Little Jim was known for two things: his slow mind and his tender heart. When the time came for the church Christmas pageant, his Sunday School teacher cast him as the innkeeper. Although he only had one line, someone in the front row sat ready to help in case he forgot it. He had spent weeks whispering it to himself:
“No room in the inn.”
His moment to shine came when Joseph and a very pregnant Mary hobbled across the stage. They stood tall and delivered their lines perfectly. “We are looking for a place to spend the night.” Proudly, Jim remembered his line:
“There’s no room in the inn.”
But Joseph did not give in so easily. He begged and pleaded and Jim was moved. He looked at his prompter, suddenly unsure of himself, but obediently repeated his message: “There’s no room in the inn.” Joseph pleaded more ardently and this time Jim’s eyes filled with tears. He looked at his prompter once more, hoping for a different line. With trembling lips and a shaky voice, he whispered,
“No room in the inn.”
As Joseph argued, Jim’s resolve continued to weaken. Ultimately, however, he made the pageant director proud as he held fast to his single line. Finally, as Joseph and Mary turned to leave, Jim’s compassionate heart could take no more.
“Wait, Mary!” he cried out, to the director’s chagrin. “You can have my room!”
How different Bethlehem might have been if Jim had indeed been the innkeeper. Two thousand years later, as innkeepers of our own hearts, we often open our doors to things that clamor loudly but ultimately have little value. Sadly, our lives can become so cluttered with debris that even as Jesus knocks, we only wish we had room.
Neither Hollywood nor Broadway would ever come calling for an actor like Jim, but our world is in desperate need of others like him. As we move into this Christmas season and beyond, may we learn the art of welcoming in the things that truly matter in life.
There is something unnerving about a waiting room. No matter how comfortable the seats, how trendy the décor, or how fabulous the magazines, our attention is always focused on the door that will lead us into the purpose of our visit.
The people of Judah found themselves in a millenia-long waiting room. God had told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations but Abraham had to wait until old age before his son was born. God told Moses that he would be a great deliverer but Moses spent eighty years waiting for the chance. God told David that he would be a powerful king but he had to fight a number difficult battles before it was possible. When God’s chosen people fell captive to the empires of the age, He raised up prophets with yet another promise: I will send you a Messiah.
Their time in the waiting room would end with the opening of a door they never saw coming: a baby born in a little town called Bethlehem.
Their waiting room time, while long, served a purpose. Judah had struggled with faithfulness to God but it was in their waiting room that they committed fully and completely. They developed a system to educate their children and established synagogues – the very places that would eventually be used to spread the gospel of the long-awaited Messiah.
Waiting rooms are not the easiest places to stay but they provide a valuable preparation space.
We sometimes forget that while we are waiting, someone is preparing everything for us on the other side of the door. During this holiday season, whatever waiting room you may find yourself in, remember that He has promised to prepare a place for you. Let us determine to make the most of our personal waiting rooms until He opens the door and calls our names.