have felt. Tired and dusty from the long trip through Galilee and Judea. Mary, heavy with child, uncomfortable, frightened, knowing with a woman’s intuition that her time was near. Joseph, realizing with dread that they would not make it home in time, and their child would have to be born here, in Bethlehem. This brave couple, so very young and alone, desperately searching for a safe place to give birth, only to be told there was no room at the local inn.
John the Baptist says: “The Kingdom of Heaven is near” … “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Just like that innkeeper in Bethlehem, during this holy season of Advent, we are being asked to make room for Jesus in our lives…in our hearts…and the world.
How will we respond to this request?
If Jesus was literally coming to stay in a room in your house, how would you get that room ready for Him? Over the years, my guest room has become the catch-all place for storing junk. It would take a mighty effort to prepare it for a Divine guest. Clearing away piles of old school papers, out-of-date magazines, and outgrown clothes. Giving it a thorough dusting and vacuuming. Putting crisp, clean linens on the bed. Adding some touches of beauty, like fresh flowers or a nice-smelling candle. I’m not sure how long this would take, but I have a feeling Jesus would be waiting a while!
Having a cluttered and chaotic room like this is kind of a burden. A friend of mine who works with computers once used the following analogy to explain why computers start to operate more slowly over time. Imagine if every time you walked through a room you put down a box. Eventually, the boxes would become so cluttered and piled up, that it would take you a long time to navigate the room. That’s why computers act sluggish when the disk space is filled up.
And so, during this Advent season, I invite you to do some spiritual housekeeping. What are the boxes that are cluttering up your heart, making it difficult for God’s love to navigate? What is the disk space you need to clean out? Perhaps there’s that box labeled “stress” crammed with demanding schedules and never-ending “to do” lists. Or some files filled with the clamor and noise of relentless social media. Maybe another box contains regret over past mistakes or anger over old hurts.
Whatever your personal “clutter” may be, cleaning up is easier than you think. Give every one of those boxes to God. He’s waiting to shoulder the weight.
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Let this Advent season be a time of awareness. Discover the presence of God in all that you do and all that you see. God is everywhere! Look for Him in everything! Clear out the “room” of your heart so it is prepared to receive the overwhelming, awesome, life-changing gift of Jesus Christ. Allow the Prince of Peace to fill you up in a totally new way.
Come, Lord Jesus!