And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)
I find it striking that at the end of his ministry, as he was wrapping up his time with his disciples before he went to the cross, Jesus assured them, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3) He wandered about without a place to lay his head, yet, the first thing he promises his troubled disciples is not merely shelter, any shelter, but a room in the Father’s house.
Although my Savior came to no room at his birthplace, he has gone on to prepare a room for me, and it’s not just a room—a designated space with measurements and coordinates. He will be there also, and not just a room with him there—which is awesome enough—but it’s a lot more than that. He has prepared for me to be with him, to abide with him, to reside in him. HE is what makes up the features, the atmosphere, the feng shui of the room. HIM. He is home. He is the where of kicking off my shoes and settling down with a cuppa joe. He is comfort food, a soft blanket and a wagging tail at the door. He is Sabbath.
A popular saying at this time of year is, “Make room in your heart for Jesus.” Notwithstanding we can’t make the room but he must, the truer saying is that “He has made room for us.” And it’s more: It’s his Father’s house, and in being with the Son, we receive all the same benefits that he gets as a Son.
Do you remember the residents of the Island of Misfit Toys from the animated TV show, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”? Dolly, and Charlie-in-the-box, and the Boomerang who wouldn’t come back — toys that weren’t wanted because they didn’t do what was expected of them, or they were a little different in their design, exiled to the Island of Misfit Toys where they waited and hoped for a chance to be enjoyed and appreciated and loved. However, the island was so far off course that they were forgotten year after year, and were never given the opportunity to brighten a child’s Christmas morning.
Disappointments, slights, brokenness in life. Mistakes, but also sins, hardness of heart, dissension. Sometimes I echo Dolly’s words when she says, “I just don’t feel like I have any more hope left in me.” My heart is troubled, and my coordinates don’t register on the radar. I’m lost, with desperation rapidly closing in. How do I know he will come back for me, to take me to him?
Hear Jesus’s tender words of encouragement—which come after his prediction that Simon Peter will fail and deny him, just as I do in my unbelief and discontentment: “Let not your hearts be troubled,” and his exhortation is, “You believe in God? Believe also in me.” (John 14:1)
He doesn’t leave us to our own devices or our own means of finding our way to him. He comes to dwell with us. He is our dwelling place, and his task now is preparing our eternal dwelling place for us. That’s the hope he gives the disciples as their steps falter under the burden of their troubled hearts. “I go and prepare a place for you, [and] I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
We won’t be left on this island of misfit toys forever. He has prepared a room for us where he will be also.
And that makes for a merry Christmas message!