I light the green balsam-scented candle on my kitchen island, settle onto the stool at the counter with my graph paper notebook (oh, the appeal of the tidy grids), and begin to make lists for the weeks leading up to Christmas. After the joy-filled, carb-filled days of Thanksgiving, it brings me comfort and joy to turn my attention to planning for Christmas.
But as I try to focus, my mind drifts to the verse I’d just read about Jesus’ birth: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:7, ESV).
No place for Jesus.
I look back at my neatly categorized lists and see, with so many sparkly, festive Christmas traditions and so many gifts to buy and places to be, how easy it would be to fill the days with baking and parties and shopping and unintentionally leave no room for Jesus.
If I’m being honest, I’ve judged the innkeeper and his family in my heart, wondering how they could turn Mary and Joseph away. But that day in Bethlehem, with so many people stretching the town’s seams, I imagine they had full lists of their own. I believe they wanted to have room – they just simply didn’t.
Because they didn’t, we observe one of the most important lessons we can hold from this very first Christmas: Our limited capacity changes none of God’s plans.
In that bustling town with no rooms, Jesus still came.
As I turn to my checklists, I want to write this truth across the top: Jesus comes to the places where we make room.
Sometimes it feels like a race to December 25. But December isn’t a finish line where we find Jesus waiting in a little box that reads “December 25.” In the middle of the rushing and wrapping, Jesus is here. If we invite Him, He’s also in every minute of every gift exchange and grocery run and work meeting and kitchen cleanup.
So in these busy weeks filled with so many good things, how can we be sure to hold room for Jesus? The answer lies in making room in our hearts before we make our lists and fill our calendars. Here are four ways to make room for Jesus this Christmas:
1. Wrap up your perfection.
I mean it. Tie it up with a bow, set it under your tree, and be done. None of us can sustain a Pinterest-perfect family or home or Christmas morning. There will be tantrums. And the stomach flu. And missing Amazon packages. Find beauty in those imperfections. Be kinder to yourself and your loved ones. Exhale and let yourself relax into the real. The magic and wonder of the Christmas season aren’t dependent upon striving and perfection. It’s a comfort that the true gift of Christ-mas arrived amidst imperfection.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14.
2. Reserve a silent night.
Or a silent nap-time. Or a silent car ride to Starbucks. What sitting in silence with Him looks like — what our pause looks like — will be different depending on our personality, our circumstances, and our stage of life. I discovered a game-changer one day years ago when I happened to be in my car alone: I turned off my car radio and drove in utter silence. I didn’t know how tired my ears were from the noise of my three boisterous boys until I turned off the radio and felt relief. My car is still my sanctuary.
Be creative if you’re in a season where it’s hard to get alone time. Find a few minutes during naps or while washing dishes. Consider replacing one of your favorite activities once a week (phone scrolling or Netflix time, for example) with spending time with Jesus. When we pause and listen for Him in silence, the connection we find nourishes our souls. After we’ve been with Jesus, we show up for the rest differently.
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” – Psalm 62:5 ESV
3. Adore Him together.
Because Mary and Joseph were not in a crowded inn, they may have been alone after Jesus’ birth. I like to imagine them holding that babe, taking in the wonder of what just happened. We can do the same with our loved ones. We can pause and take in the wonder of His birth quietly, together, in small moments that connect our hearts. We can read the Old Testament promises leading up to His birth and the gospel accounts of His arrival in our Bibles. We can carve out time to read devotionals with our loved ones. We can spend time around our tables praying and pausing. It’s the simple, quiet moments that draw our hearts to Jesus.
“Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.” – Zechariah 2:13, NLT
4. Plan your pauses.
Practicing this discipline of pausing will serve as an anchor in these busiest weeks. For each week of December, when you plan your errands and work and carpools and appointments, add a new category to your calendar: time to sit with Jesus. We can hold time for Jesus in the same way we hold time for our hair appointments or kitchen cleanups. Predetermine which days, look for windows of time on those days, and decide how many minutes you’ll set aside to pause with Him on your own and/or with your loved ones. Choose where you’ll meet with Him (in your car? at your kitchen table as a family?), and then honor that time just as you would an appointment. He is faithful to quiet us with His love.
“But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” – Habakkuk 2:20 ESV
Just like the inn, our Decembers can be so full that they hold no more room. While we likely don’t mean for it to happen, when we land on December 25, we can discover that it has. But Jesus is here. May we remember He comes where there is room.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20, ESV
- What part of your week or days have the most space to make room for God?
- What can you do to be more intentional about creating pauses before, during or after your day-to-day activities and routines?
- What specific habits or distractions might keep you from pausing?
- Where can you press pause, even once a week, in these days ahead?
- Which of the ideas mentioned above, to hold space for Jesus, fit best in your season of life this Christmas? What kind of pause do you want to integrate into your December?