“No room!” Place after place, inn after inn, and all with the same reply. Bethlehem was crowded and bustling with people trying to abide by the orders of the census. Mary and Joseph searched everywhere for a place, and yet there was no room. Panic began to rise in Joseph as he knocked on door after door hoping to find someone who would pity this poor young man and his young pregnant wife. His need to protect and provide began to take over about the same time that Mary’s need to settle down and nest could no longer be suppressed. Finally they found someone who was willing to make room for them, not in a house or an inn, but in a barn. Was this really God’s chosen place for His Son to be born or was it a default location? How could a stable and a feeding trough be God’s perfect provision for the Christ child? At that point, it didn’t matter how big or how small the room was. God provided a space in a town with no room, and there was a place and a space for them to abide, even if for a short time.
It sounds so simple and so easy to welcome someone in or to make room for them. However, making room is often a painful process that requires sacrifice. In order to make room for Mary and Joseph, someone would have had to give up their comfortable room. An innkeeper would have to give away a room without being paid. When the angel told Mary that she would become pregnant with a child, it came with much sacrifice and pain. When a woman’s body makes room for another human to grow, it’s a painful process. Not many women describe pregnancy as easy and comfortable. Even my friends who have adopted children have gone through painful waiting processes as they tried to make room for a child, often much longer than nine months.
Making room for Christ in my life is a painful process that requires sacrifice. I remember working in my flower beds in the front of our house. I had these pretty little bachelor button flowers that just grew and grew. They became these big huge bushes of adorable little flowers that took over the garden. They were crowding out the other things that were growing like my mums and tulips, the flowers that would grow year after year. So these perfectly fine flowers had to go; otherwise, the perennials wouldn’t get the sunlight and soil they needed. It just didn’t feel right when I threw those precious little pink and purple flowers on the compost pile, but I knew it had to be done for the long-term plan of the flower bed.
God reminded me that sometimes in order to make room for the things he has for me, other things have to go. At first for me, it was having time to do crafty things, like knit and scrapbook and decorate cakes. As I asked Him about how I was supposed to find time to write and teach, he reminded me that I had time to do everything He called me to do. I began to realize that my precious TV time for my favorite shows became less important as my desire to do his long-term list for me grew. Sometimes the things that go are really good service opportunities at church or for my friends. But when doing those things comes at the cost of a stressed out mom who is mean to her kids, the cost is too great.
This year, I was at a Christy Nockels Christmas concert and the word “room” kept sticking out to me. I remembered the above blog post that I had originally written in 2010. I was reminded again that making room is not easy, but I know that God only needs a little bit of room to be able to work. I was reminded of a time this past summer when I thought my marriage was over. I could not see change; I could not see progress, even the marriage counselor had quit. My parents and my brother asked us to give it one more try. They even offered to pay for us to go see a new counselor, something that would require sacrifice on their part.
Reluctantly, without much hope or faith, but with lots of boundaries, I agreed. I knew that I didn’t want to walk away from my marriage wondering whether we had tried everything. I gave God a small sliver of space to work; I gave my husband one more chance to show up in our marriage. I gave God a little bit of room to show up in a crazy, unpredictable time. Like the first Christmas, this was all God needed to make a miracle. God took the little space in my marriage and turned it into something glorious that only he could do. This Christmas we were all together as a family experiencing a new kind of marriage we never thought possible.
This Christmas I’m also making room in other ways. We’ve decided to sell our house in order to get out of debt and be able to live on less money until my husband finds a new full-time job. We need to make room in our budget and in our lives for whatever God is bringing next. I look back at the things God asked me to sacrifice to make room for him in 2010 like crafting and TV, and those sacrifices seem quite small compared to selling a whole house. But I realize that that is how God begins his work and shows himself to be faithful. He only gives us the next step of obedience. As we make a little bit of room, he shows up in all His glory to do more than we could ever imagine.
So as we go into 2017, how is God asking you to make room for Him in your life? What are you willing to sacrifice? Are you willing to be uncomfortable, in pain or heartbroken in order to make room for Him to do His work? I can tell you this: making room, no matter how big or small, is never easy, but it is always worth it.