If you come into our house today, you might question whether you are amidst hoarders.
Our den has become the holding place for all that was already in the den, plus the laundry room, plus everything that goes in our bedroom…including our bed which is right smack-dab in the middle of all of it. There is no door. I holler down the hallway when I’m changing so the girls won’t accidentally walk in and have images of their post-partum step-mother in their head that should never be.
With the hope of a baby coming, last March, we decided to add a bedroom to our home. It would be finished in June, just in time for me to organize and set things up while I was off for the summer. Plenty of time, I assured myself.
It’s now December. We’re sleeping in the den in the middle of cleaning products, random pieces of piled furniture, an over-sized box of dog bones, and baskets of unfolded laundry. For the past six months, my first-born tendencies toward order and comfort have been stripped away slowly week-by-unfinished-week.
A month before our boy was to be born, I woke up one Saturday morning, overwhelmed that our son would not be coming home to the clean, organized, decorated house I had envisioned. Our space was nowhere near ready for him. There was no nursery set up yet. Instead, he would have to sleep in a rocker next to our bed. In the den with no door. Next to a box of dog bones.
As it was, I already had to climb over stacks of books and laundry to get into my bed. That meant I needed to clear a spot for him…amid the mess.
As my belly kept growing, people continued to ask about his nursery (which still had not even been started), so I’d respond by saying that similarly to Jesus’ birth, there is no room at the inn!
This was just not what I had ever envisioned when bringing a baby into the world.
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
This beautiful verse creates a delicate scene in my mind. Mary, whether by choice or by necessity, didn’t focus on the fact that there were not cozy, ideal conditions for her son. Perhaps she panicked, as I did, when she realized His welcome wouldn’t be how she ‘d envisioned it. I wonder how long it took her to accept what would have to be. As she set her squinky-faced baby in a feeding trough, did she chuckle to herself because she knew she’d tell Him this story for the rest of His life? Though her swaddle probably didn’t include Velcro and the name of a hospital on the front of it, I would guess she smiled as she saw Him settle into the comfort of His snugly wrap, ready for His first milk-induced nap with a look of contentment on His kissable face.
Maybe it was in that moment she realized that those things really didn’t matter. He was finally here. He was hers. That was all that mattered.
I felt the same way on December 7th, when our Mac Martin Huffman was placed on my chest. I heard his first, deep cry, and nothing else mattered. He was here, all 9 pounds 6 ounces of our bright-eyed boy, God’s large and lavish gift to me four years after the loss of my first son. And I couldn’t wait to get him home, to our mess.
For the past two weeks, he has been sleeping soundly in the rocker next to me. In the middle of the night, I change his diaper on our bed, and I usually have to clear a spot amid the pillows, clothes, wipes and diapers, but he doesn’t need a lot of space. We all have exactly what we need. More on that and Mac in another post…
Over and over, I think about how Mary did exactly what God asks us to do during the Christmas season. Despite the circumstances around her, she still made a place for Him. As the classic carol proclaims, He simply wants us to “prepare Him room.”
No matter what our circumstances may be, He doesn’t care. He doesn’t need us to clean everything up for Him. He just wants us to clear a small space for Him in the midst of the mess, the chaos and the questions – to prepare a place for Him right where we are.
No matter what season you are in, my friend, He wants to be invited in. Whether you’re doubting Him, you’re angry at Him, you’re not sure what to think about Him, or you’re overjoyed in Him this Christmas season, can you clear a small space for Him there?
He won’t force His way in, but His birth, which ushered Him willingly from the perfection of a Heavenly kingdom to a lifetime of human pain and a death of suffering, proves He loves us. It proves He is on our side.
He came for us. And for our mess.
So, may we prepare room for Him.
May we arrange, assemble, and make ready a space for Him this season before it is passed.
May we find a time to slow down in the silence, even for a moment, and welcome Him to come into our lives to do what He wants in us this next year.
May we prepare a small spot, cleared in the chaos, to allow Him to whisper His love and care into our hearts and doubts.
As the carol also says, despite the curse of sadness, death, and fear we find here on Earth, He comes to make His blessings flow in the hard things.
We just have to prepare Him room to do it.
Joy to the Word
Joy to the World; The Lord is come;
Let Earth receive her King:
Let every Heart prepare him room,
And Heaven and Nature sing.
Joy to the Earth, The Saviour reigns;
Let Men their Songs employ;
While Fields & Floods, Rocks, Hills & Plains
Repeat the sounding Joy.
No more let Sins and Sorrows grow,
Nor Thorns infest the Ground:
He comes to make his Blessings flow
Far as the Curse is found.
He rules the World with Truth and Grace,
And makes the Nations prove
The Glories of his Righteousness,
And Wonders of his Love.
Merry Christmas, you dear people!