Zipping my jacket to my chin, I picked up speed in hopes of generating more body heat. Before long it would be warm—possibly even hot—but that would be later. For now, the October sun hadn’t been up long enough to chase away the overnight chill. Earlier, when the alarm pierced the pre-dawn stillness, I’d rolled away from it and waited for my husband to silence the intrusive noise. It was dark and I wanted more sleep. We all wanted more sleep, but we needed to get up and get moving. 

We had a hike we wanted to take.

For once, our hurry wasn’t brought on by the need to get off the trail by dark because we’d lingered too long or tried to squeeze in just one more hike. This time, we needed to get on the trail. Specifically, we needed to the parking lot before it filled.

Full.

It’s s an apt descriptor for our national parks these days. 

Take my usual hiking grounds, Yellowstone, as an example. Forty years ago, when my family and I made our first visit, it received just over 2 million visitors. When I worked there six years later, that number had grown to 2.5 million. Today, that number exceeds 4 million. The park is the same size. The number of sites to see hasn’t increased. The miles of maintained trail have actually decreased. The park service hasn’t added new roads or extra lanes. The only thing there is more of is parking space. 

Which, as I said, is precisely what we were after. Even by morning’s early light, the lot was already two-thirds full. Before long it would be completely filled with vehicles parked and waiting for their owners to return after several hours on the trail. Only would-be hikers who happened to drive by when a vehicle happened to be leaving would get to go.

Full. 

It’s not only true of our national parks, it’s true of our lives. Like Yellowstone—my life is more full than in previous seasons. It’s a different kind of full but it’s full nonetheless. I have the same twenty-four hours as before, more or less capacity, and definitely less energy, but there’s more packed in. 

You probably know what that’s like.

Prepare Him Room: An Invitation to Rest

Christmas is days away. There’s all the shopping and celebrating, familiar conflicts and new griefs, surprising gladness and anticipated joy. And there’s the reason we have something to celebrate in the first place: the arrival of our savior. 

With the celebration come the songs–songs to make us merry and songs to stir our souls. Sometimes, when I hear the phrase prepare him room, I feel the weight of my holiday to-do list and get frustrated and bah-humbug-y about all the Christmas extras. My breath gets shallow and my shoulders tighten and I wonder just where this extra room is supposed to come from. And then I remember (maybe not right away, but I remember): prepare him room isn’t an addition. It’s a practice and a posture. It’s an invitation. 

Finding the Invitation in Prepare Him Room

Remembering this, my shoulders drop and my breath slows.

We’re invited to an every day life with Jesus because that’s how he sustains us. To prepare him room means we hold that space throughout the year. Maybe that’s already an every day practice in your life. Maybe it’s already your heart posture. Maybe you want to add more room or start giving him a place. If that’s the case, remember this: it’s never, ever too late to begin—or begin again.

happy trails ~ Natalie

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Sharing over at Anita‘s, Let’s Have Coffee, and #TellHisStory.