Friday, December 19, 2003

Making History

It had been an incredibly hectic Christmas season (aren’t they all?). The businessman was busier than he had been in a long time. His fellow merchants encouraged him to seize the opportunity to make money while he could. This was their black Friday, a time to turn a profit. Nothing wrong with that. As Christmas Eve was winding to a close, he was ready to rest and relax.

You know how it is. Weeks of long days have worn you out. All you want to do is sit down with a nice big bowl of popcorn, think of nothing, do nothing. Just stare at the wall and breathe. So there he was, finishing up the days’ work at the family owned motel. His wife drying the last dish from feeding the over abundance of guests. The kids sweeping the floor and bedding down the animals. ALL of them are looking forward to that big bowl of popcorn. Made with bacon grease.

Then the knock. He and his wife sigh as they get ready to turn yet another weary traveler away. Opening the door they saw a terrible sight. A young, haggard man and a pale, quickly fading teenage girl, hugely pregnant. As the motel manager stands in the doorway, his wife looks over his arm and the kids peek past his legs to see the couple. In their hearts, in their weariness, they’re glad they have no room. They’d already turned many travelers away. There is NOTHING in them that wants to serve these people, but they all know that there is no way dad is going to turn them away. He will do whatever necessary to find a place for this worn out couple, not because he wants to but because IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. And it cost them.

The innkeeper has gotten an incredibly bad rap for centuries. But check out the scripture. It does not say anything bad about him. Scripture states reality: there simply was no room available. Fact. But somehow Mary and Joseph were offered room in a barn. Maybe, just maybe, it was this maligned innkeeper. Rather than a villain, I think he is an example for us. Especially during this week leading up to Christmas.

HE MADE TIME. The innkeeper was busy, but he did not use it as an excuse not to do the things that were important. It wasn’t that he had time. We’ll never have time lying around, just waiting to be used. Time for the right things has to be MADE, seized, grabbed and used. This begs the question, “What are we busy with?” We’re going to busy!! Accept that fact. Life is not going to get unbusy and we can’t wait for the day when things slow down before doing what we should. The decision is to choose to use our time to do God’s things.

HE MADE ROOM. You may be thinking, “Herb, you don’t realize that I don’t have anything.” I can’t tell you how many times people have told me, “If I win the lottery, get a new house, get a better job, and on and on … THEN I’ll be able to do good things for people.” God doesn’t need our stuff, He needs us. Once we make ourselves available God, will use what we have. Look through the Bible to see Moses’ staff, David’s sling, Gideon’s trumpet, Jehoshaphat’s choir, Balaam’s donkey. Simple, every day stuff. God has made a career of using the simple things people have. He doesn’t use what we don’t have, how could He?

What did the innkeeper have? A barn. Can you see the other innkeepers on motel row as the innkeeper started clearing a place for Mary and Joseph? No beds, no rooms, nothing but a stable with animals and straw. His family had some food, perhaps a stool, some rags, odds and ends. They used what they had to make a difference that will be remembered for all time. Which shows us…

HE MADE HISTORY. What an honor to be the owner of the shed where God showed up to save the world! I am absolutely sure the innkeeper had no idea who was standing at his door. It didn’t matter to him. He did the right thing for people who needed him and, without realizing it, he made history. So can we, just don’t expect to know it at the time.

Let’s hear it for the innkeeper. Maybe no room in the inn, but plenty of room in his heart. There’s always room for what God wants as we kick out the clutter in the way.

Have a great Christmas.

Luke 2:1-7 (NIV) "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

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