Every year our hearts are turned toward the Christmas story and its flavorful characters. You know: Mary, Joseph, Gabriel and the shepherds. I love to examine them because in each one I identify with their responses to the birth of Jesus. Yet one, in particular, seems to resonate with me every year. Maybe it’s because this season demands so much of me in running my household smoothly. (Or… is that even possible?) Whatever the case, it’s the innkeeper that stings my heart. Remember that fella? He was preoccupied with all the “fluff” and, therefore, completely missed the miracle that God had descended onto planet Earth, camouflaged in the skin of a newborn.
But I can’t be too harsh on the innkeeper. He had “fluff” to deal with during this exciting and unprecedented barrage into Bethlehem. For him, it meant every inch of his hotel space being filled up with weary travelers and a cash drawer overflowing with enough currency to feed his family for months. After all, who had time to care about a pregnant teenage on a donkey? Why would he care if she gave birth in a stinky stall amidst the sheep urine and dung? He’d never see them again. Right? (Oh, yes, my friend, according to scripture, he WILL see Jesus again. Yipes! I wonder what THAT conversation will sound like?!!)
The innkeeper was afflicted with fluff. But you know what? We likely have the same problem. My fluff is called preoccupation with things that I won’t even remember next year. It’s called dissatisfaction with people and things that aren’t going my way. It’s called anxiety over situations I can’t fix. And for you? Maybe it’s financial fluff or children fluff or a “someone did me wrong” fluff. This I KNOW: Fluff hurts! Amen? Yet, here’s the “real” reason we miss out on the joy of Christmas: idolatry in our schedules – not making room for Jesus.
Friend, have you ever wondered why God sent the angels to the shepherds when they rejoiced, “Glory to God in the highest – I bring good news!” Why didn’t He send the angels to the innkeeper? Who knows? Maybe God tried. Perhaps the innkeeper didn’t have ears to hear or a desire to believe and see.
So what’s a person to do? I know for me with Christmas morning only a few days away, I’m intentionally dealing with my own fluff by asking God to either minimize it or at least weave Himself more strongly in the middle of it.
I love Max Lucado’s prayer: Lord, help me to fully imagine what happened that Christmas morning in Bethlehem. It was majesty in the midst of the mundane, holiness in the filth of sheep manure and divinity entering the world on a dirt floor, all in order that we might find Jesus the Messiah – the ONE who grants us not only eternal life but earthly peace.
Many blessings, my friend, and Merry Christmas!