What does the manger and our hearts have in common? A lot it seems.
If you have older children, this analogy would make a great jumping off point for a Christmas morning devotional.
The Manger and My Heart
The doors to all the other inns were shut to Mary and Joseph. How many times did I slam the door on the gospel before I accepted Jesus into my heart? How many times did He need to knock on the door of my heart before I would let Him in? “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
Mary and Joseph persisted until they found a place to stay. God was persistent with me because He loves me. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”2 Peter 3:9
God prepared a place for Jesus. The owner of the stable didn’t know it would house the Son of God when he turned over the hay that morning. He didn’t know that God would come to dwell among His people when he poured water into the drinking troughs that day. But God did. He prepared that place for Jesus. That lowly, perfect place. The Holy Spirit prepared my heart in the same way John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:17
The manger was messy. My heart is pretty messy too. It may not be filled with hay, but it is often filled with all sorts of other unsavory things. Jesus didn’t care when He was a baby and He doesn’t care today. Messy hearts and messy lives are his medium. When he molds and shapes them according to His plan, He gets all the glory. “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:30-32
Jesus came into the manger small and later grew into a man. Jesus grows in my heart as I grow in my faith. When I was first saved, He was important, but there was still a lot of “me” in my heart. As I walk this journey with Him, there is less of me and more of Him. I look forward to the day when His presence will be so big that there will be no room left for me at all. “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.” Psalm 119:36
This Christmas season, as we prepare for the celebration of His birth, let’s consider our hearts. Have we “prepared Him room?” Have we allowed the hustle and bustle of the season to crowd Him out? We need to make room for Jesus – no matter how messy our hearts may be.