Make room in your hearts for us…
(2 Corinthians 7:2)
Have you ever been searching for a parking spot in a busy lot? You drive around in circles hoping to catch someone just pulling out. Then there is that magical moment when you see a person walking to their car, keys in hand. You position your car to make your claim on the spot clear to all your fellow drivers. They open the door. They enter the car. The seatbelt is fastened. The tail lights light up and the exhaust gases begin to putter. You wait for what seems like a reasonable amount of time for them to back out. But they just sit there.
There was a study done with hundreds of drivers that proved we take longer to leave a parking space if we know someone is waiting! The study also showed evidence that if the waiting car honks their horn or signals their rush, drivers made them wait four times longer. Experts call this phenomenon “territorialism” and it can be witnessed in any crowded space. At the DMV, the doctor’s office, in traffic and at restaurants, the longer the line or bigger the crowd, the longer we linger.
It is easy to become selfishly territorial and refuse to make space for others but nowhere is this more dangerous than in our relationship with God. Our lives are filled with so many interests, pursuits and obligations that we sometimes struggle to find space for the most important things and people.
If you think of your life as a house and the things in that house represent your pursuits, interests and obligations, how would you describe it? Would it look like one of those crazy houses on “Hoarders”? Perhaps you’ve said “Yes” to so many unnecessary things that there is no room to sleep in your bed or eat at the kitchen table or work at the desk.
You may feel like introducing any additional spiritual activity in your life, like worship or prayer or study, feels like adding to an already crushing burden. An overcrowded life will actually pervert our priorities and our values turning spiritual pursuits into obligatory checklists. (Hag. 1:2-6; Amos 8:5)
If you feel spiritually drained, bitter or just overloaded, God can help you. Jesus lived the fullest, freest life possible and He did so by using one special word very carefully and deliberately: No.
“No” is a powerful word in Scripture. Joseph was an expert on the word “No” (Gen. 39:8, 12) as were Daniel and his three friends in Babylon (Dan. 1:8; 3:18; 6:13). When Nehemiah was helping to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem the enemies of God tried to pull him away and interrupt this important work. “And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.” (Neh. 6:3-4)
If we wield this one powerful and liberating word according to God’s wisdom, “No” can become the scalpel to reshape our lives and make room for the most important things. (Lk. 4:1-13)