Emptiness: containing nothing, not occupied, having no real purpose or value, having no effect: not sincere or meaningful, not showing emotion or life. (Webster's Dictionary)
My life has been pretty full. I have four amazing children. I work a job that I love. I have a husband that I’m crazy in love with. Ministry has been fruitful. I even have great neighbors – great enough to attempt being relational with them (even though I am an introvert). And I have a Savior who is all-satisfying. But even in the midst of this fullness, there has still been room for a question to fit in: “How can I love and serve Jesus and still feel this empty?”
In her book Carry on Warrior Glennon Doyle Melton quotes St. Anne who calls this emptiness our “God-sized” hole. I had wrongly assumed that a person with Christ in their life must have their God-sized hole filled and should never feel empty. Melton admits that, although having Christ, she still has a God-sized hole. Could this be true? I think so. No, I know so. Although we have the promise of fullness in eternity, we are not there yet. We yearn for the day of Christ’s return when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord of lords and King of kings and all things will be brought to completion. There will be no more tears and no more fears. But we are not there yet. And even with Christ this world and this life are hard.
The reality is people who have been rescued and redeemed by Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, can still have days of emptiness. We as believers can also try to fill this God-sized hole with other things besides Jesus, just like we did before Christ redeemed us. Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily and follow him. We have to fill our emptiness - our longings and the holes they cause - with Jesus daily.
These truths led me to admit that I was empty. Empty not just some days, but most days; I was trying so hard to squeeze out meaning and purpose, trying to be effective, trying to be valuable. We know we shouldn’t be empty, but admitting that we are instead of trying to fill ourselves brings freedom. Seeing and admitting our emptiness makes things more clear; it highlights the futility in thinking other things will fill us, and it helps us see our need for Jesus to fill us every day…
- I am empty and food can’t fill me.
- I am empty and a perfect body can’t fill me.
- I am empty and a beautiful dream home can’t fill me.
- I am empty and respect and renown from co-workers can’t fill me.
- I am empty and control can’t fill me.
- I am empty and my husband can’t fill me.
- I am empty and money can’t fill me.
- I am empty and perfect children can’t fill me.
Now, the truth remains that I am fully loved by, committed to, and known by Christ. But at the same time I am empty because this world isn’t heaven; it’s a sinful, broken place and I will always have a God-sized hole this side of heaven. However, when I bring Christ my empty, God-sized hole and ask Him to fill it, he does.
Psalm 107:8-9 says, “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
When he fills me, I don’t need the approval of others to fill me. When I don’t need their approval I’m able to encourage my friends in their gifts, and point out their value, instead of coveting them. And because he fills me, I can look at a negative word like “empty” and see the beauty in it; because in Christ’s kingdom empty things get filled. So now when I think of God and all that He gives me because of His grace, I can think like this:
- I am empty and filled with love.
- I am empty and filled with power.
- I am empty and filled with acceptance.
- I am empty and filled with wisdom.
- And dare I say that I am empty and filled with Joy!
Oh the possibilities!! And the hope!!