Every Christmas, when my family is on the way home from an event in town, there is the option to take a left turn into a neighborhood. In that neighborhood is a house that rivals any Christmas lighting display I have ever seen. It is grand and spectacular. The trees in this yard are littered with lights. The house is covered with lights. The grass, the driveway, the steps, every single component of this domicile is filled with a marvelous display of Christmas decorations and lights. There are metal trusses crossing the yard, and other exterior structures that heighten and lend to the grandiose nature of the scene. All of the lights are timed and in sync, and a sign directs you to a particularly station that plays Christmas music for the background and dancing show of lights. The owners of this property begin decorating mid to late Summer. It takes that long to prepare.
Every year, particularly when my kids were younger, they would scream and cry out, “Let’s go by the house with the lights! Make the left turn!” Still today, my youngest son Baylon cries out for the trip and the turn. Every now and then, my older boys will break free from their teen shell of coolness and cry out for the turn to see the lights as well. It has become a tradition.
The left turn crosses oncoming traffic. On the way out of the neighborhood, you must make another left turn across two lanes of traffic. The turn requires skill and attention. The trip requires effort. I will confess there are some moments where I have considered refusing the turn and the trip out of expedience, desiring to claim busyness or fatigue as an excuse. But every time I’ve made the turn, I’ve never regretted the experience, and I’ve always been glad that I made the effort. It has always been worth it. As a result, I have never refused it and always held the door open.
The Bible tells us in Luke 2:6-7, “While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby (Jesus), and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough.”
When it comes to the story of the birth of Jesus, we get very little information about the Innkeeper. But he always has a place in most Nativity recreations at Christmas. We really don’t even know if there was an Innkeeper. We generally assume there was an Innkeeper, and it’s likely there was one. When the little town of Bethlehem became a metropolis for hustle and bustle due to a census, the “Inn” business had to be booming, with so many arriving in town. As a result, there was money to be made. No one would have left their Inn unattended. So someone had to tell Mary and Joseph there was no room left. Hence, we get the Innkeeper. While we get little to no information about him, what we do know is that he turned Mary and Joseph away. He told them there was no room. He refused to open the door or make the turn.
The Bible tells us there was no room, but let’s be real for a moment. There was a young expectant mother who was about to have a baby, and she was desperate. Wouldn’t you make room for a mother-to-be? Maybe it was too late. Maybe he was too tired. Maybe it would have required too much work. Maybe a pregnant woman giving birth to a baby in the middle of the night would have been quite unsettling to all the other guests at the Inn, causing a backlash the Innkeeper just as soon not deal with in any way, shape, or form. Perhaps they had no money to offer him. Perhaps there was nothing to be gained for the trouble.
If only someone would have clued the Innkeeper in to the fact that this child was the King of kings and Lord of lords, the One who had come to die and be raised to life for his salvation, odds are very high there would have all of a sudden been room. But Isaiah 53 reminds us that Jesus came and there was “nothing to attract us to him…there was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance.” No fanfare, no majestic announcement, only a subtle knock, but as a result, it produced no effort on the part of the Innkeeper. The knock was subtle, without pomp and circumstance, but behind it was an incredible opportunity. The Innkeeper refused the opportunity, and he missed out on something he needed more than the path of least resistance. There are many who still choose the path of least resistance, and they miss the opportunity as well.
Thanksgiving is here. It should not be forgotten, nor overlooked. It should be held, applauded, and observed with every fiber of our being. We never go wrong in taking the time to be thankful. Thanksgiving is also the perfect platform to usher in arguably the most wonderful time of the year…Christmas.
From an eternal perspective, December is no more special than June, particularly when you carry Jesus in your heart all year long. But the reason I love Christmas so much is because it seems as though the rest of the world is more open to opportunity, to opening doors, and making left turns. As a result, though they are present and available all year long, things like joy, wonder, and awe seem to come to the forefront in December. But just as they were for the Innkeeper, all of these things will be a choice.
Jesus said in Revelation 3, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in.” It’s interesting to me that the first door Jesus ever knocked on in this world, even while He was still in the womb, was shut in his face. Since then, millions upon millions of people have made a choice to open the door, and they have not regretted it. I am one of them.
Over the next several weeks, Christmas will call upon our hearts and march into our lives. Christmas is busy. Life is busy. There will be parties, family gatherings, shopping, events and programs. We will be tired and overwhelmed at times. There will even be depression, anxiety, and grief for some. Don’t let the moments overwhelm you. Embrace them. Behind every moment that threatens to overwhelm or stress us, there is a gentle Savior, knocking, waiting for an opportunity. He is gentle, He will not force Himself upon you. You will have to make the effort to step out of the traffic. You will have to choose the wonder. You will have to make the left turn. You may have to cross oncoming traffic, but the effort will be worth it, and you won’t regret it.
Take the left turn, drive by the lights, walk through the mall, attend Christmas In The City, make the effort to show up for worship, breathe it all in. He is knocking, there are incredible opportunities to be had. Prepare yourself, make room, take the left turn. You won’t regret it. That thing you thought you couldn’t muster up the strength to do or had time to do, could just be holding the one thing you need most. Make room.