Barn vs. Inn

We are barreling toward the fourth week of Advent and only a few short days away from Christmas. The anticipation of the younger members of our families is palpable. The halls have been decked, presents have been bought, and we have been making merry with family and friends. Or maybe we are completely behind, which is just fine as well. No judgment from me, I can assure you. Don’t open my spare room.

But in the hustle and bustle of the season, have we made room in the stable of our hearts for Jesus?

I found a great reflection called “Inn Expectations and Barn Reality” I wanted to share. I love this title because for many years I’ve had unrealistic expectations about what can be accomplished during this season. I want the inn, but end up with the barn. I have learned, however, that I can make all the homemade cookies I can think of, but my daughter still loves the Pillsbury ones with the reindeers on them that you just pop in the oven.

I also have to remember that the barn was cozy and intimate, and filled with love. So maybe your house looks more like the barn than the inn right now. Like being pregnant, the baby arrives whether you are ready or not. And Christmas is coming, whether you are ready or not. Fortunately for us, Jesus is ready and waiting to be a part of our lives if we let Him in.

“To fully experience the joy of Christmas, we must fill our weeks of anticipation with the spiritual fruits of our faith. Serve others. Pray for others. Give to others. It all comes down to these four questions:

Are we preparing the internal manger?

Have we paved our spiritual road to Bethlehem?

Have we tempered our inn expectations to the barn reality?

Are we wrapping the people we love in swaddling clothes stitched with prayer?

You and I? We get comfortable with what we have and what we do. We act like the tax collectors and the soldiers, asking more of others than we ask of ourselves and throwing out judgment with nary a thought as to how it affects others. And every year, Christmas comes around and reminds us that all we have, all that we are, and all that we do comes from one source—a tiny baby in a manger, who grew into a man, who saved us.

So, prepare the feast, give joyfully and decorate your home with beauty. But don’t forget to do the same for your heart. After all, that’s what He desires most.”

Adapted from “Inn Expectations and Barn Reality,” by Kathryn Whitaker,


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