Archives for posts with tag: empty

fullMy life is full of relationships and demands. My calendar is full of appointments and deadlines. My house is full of stuff. I have filled my life, my time, and my heart with all sorts of things that take up space and time. Some are very important; some just take my energy with minimal return. I can have my “hands full”, a full day, or a heart filled with whatever I am consumed by that day.

How can I be so busy, have so many demands, and still feel so empty sometimes? Why is it when I ask God to fill me with his Spirit, sometimes it feels like He’s ignoring me? I’m doing everything I know to do to obey Him and honor my obligations and responsibilities, and I don’t always feel fulfilled.

I suspect that I’m the problem. I am a task oriented person. I can fill every empty space on my calendar and in my heart in dozens of different ways. And then I wonder, why don’t I feel fulfilled? I’m not lazy. I’m doing all the stuff I think is right; why doesn’t it seem to work? I ask God to fill me with peace, but I refuse to let go of the busyness. I ask God to fill me with compassion, but I’m still clinging to pride and nurturing judgmentalism. I ask God to fill me with joy, but I’m still focused on the things that irritate me. Perhaps God can’t fill me with what I need because I’m so full of myself.

The difference between having what the world describes as a “full” life and being fulfilled is the source of the filling. In Luke 14 Jesus told a parable of a man who gave a feast, but those he invited had lives that were too full to attend. They were busy; they had responsibilities and relationships that were more important than attending the feast. So the man sent his servant to invite people who were willing to make space for that feast, who were willing to come and fill themselves at his table. If God is the man giving the feast and Jesus is the servant issuing the invitation, that makes us the ones receiving the invitation. We can choose to fill our time with our stuff and our activity, or we can feast on what God prepares for us.

Filling can be an active verb. I can fill my life, my calendar, and my heart with countless things. I can choose to be filled with joy or hope or pride or anger. But then when I seek God, I’ve left him no room to fill me with anything else. God has a history of filling his people. He filled oil jars and stomachs; He filled mouths with songs and His word; He filled the Tabernacle and the Temple with the manifestation of his presence; He filled his disciples with His Spirit.

But filling can also be a passive verb. An empty glass can be filled by someone thirsty in the same way an empty heart can be filled by God. Attempting to fill an empty heart with material possessions or busyness or relationships will always create only temporary relief. But things, activity, and people will always, ultimately disappoint us. We cannot expect them to fill the spaces that are meant to be filled by a relationship with God.

Being filled is nearly always a matter of choice. I can fill my glass with water or Dr. Pepper or fruit juice. I can fill my life with my best efforts and intentions. Or, I can make space for God to fill me with what will ultimately fulfill me.

Perhaps what stands between your full life and fulfillment for your soul is your decision to give God an empty place in your heart, on your calendar. What would happen if you emptied yourself of expectations and control and allowed God to do a new thing? If your self-satisfaction was rooted in understanding how much God loves you, rather than in measuring your own accomplishment? If you joy came from within, rather than being contingent on the attitudes of others?

Fulfilled does not equal busy; having demands on your time and attention will not fill your soul. You were created for relationship with God. Make space for Him. You will find that being filled with His Spirit is much more fulfilling than anything you can accomplish on your own.


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“The Gospel is for those who know they are empty.  Those who see no need for God in their lives see no need for God in their society.  They think they are capable of all they need. Our lives are significant only when we join God in our world.” Alister Begg

We can be “full of ourselves”. We can fill our homes with possessions and our calendars with activity. We can fill our resumes with accomplishments and our thoughts with mindless entertainment. We can be “full” of things that do not fulfill us, that do not feed our soul. We focus our efforts on achieving purpose, but find ourselves drained of passion. We can fill ourselves with what the world says we need, and find that we are disappointed in the results. All of our attempts to fill ourselves only leave us unsatisfied with a more complicated “to do” list.

Jesus knew that we would be tempted to fill ourselves with meaningless or destructive things that would consume us and leave us empty.

Matt 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

What are you hungry for? Are you filling your heart and your life with things that fulfill you, or with things that just take up space and time? Are you surrounded by activity and clutter that leaves you empty and disappointed? How much of your passion is spent on moments that don’t matter for more than just that moment? Do you base your worth on things that give you recognition, or on moments that fill your soul?

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, those who were full of themselves walked away from him or conspired to destroy him. Those who recognized his truth, who found his joy and were filled with his power were those who admitted that the standards of this world left them empty. Their recognition of their emptiness allowed them to be filled with the Holy Spirit found new passion and meaning that defined the rest of their lives.

May God give us the perspective to see our emptiness and fill us with his love.


My family had a wonderful day yesterday. We ate and laughed. We found joy in each other’s company. We were reminded that we are loved and belong to the incredible gift of family. But yesterday is gone in all but our memory. My patio has a pile of wadded up wrapping paper and dilapidated boxes this morning. Each box used to contain a gift that was given to bring joy and reminder of love. While the paper and boxes are piled on the patio, the gifts they contained are now in drawers and closets, on nightstands and desks. They will be used and worn in ways that provide utility and comfort. And they are evidence that our family celebrated each other yesterday.

When they were wrapped under the tree, those boxes gave beauty to the room, and created anticipation of what was to come on Christmas morning. The boxes contained the gifts, but the value of what was in the boxes will be determined by what we do with the gift itself.

Christmas is no more about the boxes that contained the gifts than it is about the manger. Both were made special because of what they held. That manger may symbolize the drama of that first Christmas night, but eventually it was empty. The Shepherds went back to field, the Wise Men went back home a different way. Joseph and Mary had to move past the birth of this holy child and begin a life with him, starting by fleeing to Egypt to protect him from Herod. Jesus didn’t stay in the manger; it was just where he began his life on earth; it was not the purpose for which he came.

As you move into the new year, what difference does that empty manger make in your plans, expectations, and perspective for all that is to come in 2014? God gave his only son as his gift to humanity. That same son also left us the incredible gift of an empty tomb. What you do with that gift will determine how you spend eternity.