“…She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7, NIV 1984).
Jerry is a busy young Christian doctor in our community with three kids, a wife and a fine reputation. Last week I stopped him in the hall and, after a word of greeting, said to him, “Jerry, you’re looking tired lately; are you all right?” He surprised me with his openness.
“I am tired,” he responded. “The work is busy like always but it seems like I’m doing it alone. I used to feel like I was charging through my day with God at my side, but now I can hardly find Him. Even when I pray, my prayers are interrupted repeatedly by my worries of the day. My work is heavy; my family concerns are heavy; it’s as if Jesus has separated from me and I’m doing life with Him in the distance.”
We know that God will occasionally withdraw the pleasure of His presence from us so that He may work out an important character or spiritual issue in the dark. But most times we feel a distance from the Lord, it’s because we have stepped away from Him rather than the other way around.
James Stewart, named by Preaching Magazine in 1999 as the best preacher in the 20th century, was a Scottish minister who wrote a short but beautiful book entitled The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ. During my first missionary year in Nigeria, Dr. John Tarpley, a colleague in nearby Ogbomosho, gave me a copy to read. I pulled it out recently. In one chapter while speaking of the innkeeper who would not make room for Mary and Joseph, Reverend Stewart compares the innkeeper’s behavior with our own when we do not draw Jesus into our work and life experiences. He describes three attitudes that prevent the innkeeper, and us, from making room for Jesus:
1. “I’m too busy.”
2. “If I let the Christ come in, I will have to let someone else go because my rooms are full.”
3. “This family is poor. My heart is set on rewards that they cannot likely provide.”
Just so, in my life.
Help me to take the steps to reduce my busyness, empty junk-filled rooms and set my heart toward you as my chief treasure.