The season of Advent takes place over the course of the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas and is all about switching up the routine of the year so that we can make room for the arrival of Jesus. Richard Rohr rightly says that the prayer or the mantra of the Christmas Season is “Come, Lord Jesus” as all of creation awaits the birth of the King, the long-awaited and promised Messiah.
The Messiah - the One the prophets spoke of long ago.
The Messiah - the One who would bring heaven to earth.
The Messiah - the One who would initiate a new way of living.
The Messiah - the One who would make everything as it was always meant to be.
And so as creation waits, it prepares; and as it prepares, it makes room - makes room for something different, something new, something fresh. And so that begs the question, how are you making room for the King during this Advent season?
Because let’s be real for a minute:
There’s no room for the King of love in a life filled with hate.
There’s no room for the King of humility in a life filled with pride.
There’s no room for the King of forgiveness in a life filled with unforgiveness.
And so preparing for Jesus requires us to pick up a broom and sweep out some of the dirt and dust that has collected over the year and create a fresh space for Him to come and dwell and work in our lives and through our lives.
For me, I’m finding that there isn’t much room in my life for the Divine when it’s filled with fear. One of the demons I’ve always fought in my life is the fear of not being good enough, and that’s a fear that has been awakened by the What If Project.
I find my brain constantly asking ...
“What if people don’t like it?”
“What if people don’t respond well?”
“What if nobody listens?”
“What if nobody reads?”
“What if they laugh at me?”
... The What If Project is supposed to ask questions like “what if there are ways of understanding the Bible that are different than the ways in which our traditions have handed us”, but often times (instead) my mind is filled with questions like, “what if they hate it? What if they hate me? What if ...?”
But as those questions bounce around in my heart like a pinball, I realize that it doesn’t leave much room for the King of Peace to come and dwell in my midst and do what He will do in my life, with the What If Project, etc. And so this Advent season, one of the things I’m focusing on is not being afraid because the less room that fear takes up in my heart, the more room there is for Jesus and His peace, His confidence, His strength, His courage.
How about you? What in your life needs to be less so that the King has more room to dwell?
Interestingly, the thing that often makes the most room for Jesus is suffering. Like, the more that suffering is present, the more room Jesus has to be present as well. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but think about it - suffering creates space for the Divine. When things don’t go my way, for instance, and when things push me to look to a Power that is greater than myself, I have no choice but to make room for that Power.
I need it.
I want it.
I long for it.
And so I make room for it, no matter what it takes.
The Gospels tell the story of a Roman Officer whose servant was on his deathbed. Unsure of what to do, the Officer went out to find Jesus. When he found Him the Officer told Jesus of the problem and Jesus offered to come and heal the servant. The Officer was uncomfortable with the idea of Jesus physically coming into his home and so he told Jesus that he believed that because Jesus was a Man of authority that if He would just say the word and give the command (even from miles away), the illness would leave the servant and all would be well.
And that’s exactly what Jesus did - He sent His healing power from afar into the Roman Officer’s home and into the room of the servant so that he was made well.
Here’s the thing:
The sick servant and the worry and fear of his master is what ultimately forced the Officer to leave his home, go find Jesus, and invite His healing power to invade his home and work a miracle. In other words, it was his worry and fear along with the sickness of the servant that ultimately led the Officer to invite Jesus in and create space in his life and home for Jesus’ power to do what only it could do.
And so as we enter this season of Advent, my challenge for you and for myself is to stop trying to escape suffering. I know that sounds hard and simplistic and stupid, but hear me out. When a situation arises that causes us discomfort, the first thing we do is try to fix it.
Make it go away.
Make it better.
Remove the pain.
What if instead of trying to remove the problem, what if we followed in the steps of the Roman Officer? What if we were to leave our place of comfort, bring the problem to Jesus, and ask Him for His help? In other words, what if we allow the pain and suffering and uncontrollable circumstances to create more space in our lives for the King to dwell.?
And notice - when Jesus healed the servant, He didn’t undo what had been done. Right? It’s not like He made it so that the sickness never happened or never took place. He didn’t jump into a time machine, travel back in time, and rewrite history.
His healing power entered into a difficult situation and worked good out of it so that the grim situation although horrible and trying and difficult was nothing but a distant memory.
And so when we bring our troubles to Jesus this Advent season, let’s fight the temptation to simply ask Him to fix it or make it better. Instead, let’s ask for His power to enter the situation and work good out of it, whatever that good may be.
“Come, Lord Jesus.“ Let’s make it our prayer this Advent season.
Much love to you.