Preparing for Christmas, Part 2: It Feels Awful

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king; let every heart prepare him room..." We sing this every Christmas, but what exactly does it feel like to prepare room in your heart for Jesus? It can feel awful. Let me explain.

A number of years ago, our family got the chance to take prized antiques from a relative’s home. Only one problem: he was a pathological hoarder. When we opened up the house, we had to step up onto four feet of compacted trash. Soon we found ourselves walking on top of the dining room table to maneuver around. It was one of the most disgusting and eerie sights I have ever witnessed. To get at the furniture required a massive excavation project to remove decades of trash.

This is the best visual I know for the human heart. We are all pathological hoarders, stuffing our hearts with the trash of our self-chosen idols and addictions. What we need is not just a little spring cleaning; we need a complete renovation.

Seen this way, preparing room for Jesus in our hearts is no longer just a nice Christmas sentiment. It is the battle cry for freedom. It means asking God to shovel the refuse out, all of it. But we have to do our part: letting go of those idols, as best we can, and sit in the darkness that creates. There we will meet the pain our idols have covered over, and there God will meet us in ways we cannot predict or control. I had my own experience of this recently.

God confronted my own ongoing addiction to food and exercise one afternoon as I was straining through a hard workout on the bike. I sensed him saying, “I want you to give up these hard workouts for two months.” My first response: NO, I’m not doing that. It really was! I needed those workouts to manage my life and my eating, or so I thought. But after a couple of days of resistance I gave in and let them go. And the sitting in the dark began for me, one of surfacing confusion over present struggles and grief over past memories.

But this is where God loves to meet us, and He has for me. All I can say is that the past two months have been filled with extraordinary breakthroughs in my heart and insights into this ministry. I am stunned at what is happening inside of me, all because I chose to let go of a bike workout.

So this Christmas, prepare your heart for Jesus by letting go of something.

What you receive back may stun you.