There’s a scene in my book where Isabel and her family are walking back from town after hearing a group of carolers sing, “Joy to the World”. They have their arms around each other to keep warm and Isabel starts singing, “Joy to the world the Lord is come!” The rest of the family joins in. “Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing.”
Typing the lyrics of this beautiful Christmas carol forced me to consider what it means to prepare him room.
John the Baptist came to warn people to repent and be baptized before the coming of the Lord. And while we all need repentance daily, I think the struggle to prepare room for Jesus is where we live most days.
My pastor often reminds us that we are built to worship and if it’s not God, we’ll still worship something. So, I guess the question is what is taking up room in our hearts?
For me, it’s lots of things. I worship my family, my successes, my stuff. That leaves little room for Jesus. Maybe we don’t need a complete turn around as much as we need a good ‘ol heart "spring cleaning". How do we do this?
1.Get rid of stuff that’s just bad.
Some of the stuff we worship isn’t just "not God", it’s not Godly. Things like addictions, gossip, and grudges. These things take residence in our hearts and like an out of control knick knack collection, they start to take over. You can throw it out, but often a remnant is left behind and it regrows. These things aren’t of God and we may need professional help to get them out. If you’re struggling with an addiction or serious trauma, never be ashamed to ask for help. God will heal you of these things, but he may work through people He’s equipped to help.
2. Get Rid of Dumb Stuff
Think about what fills our day. Some of it is urgent, some important, and some are neither. Those things are taking up room in our hearts too. Things like social media, TV shows, games on our phones, etc. These time-wasters make us feel busy, but they don't add anything to our day. I'm not saying never do these things. Clearly, I'm hoping you'll be on social media to click on my blog and read this. But, we all know when these things are a brief distraction and when they're a problem. Don't allow them to be a problem.
3. Recognize the good stuff is actually God.
A lot of the stuff that takes residence in our hearts is good. It’s family, a wonderful career, or a hobby. God has given these things to us a gifts, but instead of worshipping the giver, we tend to worship the gift. Do you know how harmful it is to our kids when we worship them? They weren’t made to be God, and when we treat them as such they can’t do anything but fail us. This one is hard because it takes a complete change in perspective. When we are thrilled by something our kid does, we should celebrate them and worship the one who made them. I once heard a mother say, “I’m only as happy as my saddest kid.” It was statement that made me stop in my tracks because it’s so true of most moms. My second thought was, “That’s a lot of pressure to put on our kids.” We’re basically saying, “Act happy, because my happiness depends on you.” I’m not saying we should be heartless jerks who don’t empathize with our kids. But I am saying our joy should come from Jesus and His promises and living and dying by our kids ups and downs is worshipping them and not Him. The good things in our lives are only there because God gave them to us. Let’s acknowledge that and worship Him accordingly.
4. Pray for Jesus to transform us.
In case all of this sounds like a self-help book, let me be clear. We cannot prepare Him room on our own. We need to pray and allow God to do the spring cleaning. He will sweep away all the junk and transform our hearts to love him if we allow Him access. It may be painful. It may cost us relationships. It will definitely cost us some pride (which is a good thing to lose). But ultimately, we will have hearts with room for Jesus. Room for his will. Room for his plan for our lives. That’s something that’s worth every cost.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let every heart prepare Him room. And heaven an nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing.