advent conspiracy [love all]: Tanja Jameson
“Let every heart prepare Him room…” We sing those words every year, know them by heart. Sang them just a few weeks ago in church, in fact. But as I sang that day my voice snagged on the phrase, caught on the joy delivered in Isaac Watts’ lyrical command to “prepare Him room.”
As many times as I’ve bellowed those words in my lifetime, “let every heart prepare him room”, and yet I’ve never hovered on them, turning them into a picture of the rooms in my heart instead of letting them rest in the midst of the verse.
Catchy phrase that it is, I need to remember what is not to be prepared: not my checkbook, my schedule, my car, my house. Nope. Just my heart. So why is that the hardest thing to get ready?
Let every heart prepare Him room. Which means my heart is not exempt from “every”.
Prepare Him room.
Preparing for anything takes work: planning, moving stuff around, maybe even throwing old stuff out or changing up my schedule. Sometimes it takes starting over or refreshing what’s already there. And then there are the times the preparations become uncomfortable, sweaty and gritty, confrontational and achy. There’s so much that seems like it doesn’t need to be moved or let go, giving false confidence that there’s plenty of room for whatever it is that is occupying the space.
And then what goes in that ‘room’, once the space is all cleared out and available? I answer, “love”, right? If a heart is truly going through the preparations, really cleaning out the junk and scrubbing the dark corners on hands and knees, my response surely can’t be to fill it with more junk. And certainly not more anger, frustration, unforgiveness, ________ or ________. (You fill in the blanks. You might have some of these yourself.)
Still, that answer, “love”, somehow seems vague, like it gets a free pass since I answered “correctly”. Because then I have to ask, what about my own heart preparing? How welcome would He be today? Or in April? Or during a particularly tense meeting at work? Or in any sort of marital issue, parenting concern, family stress? How welcome would He be, in seasons of my life that don’t lend themselves much to the preparations necessary to really, truly, deeply, joyfully love?
Does it mean I’m less crabby? Intentionally kinder to my family? Purposely nicer, less snarky with that one person at work who can get me torqued up before I’ve even fully logged in to my computer? Zero choice words during the morning (or holiday!) commute?
Certainly those suggestions are fine. But they suddenly seem like the easy way out, as if my “willingness” to ready my heartrooms only goes as far as the foyer. That if anyone were to walk in and look around, the surface cleaning might be “good enough”, but no way would I want anyone turning on the lights. Flipping the switches and peering into spots that still have dust or cobwebs. Or dust bunnies or dust mites. (BTW – yuck.)
But if I picture Jesus turning on that light to look around more, I see those other “loves” that can move through those heart hallways and rooms, if only the clutter is cleared.
The love that comes when I pray for folks I don’t particular like most days, but in the consistent praying, I come to love them with no earthly explanation. Somehow, the love works its way in because the room has been prepared.
Love that gets in when my sarcastic tongue isn’t even tempted to respond to a planned attack, aimed straight at me. There’s nothing I’ve done to disable that tongue. Except clear out some space and let my heart open up.
Love that provides its own light when I get to love people I don’t even know. Or when I find words that beg grace and forgiveness on behalf of someone who, in my worldly eyes, deserves neither. That cannot possibly draw from any of my own pitiful resources, but can only exist if I make room for love.
Oh, but how do those places in my heart stay clutter-free and prepared? How do I prevent the piles of worry, fear, selfishness, hopelessness, loneliness, _______ or _______ (go ahead, fill those in – you know you want to) from taking over again? Those piles are sneaky, you know? Before I even realize it, my heart looks like an episode of “Hoarders” and intervention is required.
The messy stuff only clears out in the readying, in seeking opportunities to fill up with love instead of mess. Perhaps with some of the organized activities at Fellowship North (STEP Ministries, feeding the homeless, serving at Pike View), or maybe even with other things God puts out there, giving the chance to love differently, quietly, humbly – in a hiding, personal place that only He wants to see. That place that says it’s ok if the recipient of love never knows it was me, but sees only that it was Him. The challenge is in really seeing those chances, then letting the love do its thing.
Maybe the greater challenge is in all year long, all life long. Prepare Him room. In freeing up that space to welcome Him, I’m throwing out the welcome mat for love too. After all, what is He but ultimate love?
Let every heart prepare Him room. Mine. Yours. Ours. Every.
Today’s post is by Tanja Jameson. When she’s not busy sporting a pie plate on her head, you can often find her singing, acting, or greeting at FN. She spends her days at Windstream, and tweets under her alias here. Married to Steve, she’s also mom to Bailey and Chipper Via.
This Christmas season at FN, we’ve decided to join into the Advent Conspiracy. As a part of celebrating together, we’ve asked several people to write about each week’s topic here on our blog. And we’d like for you to join in too: share your reactions, plans, or experiences in the comments. Or, if you post on your own blog, leave a link in the comments. Post pictures to our Facebook wall. Tweet us @fellowshipnorth. Let’s use our online space as a community – one that will conspire together this Christmas season!