Much to my delight, my son has decided to tackle a renovation project in our basement. Our craftsman style house was constructed in 1926 and became our home in 1987. It is a two-story with a half-finished basement. I say half-finished, because multiple attempts have been made throughout the years to redeem the space, but…. well, I’ll save you the details; life gets busy and we never seem to be able to finish the other half.
In order to begin the tedious job, we have discussed the actual use of the new space. Do we need to build more storage closets and shelves to organize our stuff, or heaven forbid, do we get rid of the stuff that requires so much of our time and energy to organize? Could it be we could make the mistake of building storage to make room for garbage?
Oh, I cling tightly to a lot of it. Despite warnings to discard old car seats for children, I hesitate to jam my son’s old car seat into the garbage along with all the other bits and chunks of junk that are occupying so much of my home. I cling, thinking someday, I may need it and I will rue the day I was ever so ruthless.
While sorting and sweeping, I’ve been humming one of my favorite Christmas songs: “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne.”
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.
(The version I have in my head from childhood is sung by George Beverly Shea)
A young pastor spoke at our church last Sunday and he was not only eloquent, his message carried a freshness with it, much like a peppermint mist diffusing over the heads of the weary congregation. In his enthusiasm, he challenged us to consider a resolution I had never considered before. (I usually resolve not to make resolutions.) “This year,” he suggested, “try making room for more joy in your life.” Hmm… that sounds wonderful, but how exactly does one accomplish that? After all, there are so many reasons to be….sad. As a Christian, I hate to admit it, but there are times my heart is filled with despair and there is no room in my heart for joy. He obviously knew the secret, for the young pastor fairly glowed with joy.
The very next day, my faithful God answered the question that was only floating around in my head… How do I make room for joy? Before heading to the basement to clear the way for my son to start the renovation, I treated myself to the Dec. 24th reading in Mary Tileston’s book, “Joy and Strength,” and it shed light on what needs to happen in my life.
All that God desires is to give you His great love, so that it may dwell in you, and be the principle of your life and service: and all that withstands God’s desire and His gift is the want of room for it, and for its free movement, when that room is taken up with yourselves and your little personal interests. (Dec.24, William Bernard Ullathorne)
By rooting out our selfish desires, even when they appear to touch no one but ourselves, we are preparing a chamber of the soul where the Divine Presence may dwell. (Dec. 24, Ellen Watson)
The bags are full. They are dusty and ugly, bulging with what I thought needed to be saved–hoarded. The feelings I hoard in my heart–the selfish ones: the pride, the grudges, the judgemental attitudes, and the fearful ones–lack of trust in God and His provisions…all of them are just as ugly and space wasting as bags of junk so why is it so hard to get rid of them? Why do I frequently dust them off, open them up and rifle through their contents? Why do I make room for them and not for joy?
Oh Lord, I need your help to make room.
Take the junk out of my heart and don’t let me keep bringing it back.
Thank you for coming and even wanting to live in my heart.
Make yourself at home and fill me with so much of You, there’s no room
for anything else.