For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16, NIV)
I make room for things that are important to me. I eat two or three meals every day and sleep several hours each night even though my "to do" list is not much shorter today than it was yesterday. I will choose to play with a grandchild over cleaning the house any day of the week. I manage to find a place for that great piece of furniture I don't really need - but really like. After all, it was on sale. I like watches. Don't ask me why because I simply don't know. I only need one watch, but I own several inexpensive ones. I will have lunch with a friend instead of running errands. And there is always room for chocolate! Silly examples - right? I wonder. I wonder what the innkeeper thought as he turned away the young man and his very pregnant wife that holy night so long ago. He had no room - it was that simple. Do we?
The Christmas season is almost here! Our calendars are already full, our bank accounts are closing in on empty and our hearts and lives are crowded with things we deem important, but have we made room for Jesus?
I simply cannot imagine a world without the presence of God and yet I often live my life as if He does not exist. A crisis hits, and I try to handle it on my own. I don't understand the trials in my life while those who could care less about God seem to prosper. Instead of reaching out to Him, I withdraw into the darkness. Financial stress fuels worry. Instead of turning to God, I rely on what I can see and understand. I settle.
When I do cry out to God, He lovingly fills each dark corner with Light. His love flows over the pain like soothing balm and once again, I experience the manger. Once again, Jesus Christ steps into the smelly, unlikely and very ordinary existence that is mine to change everything - absolutely everything!
Jesus could have come to us in many ways. The simplicity of His birth is extraordinary and sometimes hard to grasp. Jesus could have been born in a mansion. He was, after all, a King. Instead, He came to a dirty smelly manger and His birth was announced by common shepherds instead of Kings -- the greatest of all miracles in the midst of total simplicity. Today, Jesus still wants to meet us in the midst of our simple daily lives. It seems too easy and too good to be true, doesn't it?
It was Christmas Eve, and the family was preparing to attend the special service of their local church. Everyone was going except Dad, who was an honest man, a man who could not seem to wrap his logical mind around the story of God come to earth as a baby in a manger. He didn't want to be a hypocrite, pretending to worship a Savior he wasn't sure even existed, so he stayed home, built a fire to dispel the bitter cold of that winter night and began to read the paper, waiting for his family's return. Hearing a knock at the window, he turned to see a tiny bird trying to reach the warmth of the fire. The man opened the window, but the bird refused to come in. Grabbing his coat, the man went out to the barn and opened the barn doors wide - but still, the bird refused to come in. The man thought, "If only I could be a bird, for just one minute, I could lead the bird to safety." At that moment, he heard the church bells ring and finally understood why Jesus came to earth as a man -- to become one of us so He could lead us to eternal safety.
The very heart of Christmas is Emanuel, God with us - with me - and with you. Christmas is not a date on a calendar. Christmas is a way of life that celebrates the presence of God in the simple, ordinary happenings of daily life: where we go and what we do -- the smile we give the harried stranger or the patience we choose in the crowd of impatient shoppers -- the love that prompts the secret gift or the heart that constantly celebrates His birth through every sparkling light, every beautifully wrapped gift, each special meal, every card, phone call and visit. God is with us - if we choose to make room for Him.