Each year at Christmastime, I give my kids the task of cleaning out their rooms. I tell them that before they can receive the new gifts on Christmas, they must make room for them by getting rid of some of the old things. Because they joyfully anticipate the great gifts they will receive from friends and family who love them, they are happy to do this work.
The same process, I believe, is important in our spiritual life. Our minds are the “room” where thoughts are collected all year long. Each January we tend to sift through that room and get things in order, purposing to live differently. And each year, by Christmastime, we tend to discover that things – thoughts- have amassed into a complicated mess that needs to be cleaned out again.
Thus the New Year’s holiday, following on the heels of our Christmas celebration, is a much welcomed one. We haul out the tree and the trash and all the worn and broken down things we have replaced or are planning to replace with something better. And our soul breathes in relief, rightly so. There is a very real, spiritual counterpart to our physical holiday traditions which proves to be effective in helping to keep us goal-oriented and purpose-driven.
Because I recognize this, I am intentional about preparing my heart as I prepare my house each Christmas season. I never want to miss the fresh revelation of the significance of this holiday, and I often find that this requires time set aside for quiet reflection. I also find that, as much as I am intentional about getting my house in order for the season, God is more intentional about helping me to get my inner life in order. After all, He came at Christmas to bring us hope, joy, peace, and promise. He has hand-picked gifts for me, but I know I won’t be able to receive them until I make room for them. And making room for them means clearing out some of the old thoughts I have collected – thoughts that directly oppose the gifts He desires to give.
I’ll give you an example you can probably relate to:
Last week, I found myself becoming rather irritated with a certain person in my life. It seems as though this person has required a lot of time, effort, and intention that I don’t have to spare. In one of our conversations, something was shared which shed some light on why he has required so much from me. Because he was neglected as a child by his mother, he has spent most of his adult life subconsciously looking for validation from the people he is surrounded by, and I am one of those constant people in his life. So…the task of validation falls into my line of duty.
In that moment, a gift presented itself, but I had no room to receive it. I was so focused on and used to living with the clutter of un-renewed thoughts that all I could see at the time was my resentment. Instead of just being irritated with the person in front of me, I also started to become irritated with his mother for what her neglect has cost me. I began to reason with myself that if she had done her job right, I wouldn’t now be having to suffer the labor of trying to fix it. The deeper I went into that trail of thought, the more and more irritated I became.
This was trash that needed to be taken out. This was part of the “old” that needed to be removed in order to make room for the new. Thankfully, God did not intend to leave me in that mess, and quickly presented me with the gift He had reserved.
The new thought, the new mindset, the life-giving promise was that, in the task of validation – in loving and tending to this person’s needs – I have been given the opportunity to love a broken soul into healing. I have been given the opportunity to partner with Heaven in the process of bringing life. I have been granted the chance to be someone who blesses rather than joining the long line of people who have wielded the weapons of darkness and cursing in his life.
All it took for me to see this was a little cleaning up, a little time set aside to make room for the new that I joyfully anticipate will come with this wonderful season. And I am so glad I did!
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, no doubt you have prepared your home for a celebration worthy of your efforts and intentions. No doubt you have set an external atmosphere worthy of a King. But have you prepared the room of your mind to receive the promises God longs to bring into your life as we approach the end of one year and turn toward the beginning of the next? As you ponder anew the gift of Christ this Christmas, have you made room for more of Him…not just beneath your tree, but in your thoughts?
If our minds are not renewed, if we are not actively engaged in the work of cleaning out the old in order to make room for the new, we will not have the space to retain what God desires to speak into existence. And because there is not room for both the old and the new to exist together, the new will be lost while the old remains firmly entrenched in its place…wreaking havoc and bringing strife into your heart and life.
Our life in Christ is full of promises. But so often, we receive those promises with excitement, and then find that they slowly but surely fade into the backdrop of our lives and lose their appeal until we nearly – if not entirely – forget about them. Sound familiar? Chances are, it is because we didn’t make room to receive them. We did not clean out the thoughts which occupied our minds at the time the promises were given, and those old thoughts continued to dominate our lives in a way which opposed the new thoughts, the new gifts, the promises which were meant to bring new life.
So right now – before Christmas is upon us and the Giver of all good gifts comes bearing His bounty – let’s get to work! Be intentional today and in the days to come about making room for new thoughts that will foster new life. Ask God to help you recognize the thoughts that are cluttering up your heart and mind, and which will no longer be needed in the new place He is leading you into. Then surrender them. Take out the trash and make room to receive the new!
Woman of Breakthrough, I bless you this Christmas to receive the promises you make room for! And I bless you with the divine determination to make room for all that God longs to bring into your life. His plans are so, so good! And He is so, so faithful to establish those plans, if we will just believe and cooperate with His Spirit, our constant Help and Guide.
May you plan the time in your schedule for sitting with God and cleaning house in your mind. May you have the most amazing Christmas ever – not just externally, but internally. May God break into your heart and mind like never before, and may you be forever changed by the fresh gift of His presence!