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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Grace at Home, Grace & Truth, and #TellHisStory.
I love your connection between the FULL parking lot and preparing room for Jesus. Having come down with Covid this week, I had to put the brakes on all my activities, and suddenly I discover it’s easier to “prepare him room” as a result. Blessings come in the oddest places at times. Thanks for linking up at Grace & Truth. I’ll be featuring your post at my blog on Friday.
When life’s turns takes us into “He makes me lie down” territory, I’m always reminded that it’s easier to do the things that matter when I’m not able to or trying to do all the things. I’m sorry you’re sick during this season. My parents have Covid this week, too. It’s never convenient to be sick, but in this season, it takes an emotional toll. Thanks for featuring my post!
Natalie, I think you’re on to something here. When we “prepare him room” throughout the year, how could the Christmas season not be sweeter than ever?
Sweeter than ever. I like that.
Great thoughts, Natalie. So convicting. How much of my life is “too full”, not allowing room for Jesus? Advent is my favorite time of the year, and this year God impressed me with “stillness”. I think for me that is the key to making “room” for Him. Seeking the still moments to rest with Him, I make room for the most precious part of my day.
I think you’re right. Stillness and space go hand in hand.
“I remember): prepare him room isn’t an addition. It’s a practice and a posture. It’s an invitation.” Yes!
Remembering is a vital component to the life of faith, isn’t it?
Oh, Natalie. This post resonated with me. Yes, my life is full. Add “Christmas” to the mix and it can feel downright overwhelming. I love what you say about preparing Jesus room isn’t about doing one more thing, holding ourselves to one more expectation. Rather, it’s an invitation “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.”
Thanks for this refreshing reminder!
Thanks for your encouraging words, Jeanne. It’s so good to know I’m not alone in the overwhelm–and the hope!
Natalie, it’s so good to meet you this afternoon from over at Jeanne’s place! Advent blessings to you …
Thanks for being here today, Linda!
Natalie, this post is beautiful in word, thoughts, and photos. “Prepare him room isn’t an addition. It’s a practice and a posture. It’s an invitation.” More so, I wonder if we need to look at it as a command. “Prepare Him room” today, each day, every day. Then when Christmas Day arrives, or when He arrives again, we’ll be ready and prepared.
“Ready and prepared.” May it be so. Thanks for your encouraging words today.
Love your analogy here Natalie! Everyday with Jesus is such a sweet journey.
You’re most welcome to join me in a cuppa at Tea With Jennifer,
Every day with Jesus is a sweet journey indeed.