No room for them in the inn...a phrase taken from the Christmas story account found in Luke Chapter 2:7. That phrase, “no room for them in the inn,” stood out to me this Christmas season for some reason. I guess, when I thought about it a little, I expected more from God. I mean, here is the God of the entire universe sending His Son to this planet, knowing what was going to happen to him when he grew up. God must have known that Jesus would grow up to be rejected by humanity and hung on a cross, to die for the sins of all who would believe. You would have thought that by knowing this the God of the Universe could have at least gotten him a room.
I guess it figures that most of us don’t have any room for God or His Son, so I shouldn’t be surprised by the subtle poetic drama that occurred when Jesus arrived on Earth. But, as true as that platitude sounds, before I gag on the trite symbolism, I want to quickly move on.
As I think about the phrase a little more, I am struck by a much deeper truth. To be clear, it is not a deeper truth because I am a deep person, or because I have some special insight. This simple truth I discovered is only deeper for me because it cuts into a deeper flaw at the core of my character. A flaw that wraps God around me and my desires. How many times do I get upset when traffic doesn’t go my way, when my ideas are rejected at work, when I can’t buy something when I want to buy it, when I can’t do what I want when I want to do it, when the line I am standing in takes longer than the line the guy next to me is standing in, when I have to wait for a table, when I don’t get the seat I want on a plane or at an event, or even at church…Oh Lord…the list goes on.
I guess we all want the best seats, we all want to be on the VIP list. You would think, with his connections, if anyone would be on that list, the Son of the Most High God would be. That’s when it hit me. Make no mistake, the God of the Universe could have easily secured a room for Jesus, but I am so glad he did not. The whole Cosmos is filled with shiny stars that continue to shoot forth beams of self importance. I spend way more time than I have the courage to admit striving to be one of those shiny stars.
Thank God, He doesn’t think that way. In my infantile mind, I imagine God planning the introduction of Jesus into humanity with great intentionality, no detail left to chance. I imagine God setting the scene…a great census, a crowded town filled with visitors streaming in from far and wide; rich and poor, great and small, old and young, sick and well all coming into town to register for the Census. I am sure that Jesus, Joseph and Mary were not the only family who couldn’t get a room that night. Who knows, there may have been others staying in the stall next to them or even outside whatever the meager shelter it was that housed the feeding trough he slept in during his first night on earth.
The point is, with all the power and glory at His disposal, God chose for his extraordinary Son to live an ordinary life. No platinum, “Son of God” card to pull out in a pinch when things didn’t go his way. No VIP list to help him get him the right connections of power and influence. No frequent flyer miles to get him bumped up to first class. Just the blue collar promise of hard work, a sore back and callused hands. Jesus stood in line like everyone else.
I guess that is what is so convicting and yet inspiring for me this Christmas. Jesus is the Son of the Most High God, but he lived with the same ordinary struggles of futility that all people face everyday…and he did it from the day he was born. I have to believe that when Jesus was faced with the same petty challenges that I am faced with everyday, he them with much more love and grace that I do.
With that in mind, I pray… God…please help me remember the “legacy of the ordinary” that you brought to Earth through your Son. Change my heart with this truth God…so that in the midst of the ordinary challenges that bring out the worst in me, your extraordinary love would flow freely.
Thank you dear God…for just the way you brought Jesus into this world. He could have entered in glory and power, overwhelming us with wonder and awe. Instead you chosen to inspire us with amazing love and good will. I pray that the love that you have intended to pour out on our world through Jesus would continue to grow and change my heart. Not just my heart, but the hearts of more and more people. So that we too can pour out extraordinary love; even in the ordinary moments of our lives.