Thus far in this season of Advent, we have asked God to plant within us seeds of anticipation for His coming, and we have turned to Him in a spirit of repentance. This week we will continue in an attitude of expectation and repentance while turning our attention to the idea of preparation.
In Luke 2:7 we read that Mary had to give birth in a manger because there was no room in the inn. The lesson we typically draw from this passage is that we don’t want to be the bad guy like the innkeeper that didn’t make room for Jesus. In all fairness, had he known the mother of the Messiah might be stopping by to give birth, he likely would have reserved the nicest room in the place, complete with free breakfast in bed and internet access. All he knew was that a very tired, very pregnant woman needed a place to have her baby. I wonder if a small voice within perhaps told him, “Let them come into your home”? Whatever the case, he offered the best he could muster…his stable.
Two thousand years later, we still struggle with preparation, with making room. Unlike the innkeeper, we have the advantage of knowing it is the Messiah who is asking us to make room. Like the innkeeper, we can invite Him in…or not.
Think about the words of C.S. Lewis.
Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and
so much of your money and so much of your work:
I want You…Hand over the whole natural self,
all the desires which you think innocent
as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit.
I will give you a new self instead.
In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
One way we make room for Christ is through fasting. Believers throughout history have practiced fasting during Advent as a way to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Certainly fasting connects us with the most basic of desires—to feed our flesh. By saying ‘no’ to food, or to some other elemental desire, for a time, we are reminded of our deeper hunger for God.
Times of solitude also help us prepare to receive the Lord. When we set aside time alone with God to pray, meditate on His Word, enjoy His creation, we make space for important heart transformation that simply can’t take place while we are rushing about in “production” mode. We are freed from competing loyalties and give our time and attention to God alone in solitude.
As we walk in a spirit of preparation this week, let us remember that Christ Himself is the reward for our preparation. He gives us Himself as we make room for Him and give Him ourselves.
Reflect on the following scripture passages throughout the coming week. Ask the Lord to prepare your heart for His coming. Consider the ways you can make room for Him.
Prepare our hearts to receive you.
Remove every obstacle that would hinder us
From fully embracing all that you are and
From joyfully surrendering everything to you.
Give us the courage to make space for you,
Trusting that as we withdraw from activity and productivity,
The workings of the world are in your hands, not ours.