When There's No Room in the Inn



I heard my husband pacing back and forth in the hallway while mumbling faintly under his breath. Something about shampoo and trying to get a shower. The dilemma? A multitude of sharpie labeled boxes containing all of our daily necessities. And it was anyone's guess which box labeled "bathroom" the shampoo might have been in.  All of our energy sources were depleted by this point. Too fatigued to peel one more strip of tape off a box for a search party.  

It was laugh or cry when a small giggle escaped from where I watched the scene unfold from the bedroom. There is a combination of mere exhaustion, aggravation, and stress that comes with the upheaval of your life that moving brings. Even if it's just across town.  

The day before, I packed our entire home from sun up to sun down. I have become familiar with the echo of a place as the contents that once filled it get placed into boxes. As the once adorned walls stand bare. The shelves cleared off. The closets cleaned out. Dust balls exposed. The house emptied of life and rhythms and stories. 

It was our fourth move in a year. I had become accustomed to the resettling into new spaces. Never allowing myself to get too comfortable anywhere. Some of my stuff always in boxes and kept in storage. Knowing as I drank my coffee on the couch of each living room that I would not be customizing it as my own. You don't go through the effort of painting and hanging pictures unless you are planning to stay, and eleven years had passed since I had lived anywhere I knew wasn't temporary. Eleven years. The thought of it is sobering and melancholy, leaving me with an ache to settle in and stay a while. A long while. 

Maybe that's why this one particular part of Jesus' birth and Mary's story is etched in my heart this season. The part where it says this: 

"There was no room in the Inn." 

I cannot imagine this moment for Mary. The discomfort and exhaustion of a ninety-mile journey to Bethlehem in the last uncomfortable months of pregnancy. I have not forgotten the low back pain. Or feeling like my pelvic bone was going to break in half. I haven't forgotten the anxiety of knowing I was responsible for this amazing life I was being handed and wanting to do it exceptionally well. 

And Mary's was not a situation of ordinary circumstances, as if ordinary isn't hard enough. Mary knew well the gravity of Who she was giving birth to. Well…I think she knew as much as anyone is capable of recognizing and comprehending something so complex. Now her moment of labor had arrived, and there was no room in the Inn?  

Maybe it's part of my story. Perhaps it's part of yours too. 

Maybe for you, it looks different than no vacancy and having to possibly give birth on the side of the road. 

Maybe it looks more like my situation. One of moving to a new zip code, change of address forms, new neighbors….again. Living in temporary spaces and longing to feel settled. 

There's no room in the Inn. 

Maybe it looks like feeling like you don't belong no matter where you are. Or feeling alone even in a room full of people. 

There's no room in the Inn. 

Maybe it looks like things not turning out the way you had hoped. Maybe there was a divorce. A death. A fractured relationship. An estranged child. A broken heart. Some unforeseen event in your life that you never wanted. 

There's no room in the Inn.  

What now? 

Take heart. Mary's story is your story. It's mine too. 

Boulder, CO 

Jesus could have been born anywhere. It could have happened any other way, but it didn't. This climactic part of the story of Mary's labor and no safe place to rest and settle ended and yet began in a stable. The most undesirable of places.  

A reminder to us all that God isn't just found in palaces and with people who are labeled as important by society's measure. He isn't only present when events are unfolding seamlessly and the way you hoped. He's present in the chaos and when everything seems like it's completely falling apart. He's in ordinary places and with those left on the side of the road. 

Our rescuer was born in a stable. Our rescuer is present with us in the low places of our lives. That's the message for you and me this Christmas and New Year. 

"...and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)." 

There is room for you in the Inn.  


Reference: Luke 2:7; Matthew 1:23

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