“... because there was not room for Him in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
I have never kept an inn, but I do run a household that sometimes feels like an inn. People come and go, mostly my own, with distractions of all sorts always bombarding my heart, soul and mind. I have lists and lists of where I have lists. I keep them in my car, in my bathroom and in my kitchen, not to mention, in my mind. I write lists about things to do, people to call, bills to pay, groceries to buy, notes to send and things to write about. If I am not dealing with a list of responsibilities, my mind is full of thoughts and feelings. Something is always vying for my attention, in one form or another. Bottom line – there just is not a lot of room up in the old noggin’, or at least it seems.
There really isn’t mention of an innkeeper, per say in the bible. We imagine that someone must have let Mary and Joseph know that there was not room for them, probably an innkeeper. The census was drawing people in by the droves. The inn was most likely overcrowded – families reuniting (or fighting), food, music. The inn was too full. Mary and Joseph went out back and the greatest event of all time occurred in a lowly stable.
Why did God tell us that there was no room? What does He want us to learn from this detail? I’ve been pondering this short verse as I have been struggling with distractions today. My guess is that whoever turned Mary and Joseph away didn't even know that Mary was carrying the most precious gift of all.
This is the point that God has impressed on my heart today: The innkeeper, who most likely did not know about Jesus, did not make room for Him, but we do know Jesus and often times we still don’t make room.
God knows that we have the propensity to fill up our lives, not just now, but always, with busyness, thoughts and feelings. Distractions. Things. Stuff (as my 10 year old son would say). Items that divide our attention and prevent us from concentrating. Diversions. Oftentimes, my heart and mind feel as if they do not have room for one more thing – a “no vacancy” sign is ever flashing. It’s not that my intentions are not good – I desire to make room for Jesus -- but there are always the needs of the immediate, and let’s face it, there are lots of them.
Dear reader, perhaps you can relate. Life is full, and well, at Christmas time, it is over-flowing. The reality is that we can be distracted by responsibilities, by pleasures, and even by our pain. Our lists of “things-to-do” can be long, but our thoughts and emotions can be just as consuming, if not more so.
Jesus – Emmanuel – came to reside with us, but we just don’t take the time to make room for Him. “Stuff” gets in the way -- lots of stuff. We need to move some things out or move them over, make room for Jesus and abide with Him. And when we do that, He will help us care for the list of distractions – whatever they may be – responsibilities, pleasures and pain and bring us peace.