04 Dec Prepare him room
We’ve been moving out of my parents’ house and into our new home over the last three weeks and we are so thrilled to have our own space. However, as every adult knows, moving is not for the faint of heart. Moving reveals the unsearchable depths of my sinful heart (or, as my toddler likes to say, “Mama, why you such a cranky lady?” I hate moving with a particular passion on the best of days, but this time around I’m nearly seven months pregnant with a 2 ½ year old, and it’s not pretty. I’m doing the best I can, but there’s certainly room for improvement.
Aside from some serious examination of my character failings and foibles, this move has me contemplating the title of my favorite Christmas song, Prepare Him Room, by Sovereign Grace Music.
Prepare him room.
This is the perfect phrase for Advent, a season of waiting, a season of hope. Each year, during the month of December, we have the special opportunity to prepare our hearts for Christ to enter. We approach this season of waiting with eager expectation, our hearts full of longing, for our redemption is near. “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:25). Like Simeon, each Advent we have the sacred occasion to meditate on the consolation of Israel, the gift of God’s own son.
When we moved across the country, we got rid of lots of junk and plenty of things that just weren’t worth storing for more than a year. I was, however, mystified as to what I was thinking when I packed up our kitchen because I didn’t save any measuring spoons or cups, yet I thought it was a good idea to ship eight opened boxes of tea across the country? Like I said, moving messes with you.
With significantly less junk in our lives and a larger home in California (our house in DC was a shoebox), our house feels a little bit empty in the very best way. We have empty shelves in closets, open cabinets in the kitchen, and a garage with room. We had barely any furniture for the first few weeks, which made for an excellent racetrack around the house to play “chase” with my daughter. I also realized how very little we needed to make a home—paper towels, toilet paper, clean sheets, a bed, and a Home Depot bucket as a trash can. So simple.
Nearly empty houses are peaceful and refreshing because there’s room. Room to build a fort. Room to host a bunch of kids for a playdate, room to move things around and change your mind, room to grow. In a page layout, the blank space is critically important to make the words on the page stand out for the reader. Without blank space, things become muddied and complicated, difficult to decipher.
The holiday season often feels like that, muddy and complicated, an endless stream of rushing to events, scrambling to think of clever gifts, and making merry with a hollow cheerfulness.
Might I encourage you, dear friends, to resist the chaos and noise this year and instead choose to prepare him room? Not every single celebration or get-together must occur in the month of December. All of those same people will still be in your lives in January, and they’ll probably be recovering from major holiday letdown, so it might be nice for you to plan something with them in the new year.
Prepare your hearts for the gift of Christmas as it was intended to be celebrated.
Prepare him room, prepare him room, let the King of Glory enter in…
It would not be Christmas if I failed to leave you with my favorite Advent meditation, a Christmas greeting written by Italian friar and painter Giovanni da Fiesole (Fra Angelico) 1387-1455.
I salute you. I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not already, but there is much, very much, which though I cannot give, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this precious little instant. Take peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and courage in the darkness could we but see; and to see, we have only to look.
Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their coverings, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love and wisdom and power. Welcome it, greet it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence.
Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts. Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage, then, to claim it, that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims winding through an unknown country on our way home.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greeting, but with profound esteem now and forever.
The day breaks and the shadows flee away.