Making Room for HIM: Last Days of Advent
By James Franke
In eight days I will find myself on a plane, like millions of other Americans, traveling home to be with family for Christmas. As my trip approaches, I have been going over a mental checklist of preparations that need to be done both before I go and for the actual journey home. Finish up my work in the office, catch up and get ahead on e-mails, phone calls, meetings, etc, pack for the few days I will spend back in the arctic tundra of Upstate New York, grab my passport, get gifts together… the list goes on and on.
With so little time and so much to do, this list of mine follows me everywhere. It tags along to the movies, sits by my side as I eat lunch, and even manages to make it’s way into the chapel when I have my daily prayer time. I am normally frustrated when I cannot seem to quiet my mind and surrender it over to the Lord when I am with Him, however this week God used my distractions to speak directly to my heart, about my heart.
“What about your heart?” This was the question God asked me as I was mulling over my long list of to-do’s during my recent prayer. “Have you prepared it?” I realized that I hadn’t. For weeks I had been preparing, preparing for home, preparing to be away from work, preparing to travel… but not preparing my heart. I had been neglecting what should have been my first priority during this Advent, this season of waiting and preparing.
Jesus is coming back and he wants in. He wants into our hearts in a new way. Jesus desires that this time of Advent is not only a time of eager anticipation, awaiting the celebration of Christmas, but a time of diligent preparation. Jesus is always saying “more”, especially during this special and holy time of year. He is saying that He wants more of us, more from us, and that He has more for us. This last week of Advent is our chance to give into the “more” of Jesus. If we have not given Him more of us, we can go before Him and lay it down, the burdens, the sufferings, the joys, and the blessings. If He has not received more from us, this week is to be a week spent in prayer and service to others. Seek after God like never before! Attend Mass as often as possible between now and Christmas day, go to confession, reach out in service especially to the poor and lonely.
[pullquote1 align=”right” variation=”blue”]What about your heart, have you prepared it?[/pullquote1]The more that He has for us is coming. It is not a question about “if” it will come, but instead “if” we will be ready to receive it. Unlike the gifts that many of us will open up on Christmas morning, the gift that Jesus will be bringing for each and every one of us is not a gift to be placed into our empty and awaiting hands, but instead into our cleaned out and awaiting hearts. Jesus is coming back, grace is once again being robed in flesh, God is again bowing down to be Emmanuel, God with us. On that first Christmas Eve, His first coming, no room was given, no preparations had been made, yet He came. Two thousand years later, we stand at the steps of the Incarnation, the holiest event in all of human history, and we see our King approaching. He is looking for a home, he is looking for a heart. Is your heart crowded? Is it full of other thoughts, concerns, desires? The answer for most of us is yes. The solution is to buckle down and clean house. One week to get rid of everything “else” that is taking up space, to toss out everything in our hearts that is not of Him, so that when He comes, He is walking up to a door that is open, and to a home, a heart, that has been cleaned out and prepared for Him. It is in the prepared heart that He will stay, it is in the prepared heart that He will have the room He needs to flood us with His love, with His grace, with His new life.
“What about your heart, have you prepared it?” My list of to-do’s before heading home remains with me and it will surely take time to wrap up everything that needs to be done. However that list now has a new number one, a new first and most important priority. One week to prepare, not for a plane, not for cold weather, not for gifts under a tree, but for the coming of my Lord and King, of my Savior and my God into my heart, into His home.
God bless and Happy Advent! May God bless you, your family, friends, and loved ones during this Christmas season!
By James Franke