Christmas time is upon us!  With it, comes the varied, joyous traditions that happen during the holidays.  My family enjoys a plethora of time-honored traditions, but there is one tradition that we have which doesn’t quite elicit the typical festive reaction from my children.  The preparing of the rooms.  This involves a good, thorough clean of the house before the Christmas decorations are brought inside and new gifts are received.  The preparations are relatively painless until we reach my kids’ bedrooms.  Bins and shelves are combed through, items are pulled that are no longer used or have since been outgrown, and things are sorted into separate throw away, keep, and donate piles.

Their first solo attempt at this process usually ends with a grand total of about two or three things that can bear to be parted.  At this point, I must now enter the room and guide them to entire sections that still need sorting.  The deliberations are often intense as they go back and forth between items to donate and keep (even though the objects in question have usually laid buried at the bottom of a bin for months).  This process repeats multiple times until things are finally cleaned out and easily accessible.  If not cleaned out, the clutter would eventually overtake the room, stifling all ability to play and leaving no space for exciting new objects of fun.  It’s not a fun or festive process, but it is necessary.  On Christmas morning, their struggle with room preparation is not even an afterthought as the new Lego set is quickly constructed and proudly displayed.

The popular Christmas carol Joy to the World contains a lyric that states “Let every heart prepare Him room”.  As my family and I were preparing our house for Christmas this year, I began thinking about what it means to prepare my heart for Advent.  I realized that there were things in my own life that were cluttering up my ability to enjoy Him and all that He wanted to share with me this season.  Is your heart ready for Him?  Maybe there is some bitterness that is barring the doors to the mercy He has waiting.  Perhaps worries are beginning to choke out the peace He freely gives.  Or maybe it is busyness that is keeping you from being still long enough to know Him more.  There are often one or two things that immediately come to my mind that I know I need to get rid of, but He can do a much better job of seeing what else really needs to be turned over to Him.  Will you take some time this holiday and ask Him to search your heart?  To reveal the clutter that needs to be gone.  It can be hard to let go, but there is so much better in store.  He can heal, restore, forgive, and sanctify.  What a gift!

Many of us do a fantastic job preparing our homes for the holidays.  Both the insides and outsides of our houses are ornamented with beautiful decorations and filled with the sweet aroma of delectable holiday fare.  This is indeed a season to celebrate as we remember the birth of our Savior and look forward to His coming again!  However, as we continue this Christmas season, let us make sure that we celebrate in a way in which our hearts, not just our homes, are prepared for Him.