I began 2018 in a plane on the way to Prague

I was on my way to help with a Battle for the Heart event in the Czech Republic. Because of the in country travel we would be doing, I was challenged to fit everything I needed into a carry on suitcase. Seriously? I had several issues with that. First, it’s cold in Prague! Cold weather clothes are bulkier and take up more space. Second, I’m a girl! My makeup, beauty products, hair dryer, etc. are important! Third, it’s a 10 day trip!! How can I possibly fit 10 days of life into such a small space? But the gauntlet had been thrown. I took up the challenge weeding out the things that weren’t absolutely necessary and testing the strength of those suitcase zippers, but I did it! Want to know the secret?

Yoga pants.

That’s right. Yoga pants. They take up way less room than jeans and, let’s face it, don’t you want an excuse to be in yoga pants? I think I owned one pair before, and they were shoved way back in a drawer. Now I own six. Life-changing? That answer is up for debate.

“Why in the world am I reading a blog about yoga pants?”

You may be wondering what yoga pants have to do with anything important. Or if you are a man, you might be thinking, “Why in the world am I reading a blog about yoga pants?” Hang in there with me! This is just one more thing in a longer-than-you-might-think list where God is teaching me about MAKING ROOM – making room for God, for grace, for peace that surpasses all understanding, etc. Recently I have heard multiple sermons and messages with this theme. I have learned to pay attention when themes get repeated in my life. Usually repeated themes indicate that God is trying to tell me something. Since I am often a slow-witted sheep, I and am grateful that my Shepherd has the patience to show me things until I comprehend the message he is sending.

It began with Mary.

We all know the story. Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to register for the census, and there was no room for them in the inn. There was Mary, nine months pregnant and about to burst. Surely the innkeeper felt bad as he noticed her enormous belly and swollen ankles.  He made room for them in the only place available. But, this wasn’t how it was “supposed” to be. She was supposed to be surrounded by the women in her family, caring for her, comforting her, helping her do the most difficult thing she had ever done. Birth is painful, messy and exposing. Yet there she was with only Joseph by her side and a stable full of animals looking on.

Due to the volume of people that had flooded the tiny town, whatever space there was for the animals that accompanied them must have been overrun. And I’m sure that whoever normally cared for the animals…ahem, the pooper-scooper as it were…was probably reassigned to help care for the influx of humans at the inn. It must have smelled horrendous in that place where Mary resigned herself to birth her child.  Far from what she had envisioned for this special occasion…certainly not the scene you would expect for the grand entrance of the One who would save the world. I wonder what she must have been thinking. Had I been in Mary’s shoes, the conversation on my end would have probably gone something like this. “Really God?  Are you sure about this? You really want your son to be born HERE? Surely this can’t be your plan. It makes no sense.” Looking at her circumstances must have caused doubt…had it not been for the promise of God.

As I put myself in the scene picturing what it might have been like, I find myself curling up my nose and grimacing at the stench of the animals. I can visualize little Mary, still a child herself, and I am taken back to when my oldest daughter gave birth. I remember the look in her eyes as she experienced the worst of her labor pains. Imagining how alone and scared Mary must have felt as the pains of labor ripped through her body breaks my heart. I want to hold her hand and tell her it’s going to be ok.

God was making room – making room for the Savior to enter the world.

Making room is often painful.

Making Room is Often Painful | Wellspring Group Blog

God has had to make room in my own life

I am reminded of times when God has had to make room in my own life…for grace, for humility, for love, for more of Himself. It has often involved stinky circumstances, profound pain, and questioning the plan. Why this way? Why does God choose this to be the path for resurrection, life and glory – for Mary? For Jesus?  For me?  For you? God whispers “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). I may not know the answer to the “why?” questions, but what I do know is that God is God and I am not. There is so much of the story that I don’t know. That helps me trust the Author who knew all my days before even one of them came to be.

Packing for the return trip from Prague, I found myself in a dilemma. I had been given gifts of love and gratitude from my new friends and needed to make room in that carry-on suitcase for them. I had already paired down my belongings to those things that were absolutely necessary, so what was I to do now? I wound up leaving behind a really cute scarf I had gotten online for next to nothing and one of my favorite sleepshirts…stained from bleach but so comfortable and familiar. I was reminded that often the things God wants to weed out of our lives are those we hold on to simply because they are attractive or comfortable – things that are actually cheap substitutes or comfort zones that keep us trapped in a smaller story.  God longs to do a new thing and sometimes He needs to make room by getting rid of the old.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Is. 43:19).

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Is. 43:19) Click To Tweet

So as I sit here in my yoga pants writing these words, I am hearing afresh God’s invitation to make room – for the new thing, for hope, for that “more than we can ask or imagine” that Paul refers to in Ephesians 3:20. And I am given courage to step in to a place of surrender and stretching in the midst of painful circumstances.

What has God used in the past to make room in your heart?

 One Step Further:

  • Where is God asking you to make room?
  • What might He be making room for?
  • How will you respond?