You can find spiritual lessons in all types of circumstances.
Searching for a new house can be stressful. A pandemic in full swing doesn’t make things easier either. Under normal circumstances when moving to a new city or town, I take a pilot trip to report for duty at my new job and search for a house. But this time COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine regulations ruled the day. I also didn’t want to take a risk because I had a wife and an infant at home. I never expected, however, that this experience would teach me deep spiritual lessons in the process.
A House in Hyderabad
The moving team gave me a time frame within which I could expect my household things to arrive. I was due to start my new job in Hyderabad, India, which was essentially returning to my home turf, a city that was once the capital of my state. But that did not give me an ounce of advantage in finding a decent place for my family. Because we are Christians, many of the offers we placed on homes we liked were rejected. Our finances also did not allow me too many other options. Those within our budget were too small, dirty, lacked proper ventilation, or were in noisy neighborhoods. I just could not find a decent house.
As the day our things were to arrive approached, my stress level increased. People close to me started suggesting various solutions, such as bunking in the nearby Adventist school until we could find a good place. Another suggested we keep our things at a family owned property but was sorry he could not offer a place in his house even though it was unoccupied. My aunt suggested her house, which was presently occupied by her in-laws, as a last resort. These temporary fixes would only add more expense, and in the end, we still did not have a place to call home.
A Room in Bethlehem
This reminded me of a time more than 2,000 years ago when a young couple was in desperate search for a place to rest for the night. Mary was getting close to delivering her baby, although she did not know the exact time it would happen. As the intensity and frequency of her labor pains increased, Mary and Joseph’s stress level must have as well. Bethlehem was Joseph’s home (Luke 2:4, 5), but that did not give him any advantage in finding a good place for his wife and baby. The Creator of the universe was about to be born as an incarnated human baby with all the rights to a beautiful place of birth, yet He did not seek an advantage above the rest (Phil. 2:5-8). He “shunned all outward display,” because it was His desire that “only the beauty of heavenly truth must draw” people to Him, and not an “attraction of an earthly nature.”1
As the “fulness of the time” (Gal. 4:4, 5, KJV) approached, perhaps people may have suggested this or that, or maybe no one cared to suggest anything at all. Maybe someone said at some point, “If you are ever in Bethlehem . . . ,” but that invitation seemed useless now.
While I had options, Mary and Joseph had none. No small rooms with good ventilation and a nice view; no choices for clean or noiseless spots. They needed a place and they needed it fast. As Luke wrote, “There was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7, KJV). The stable was certainly a last resort.
A Place in Our Hearts
Today we know the second advent of that Baby born in a stable is imminent. The world is changing at an apocalyptic pace, and signs show us a need for urgency. I am sure Jesus wants more than anything to come as soon as possible, yet He is waiting. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20, NKJV).2 That door is the human heart. The profundity of my experience in searching for a house led me to search deep within my heart. Have I really let Him in permanently? Is my heart a good place for Him to live in?
Then it hit me. While Christ longs to occupy my heart, He is not looking for something resembling a palace. The Lord is ready to take even a heart that resembles that unwelcoming stable. Today, unlike His first advent, there isn’t a need for just one room, for He is knocking on the doors of all our hearts. He is in a rush as the “fulness of the time” is approaching and He longs to enter in. Do you have a place in your heart for Him?
As I write this, not long after we began the search for a house, I am grateful to report that God provided us with a good place to live. It took a week to find our new home. But how long will it take for Jesus to find a place in our hearts? There is no time to waste.
1 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 43.
2 Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ã 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.