Last weekend, my husband and I took our oldest daughter to visit Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky (but that’s another blogpost entirely!). Before we left, we stopped by the campus bookstore and I purchased a devotional book, This Day with the Master, written by Dr. Dennis Kinlaw. He was president of Asbury (then) College many years ago when Jeff was attending Seminary across the street, and Jeff has often mentioned the influence he had on him both personally and spiritually, so I figured it would be a good buy. I have not been disappointed!
As we begin the Advent season, I thought I’d share some thoughts from my prayer journal yesterday, inspired by the December 5 entry in this book. The Scripture reading was 2 Chronicles Chapter 30, in which King Hezekiah decided to honor God by inviting all the scattered people of Israel to celebrate the Passover Feast in the temple of Jerusalem even though they were a month late. This is the part that really stood out to me:
“Since many of the people had not purified (or prepared) themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover Lamb for them, to set them apart for the Lord…” But King Hezekiah prayed for them and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the Law. He said, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God— the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary. And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” (2 Chronicles 30:17-20, partially paraphrased)
What a beautiful passage, Lord! Your people turning back to You and You receiving them, “even though they were not properly cleansed.” The motives of their hearts were pure and that was enough for You to accept the sacrifice made on their behalf. A gift of grace before the coming of the greatest Gift of Grace!
Dr. Kinlaw’s devotion uses this passage to talk about the importance of “Holy Moments” which change lives— and the world— forever. This passage is a reminder of how preparing our hearts before our recurring holy moments can make them even more impactful. When I go on a trip or host a party, there is so much involved in the preparation: planning, organizing, cleaning, packing, decorating, etc.
How little I prepare for spiritual moments compared to how much I prepare for everything else!
Forgive me, Lord.
How can I prepare my heart to receive You in a new way this Christmas?
First, I need to make room for You in the “Inn.” Not cast you off into the leftover rooms, but clear out space for You so You have the place of honor in my life. Practically, this means making my time with You each day a top priority— getting up earlier if necessary, allowing enough time to really listen to You, choosing this time with You over other things. And not just “having God Time,” but coming expectantly, ready to see You and hear You and learn from Your Word. With our crazy schedule and chaotic life, this is more of a challenge than I would like it to be! But I know that is where my preparation begins.
It also may require some cleaning up and decluttering of my heart, mind, and schedule.
Lord, help me get rid of the things I store inside that really don’t belong there, things that just take up space and distract me from what matters. Some of these things are harmful—bitterness, unforgiveness, discontentment. Most, however, are simply “good” clutter that must be intentionally removed if I want to make room for the coming of the Christ Child.
Oh, what peace is ushered in with the creation of holy space!
As I prepare my heart to receive You this Christmas, my heart sings out, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!” God with us.
GOD… with us.
God WITH us.
God with… US.
Please come, Lord Jesus! My heart is waiting.
Let every heart prepare Him room…