“She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:7 (NIV)
It’s time again, isn’t it? Time for carols and cards, time for furtive gift-wrapping sessions, time for planning those holiday meals. Soon we’ll be wondering where all of our time has gone, when we’re up to our ears in school and Sunday School concerts, cantatas for those who participate in their church choir, work holiday parties, parties thrown by friends and family. Somewhere in the midst of all of these activities we struggle to remember why we’re scrabbling to keep up with all of the demands the season places on us. Sometimes it seems that we’re devoting our time and energy to everything and everyone except ourselves, and we have to settle for what’s left. We tell ourselves that after the holidays life will settle down again and then we’ll have time to catch a spare breath, put our feet up, maybe even take a look at that new book we’ve been so excited to dig into.
I’ve been thinking about the innkeeper in Bethlehem, trying to imagine the stress in his life during those hectic days of the census called by the powers-that-be, distant entities far-removed from the realities of shoehorning thousands of people into a sleepy little town with nowhere near the resources needed to accommodate the sheer numbers of visitors. I can imagine a man reeling with exhaustion, having been on his feet endless hours, managing a hurried meal now and then, probably irritable and wishing everyone would just go away. A young couple appears at his door long after everyone else has settled in for the night, the woman showing signs of impending childbirth, and he asks himself, “What on earth am I supposed to do with these people? What place do I give them here, in this madness that has become my life?” But there is a solution; the stable! It’s private, quiet, and while not four-star accommodations, better than nothing. Certainly good enough for a poor man and his wife. The best I can do under the circumstances.
And I have to look at myself in this light and ask myself the hard questions, and realize that I’m guilty of having the heart of the innkeeper, too. It’s all too easy to become caught in up my life, trying to figure out how I’m going to manage an oil change in the car, make a trip to the grocery store so we can have supper tonight, and wonder exactly when I’m supposed to carve out time to run to the mall to pick up those last few gifts.
I lose sight of the Gift that has already been given, in a dark, chilly stable in that tiny village with no resources for those who had no gold to help ease their way. If I’m to truly look at my own innkeeper’s heart, I must resolve to reconfigure my priorities, those things that are important to me, and strive for a faith that is more than “good enough”, stop saying, “It’s all I can give You right now”, and stop relegating my Savior to the stable and commit to giving Him first place in my life rather than the leftovers.
Being the recipient of so many gifts and blessings in my life, how can I do anything but give him the choicest accommodations in my heart, in my life?
Lord Jesus, help me to really see You. Help me to hear Your voice through the hustle and bustle of the season that is supposed to be about welcoming You into our lives. And help me to ready those chambers in my heart so that I may offer You a shining place to reside within me. Thank You, Lord.