Prepare Him Room
There’s nothing like an honest kid to make you feel old. I have a few honest kids in my life. They’re my piano students. We’ve been pulling out the Christmas tunes the past few weeks. This week I asked several of them, “Hey, how about this one? Have you heard the song, “Joy to the World?”
“Ok, well, Jingle Bell Rock it is then.”
I will confess I’ve never been a Christmas carol fanatic. Since I was a teenager, I’ve thought, “Why do we have to sing the same songs every Christmas? Can’t someone write some new stuff?”
Go ahead. Call me a Scrooge.
But after my students left, I sat down and played “Joy to the World” surprisingly for my own enjoyment. Truthfully, I was feeling a bit sad that day, and deep down, I was hoping that a song about joy might actually cheer me up.
“Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room…”
Three lines was all it took.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
I wondered how exciting it must have been for young Mary and Joseph to be the first to see the newborn King who had come. I thought of the joy and the intrigue the rejected shepherds must have felt when the angels announced the King’s coming to them before they announced it to anyone else.
And then I fast-forwarded to 30ish years later when Jesus began to tell others that He in fact was the long-awaited Messiah. I thought of how sure the people were about exactly how this Messiah King would be bringing joy to their world by conquering their political enemies and improving their financial situation. Surely their minds couldn’t comprehend how washing others’ feet, not having a place to lay your head, and loving your enemies enough to die for them could bring joy.
Lord, help us to trust that You know better than we do about what will bring us true, lasting joy.
Let earth receive her King.
I thought back to that day as a four-year-old girl when I kneeled by my parents’ bed with my mom and prayed to receive Jesus as my King. I thought about how Jesus never turned kids away when He was on earth, and how He actually encouraged us “big people” to be more like kids – more trusting, more playful, less stressed, and less status-seeking. I thought of how He accepted kids who had no big sum of money to give, no theology degrees earned, and no huge following on social media.
I thought back to my teenage years when I rejected this King and “un-received” Him. How I told Him I wanted nothing to do with Him. How I was so sure there were greater and much more fun ways to achieve joy in my life.
And yet He pursued me, and “I received Him” again. To this day, my mind cannot comprehend how the Creator of the universe would allow Himself to “be received” by me – that He would humbly allow His creation the free will to receive Him or not.
I love how Isaac Watts (the lyric writer) specifically said, “…receive her King.” Not her friend. Not her good example. Not her self-esteem booster. No, her King.
(But that’s another post for another day.)
Let every heart prepare Him room…
This is as far as I got in the song. I played and sang this one line over and over. I often encourage my students to practice one difficult line of music over and over again until it sinks in. This one line has the 3 easiest piano chords in it. It’s lyrics have 8 simple syllables.
Easily played. Easily sung.
I even tweaked the words and sang, “And let my heart…prepare You room…” over and over. It was a tender, heartfelt, worshipful moment that was quickly interrupted by the question, “Just HOW is my heart practically supposed to prepare Him room?”
How do we do it?
I thought of how last week, there was a chance that some friends would be staying at our house while we were away for a few days. I “prepared them room” by intentionally leaving the house quite tidy. I spent time thinking about what I could do to make them feel more at home. Clean sheets on the bed, sanitized bathrooms, fun snacks in the kitchen…had we been home to actually host them, the list would’ve been longer and even more enjoyable.
Those dear friends who were maybe going to stay in my house for a couple days got me to thinking about how to prepare for the King who had surely come to stay in my heart for a really long time. I had to ask myself two questions:
#1 What would make Jesus feel most at home in my heart?
With my friends potentially coming to my house, I wondered, “Do they prefer warm flannel sheets or cool cotton? What are their favorite foods? Do they have any allergies? I thought about how if only I knew them better—if only I knew more of their likes and dislikes, I could make them feel even more at home.
The more I know Jesus, the more I can confidently make Him feel at home in my heart. The more I can “surprise Him” with His favorites. He tells us throughout His word the many things He likes and dislikes, but I think it boils down to these two:
1. He hates pride, and He loves humility.
2. He hates hatred, indifference, or injustice toward others, and He loves love toward others.
If we could just prepare the room in our hearts to be more humble and loving toward God and toward others, just think of how different our world would be. The notable truth is that humble people are always more joyful than prideful people are, and loving people are always more joyful than selfish people are.
James 4:6b God opposes the proud but favors the humble. (NLT)
John 13:34 (Jesus said) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (NIV)
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)
#2 Do I see Jesus as my “heart guest” or my “heart owner?”
We would tell our friends whom we’ve invited to our house, “Make yourselves at home,” or, “Help yourselves to anything!” But we wouldn’t mean it 100%. If they decided they wanted to paint the kitchen pink, or invite another twenty friends to stay as well, or even tear down the house and build another one, we’d most likely say, “No way.”
But if our friends actually owned the house and were in fact our landlords, our answer must be “yes” to any of their requests concerning “their” house.
If Jesus is truly the King of our hearts, if He is truly our Lord and Ruler, a “no way” response from us is never an option. Now if He were a selfish, unjust, or hateful “heartlord”, this would be very bad news.
But thankfully, He loves us with the purest love possible, and because of that, wholeheartedly saying “Yes” to His will—even when we don’t understand it—brings us an unexplainable joy.
Ephesians 2:4-5 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (NLT)
1 John 4:10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (NLT)
Dear Savior and King,
Joy to the world! Thank You for coming to this world to show us your unexplainable love. Thank You for pursuing me to receive your love. Please help me to prepare room for You in “my” heart—this heart that is actually Yours. And help me to trust You as my true source of joy, even when I don’t always understand Your ways. Amen.