Making Room (An Apology to the Innkeeper and His Wife)

I believe we all owe an apology to a certain innkeeper and his wife.

At the end of last summer, my son’s family moved in with my husband and me. That sounds like an event that had a beginning and an end. Really, it’s still in process, four months in.

It’s hard making room – in a home, in a life, in a heart. And, I’m learning it gets harder the older I get and more set I am in my own circles and routines and ways.

As we’ve made room for two adults we love and adore along with two teen grandsons who also have captured our hearts, I’ve thought that if one day on the other side, I meet the innkeeper and his wife of Bethlehem fame, I’ll have to apologize.

I’ve judged them pretty harshly all these years. How could they not make room in the inn for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus?

Now, I get it. Making room is hard.

We have things to do. Obligations. Chores. Entertainments. Purchases to make. Homes to upkeep. Hygiene routines. Ministries. Bills. Commitments. Jobs. Marriages. Sheep.

Interruptions absorb time that was already spent. New people require energy already in short supply. Little lives are incredible but draining and we’ve been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt, and moved on into other pursuits.

Creating space for people we love is hard enough. Expanding families are wonderful but they require adjustment and compromise. Making room for strangers – especially difficult or complicated strangers who clearly need things – this requires the work of the Holy Spirit on hardened hearts and rigid routines.

But, making room for Jesus is especially challenging. Even now. Even after walking with Him, loving Him, following Him for sixty-some years.

He’s all grown up now, but still, He likes to wake me up at night to chat. He tends to throw curve balls into my routine and sends bowling balls into my agenda that flies like so many candlepins in all directions.

And, He’s always bringing others with Him into my space. People who need Him. Others who love Him. Some who despise and reject Him so resent me that I don’t.

Accepting Jesus sounds like something we do once and it’s done. I find that year after year, day after day, I’m still learning to make room for Jesus.

Throwing out those things that waste space. Destroying those barriers to Him moving at will about my soul. Laying aside whatever threatens to challenge Him for first place in my day, in my thoughts, in my plans, in my prayers, so that He has all the room in my soul He deserves and that truly, I desire.

So, dear Mr. and Mrs. Innkeeper, I do apologize for thinking you rude that you didn’t drop everything and make room for the Holy family. Clearly, I’d have faced the same challenge and may have struggled to find the compromise of the space in the stable. Kudos for that move. I hope you saw His newborn face and made room for Him in your hearts so one day, we may sit together on the other side.

May we all remember that while making space is hard work, He’s worth any changes or disruptions or rearrangements. He’s worthy of all it requires to make room for Him within.

And as for those He invites to come along with Him into our lives – well, after all, it isn’t good for humans to be alone. It turns out it isn’t closet space or clean floors or quiet time or set routines we need after all.

It’s Him. He’s what we need. Make room for Him within.


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13 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Tammy Breeding says:

    Oh my gosh-if you only knew! We could be living parallel lives! I can say with certainty that I know what you mean.

    Our son, his girlfriend, and their two dogs. We were able to find them a little house at the last minute, but it was close to your scenario, so close!

    I too owe the innkeeper and his wife an apology. Your insights, honesty and courage continue to amaze me.

    Thanks for putting it down on “paper”,
    Signed,
    A fan

  2. Suzanne Montgomery says:

    Thanks Lori!
    Saying yes and making room for Jesus must be a daily decision. I’m always filling up space in my heart with others things. It’s not a ‘one and done’ decision. I find myself inviting Jesus back in over and over because life has squeezed him out.

  3. Deb Kreyssig says:

    As someone just returning from 5 years in the mission field in a foreign country, one thing that really stands out to me is how busy so many Americans are. I ran that same fast paced race for years while working and raising my children! After living a much slower paced life in a culture where there is more time for God and people, I don’t ever want to go back. May the Lord have control of my time each day so I use it in a way that’s pleasing to Him. I don’t ever want to be like the various innkeepers who said to Mary and Joseph, sorry, there’s no room. Look at what they missed out on, the birth of Jesus in their own home! Thanks Lori! This is a great reminder for us all, especially during this busy Christmas season. Are we making room for Him?

  4. Deb Gorman says:

    Lori, this strikes a precious note in my soul. Away back in 2003 or so, our daughter, husband, and 3 small children moved in with us for what turned out to be 4 months. About 1 month in, I was seriously contemplating moving myself to a hotel. However, all I did was move my treadmill to the garage to make room in our guest room for them. I escaped to the garage several times a day. As I walked, I had serious talks with Jesus . . . you know, the kind that start out with, “What are You doing to me, God?”

    After a month of those conversations, guess what? They didn’t move-they were still looking for jobs. But, as usually happens, God changed my heart.

    Now, I look back with gratitude on that time. So many blessings I couldn’t see when I was wrangling with God over it. The most precious to me is getting to watch their youngest, Ben, learn to walk. If they’d stayed in Minnesota, I wouldn’t have that memory. Yes, making room is hard. But He made room for me in His Kingdom, now didn’t He? 🙂

  5. pamela J glover says:

    Lori, an excellent perspective. About 5 years ago, after living with our adult daughter and family, we moved into our own condo. It had been precious, and sometimes irritating. We knew it was time to move on when our granddaughter asked when she’d get her room back.

    My apologies to the innkeepers, too.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We’ve done this too, several times, over the years. (I think they call this the yo-yo stage? Kids in and out of the household for a few seasons.) It is indeed an adjustment, but it gives us new perspectives. And then we became the houseguests in two different households for a time – very cognizant of our different roles.

    Making space in our homes is one thing – but when space in the heart isn’t given, it’s quite painful. The innkeepers hearts seemed to be in a good place – at least they tried to make some accommodation, rather than just slamming the door.

    Thoughtful piece. Thank you.

    • I will say that our decision to ask Zack and family to move in with us was for our mutual benefit. It was the right thing for them and it’s the right thing for us for a number of reasons. We don’t plan to change the situation, although they do plan to build onto the house at some point. We are very happy to all be together!

  7. Nancy Smiyh says:

    Beautiful Lori… There is room in my heart today.

  8. Lisa says:

    Lori
    Thanks for sharing this thought, we now can all relate and look at this with compassion. Thanks for making this lesson come alive!

  9. Carla FEMAT says:

    Lovely! Such a great direction to write and experience this event from. Thank you. It makes me think of the song by Casting Crown , Make Room. In the song he asks do we make room in our hearts for Jesus??

  10. Janna says:

    Such a timely thought for me. We are in TN at the moment, cleaning out and repairing my 92 yr old father’s house in order to put it on the market. We’ve been here a month and a half and will be moving him in with us in NH in 2 weeks time. So much planning and thought and time has gone into this. First, convincing him to come, then adding on a bathroom for him to our existing home and clearing out a room, shutting down our business for 2 months so we could come down here and prepare his house for sale and close out his affairs. Doctor’s appointments, bank accounts, utilities, are only a small list of all that has been on our minds. We have been preparing for a year knowing this was coming. You can see how methodical and organized We’ve been in this process. A pregnant lady about to give birth showing up on our doorstep would definitely throw a kink in all our well laid plans! Lol

  11. Cheri Hardaway says:

    Lori,

    Your posts and your insights never cease to amaze me! Thank you for sharing the way that you do. It is an encouragement to me every time I read one!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
    Cheri

  12. Rob McCullough says:

    So beautiful! A wonderful message to all of our hearts!!!