Mary and Joseph knocked on the door to inn, but there was no room. There was no space. Every inch of the inn was occupied.
“…She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7)
As we prepare for Christmas, we are wise to create room for the greatest gift of Christmas to be delivered. We are wise to make sure we don’t say, “Jesus, I don’t have room for you.” Because, if we fill our mind, our actions and our hearts with other things, we will have a big sign on our hearts that shines “no vacancy.”
This means, we have to slow down, and clear out some internal junk to make room for Jesus. We must open the doors of our soul and say, “Yes, Lord, we have room.” We must look him in the eyes and say, “Let us roll out the red carpet – the VIP treatment – for you Lord!” We must say, “You are the preferred guest in my heart.”
Making room for Jesus means we:
– Pray and ask Jesus to make himself apparent in our hearts.
– Acknowledge to God that we are prone to stray.
– Keep our eyes focused on the word of the Lord.
– Meditate on the story of Christmas and the gift called Jesus
– Repent of any idols we are putting before the Lord.
– Let go of worries, anxieties and busyness to find Christ.
– Find joy in the grace and glory that Christ brings.
Prepare your heart. Make room for the King. He is coming.
Don’t let your heart blink with a no vacancy sign. Don’t turn away the greatest gift ever given. Create room for the arrival of baby Jesus.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft word turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. (NIV)
I scurried into the store and made a bee line for the customer service counter. It was the holiday season and I was in a hurry to find a specific gift.
There was one other lady standing beside the counter and several customer service clerks meandering behind it. When I got to the counter one of the clerks immediately approached me and asked me if she could help. I no sooner got the words, “I wonder if you could tell me where…,” out of my mouth before the woman standing beside me erupted into a soprano sounding hysteria. With sharp staccato inflections, she belted, “Is there something wrong with you? Can’t you see I’ve been waiting and you’re breaking in line? And… you’re taking my help!”
I felt the blood rush to my face and the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I glanced around and saw there was no line and plenty of help available. I have to admit my first reaction was to blast her right back with a big fat piece of my mind. But Someone bigger than me got the better of me. I almost couldn’t believe myself, when I turned to the clerk and asked softly, “Has anyone helped this woman? If not, will you help her?”
Someone bigger than me got the better of me.
Just as the key verse from Proverbs states, the soft words I spoke turned away this woman’s wrath.
What made her act that way? I suppose it could have been the holiday rush, too much to do on her to-do-list, or she might have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, but maybe, just maybe, what I witnessed was her normal.
I say that because thirty years ago she, might have been me. Because on many a day that was my normal.
I grew up in a family of yellers. Yelling doesn’t have to mean being loud. Yelling can refer to the tone of your voice as well. Quick and sharp can sound harsh and brash. I didn’t necessarily like some of the tones played out in my childhood but it was my normal. And you don’t change normal.
But God does.
In my early twenties, it was no coincidence that I married a peacemaker, my polar opposite, a man who could charm the skin off a snake. Needless to say, my often sharp and abrupt approach was a shock to his system. He would say to me, “Christy, the way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.”
The way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.
Those words gradually went from my head to my heart. While raising our two boys, and watching them grow, I was growing too – spiritually. My deepest desire was for my boys to grow up to be godly men with gentle spirits. But whatever children see their parents do in moderation they will do in excess. It was then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart that if I was to be a brighter light I needed to have a softer voice.
Whatever we do in moderation our children will do in excess.
I needed to soften my sharp words and tune up my normal. To make this change I had to do 3 things, admit, commit, and submit.
1. Admit, I was a yeller. I had to admit my approach was often wrong.
2. Commit it to prayer. I couldn’t do this on my own, I needed to ask God for help.
3. Submit to accountability. Finally I had to have a few somebody’s to hold me to it. My boys were more than willing to oblige in that department.
Thanks be to God, He is still at work in me everyday changing me to be more like Him.
Today, I hope all my words will carry the sweet harmony of Jesus, whether it’s to family, friends, the bag boy at the grocery, the girl at the drive-through window, or a hysterical woman in a department store.
What about you? At the end of the day, don’t you want to be someone’s melody rather than their malady?
The words hit me with a palpable force. My pride wanted to take over and convince me that the statement was a lie.
But deep down, I know it was the truth. How long had I been running from God? Months? Years? I couldn’t remember the last time I just rested in the comfort of his presence.
Like so many young adults, my feelings toward the church had become jaded after high school. Leaders who I looked up to had let me down. I’d been hurt by people I trusted, and projected their faults onto a perfect God. I turned my back on Him and the church and for many years, I ran.
Now I had a new baby and a husband, and I knew I needed to somehow get it together. I was trying so hard to behave, to be the perfect wife and mother, but I knew I was failing miserably.
We had recently moved to a new area and begun attending a church, and I attempted to play the role I thought I was supposed to play. I abandoned destructive habits. I watched my mouth. But my heart was still guarded and hurting.
A bitter root had planted itself deep within me, and I didn’t know how to displace it.
As I was sitting on the couch one chilly fall evening, I read those words in the opening chapter of a book about our life’s purpose.
“It’s not about you.”
Something inside of me unlocked. I realized that all of my focus for so many years had been inward, but freedom comes when we fix our eyes upward.
When I turned away from God my focus was on myself. When I strove to behave and be the model church attendee, my focus was on myself. Suddenly, instead of fixating on me, I centered my thoughts on the One who gave me life.
Our sacrifices will never replace what God desires from us the most: a surrendered heart.
James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Humbling myself begins when I say, “God I may not understand everything that’s happened in my life or what you’re doing, but trust you.”
I trust that He is God and that if I love him, he will work it out for my good. (Romans 8:28) I trust that his thoughts are higher than my thoughts and his ways higher than my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)
With a surrendered heart, I see that God is sovereign even in the midst of uncertainty, turmoil and heartbreak. I see that because we live in a fallen world, suffering is inevitable but also a means of growth.
As I focus upward and outward instead of inward, that bitter root begins coming undone, and what was once resentment turns into gratitude.
Is there an area of your life where you’re holding on to bitterness toward God? Can I encourage you to take the following steps?
• Pray. Ask God to give you clarity. We serve a big God and our questions do not scare him away. You may receive answers and you may not, but presenting your requests to him will bring peace.
• Be honest. God already knows your heart. Don’t be afraid to tell him.
• Thank. Thank God for all the blessings in your life. One of the best ways to displace bitterness is with a thankful heart.
• Read. Immerse yourself in God’s word. His Spirit will speak to you and bring you understanding.
Friend, as you read this today, I am praying for you. I believe that God is going to do amazing things through you. There’s only one step left to take: Surrender. Find the Key to Freedom.