My friend, Jean, had emigrated from Scotland fifty years earlier and still reveled in all things Scottish. When any of us was ill, mourning, or struggling in any way, Jean’s gift was always a prayer and a tin of luscious shortbread cookies.
So this year, as Marge’s world had shrunk, Jean remembered Marge’s comment from last Christmas. “My grandson said your shortbread was the best cookie he’d ever tasted. I’d love to have your recipe so I can make him some.” And Marge’s grandson, serving in Afghanistan, was coming home for Christmas and to see her before she died. So rather than shopping, or singing carols around the neighborhood, or watching Christmas movies, Jean baked shortbread. Then she wrapped it up in bright Christmas paper, tied it with a red bow, addressed the tag to Marge’s grandson, signed the card “Love, Grandma,” and walked it over to Marge’s.
As we walked and talked about Christmas, Jean praised me for teaching a weekly Bible study and said she wished she had some talent or gift God could use. Jaw dropping, I stopped and stared at her five-foot form and then shared my disagreement. Her comment highlights the way many of us have trouble knowing how to convert our beliefs into actions.
We all know that when Jesus was born, Bethlehem was crowded, and with no room available, Joseph and Mary had sought out some humble space to rest.
Whether stable, cave, or what, we don’t know exactly, but Immanuel’s first crib was a manger—a crude feed trough. So in modern times, we often hear the admonition, “Make room for The Christ Child.” But what does that mean, and how do we do that nowadays?
Making Room in our Hearts
Purpose to clear out the junk that may be residing there. Bitterness. Grudges. Sin. Pray and ask for help in identifying areas that need sweeping clean, then give up keeping the trash that needs evicting. If something or someone holds a position of more importance to you than God, that idol needs moving off its pedestal. If God could (and did!) give World War II concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom the ability to forgive a guard who ,years later, apologized and reached to shake her hand, He can sweep clean any filthy areas we retain.
Making Room in our Lives
Christmas season, above all others, seems to ratchet up the busy-ness. It takes much focus and discipline to set proper priorities and limit our activities, expenditures, commitments. Or, it takes the practiced discipline of living in God’s Presence and letting him guide us moment by moment. But then, life can only be lived moment by moment—so why not let Him Who is omniscient guide our steps?
The Christmas season in the United States is celebrated with ever bigger light displays, pageants, music. More and more activity, food, presents. But perhaps making room for The Christ whose birth we celebrate will mean forgoing some parties, avoiding some shopping malls, and collapsing on the floor with a toddler to read a Christmas story. Or spending an afternoon baking Scottish shortbread.