Waiting on a Child

My family and I are getting to spend this Advent season of waiting on a child in a peculiarly special way: by literally waiting on a child. Arielle is full-term pregnant with our second child--a boy this time. That's right. Unto us a child will be born! Any day now. As much as we try to go about life as normal until "it's time," there's a beautiful distraction hanging over us. What if today's the day? What if today is the day I get to meet my son? Is everything ready for him to come? Pretty frequently everything else--even the important and urgent--is pushed out of my mind to make room for questions like these. Can you even imagine the weight of distraction Mary & Joseph must have been under? They must have had so many questions to keep them company on the ride to Bethlehem.

picture5When I think of the utter lack of hospitality the holy parents found when they arrived, I get a bit peeved. No room in the inn? No room anywhere? Really? Nothing? Not a single spare room? No compassionate soul--no fellow mothers--willing to offer even a couch? But then again, how do you make room for a king in such circumstances? Even the finest suite in David's town would've been inadequate for God-in-the-flesh. Yet, from what little I know of God, I bet the backwoods haystack was actually his top choice. How do you make a place for a God like that? A God who comes not just for a visit to accept the occasional sacrifice, but to live among us? Where do you put a king who won't stay on his throne? It's hard to make room for Jesus for two reasons. First, nothing is adequate for the maker of the universe.

Second--and far more uncomfortable--is that no matter what accommodations you do make for Jesus, he never seems to be satisfied with it. I can make up the most comfortable bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, but Jesus is the kind of Emmanuel who marches right past the bed--straight to the closet where I keep all the stuff I try to hide from him. "This is perfect," he says. "I'll stay in here."

In the meantime, while we wait for the arrival of a son, my family makes room. Having a baby means preparing the house and rearranging our schedules and our budget. Plus, we have a toddler so we know it doesn't take long before children start getting into everything. In regards to waiting for Jesus, yuletide tunes sung this time of year remind "every heart" to "prepare him room." But be careful when you let him in there because he won't stay in your heart any longer than he stayed in the stable. Like every baby eventually does, Jesus grew up and starting getting into everything: long-standing traditions, closely-held religious beliefs, social norms, personal secrets. He got into all of it even though no one invited him in. Our hearts are just the manger. Jesus will want our schedules, our secrets, our dreams. He may even literally ask for a room (Matt. 23:35).

Just as having another baby changes everything for Arielle and me, the coming of the Christ Child means that sooner or later, Jesus will be getting into all the things we would rather him leave alone. Even though it will be neither adequate or satisfying to him, there is only one thing to do for Jesus. We make him room.