Emptied to be Filled

Everyone has things that are of great importance personally.  I do.  If I were to start listing things of great importance my list might look different than someone else’s though there may be some similarities.  My relationship to God, husband, son, family, friends, church family, health, time, my dog.  Different things.

Things that are important might include my opinion, my convictions, my beliefs, my standards, my need to be needed, my patterns of life, my structure of the day, my thought processing ways, my schedule, my studying time (which is very important and treasured to me).

Loyalty is important.  Keeping my word is important.  Loving others in Christ is important.  Confidentiality, faithfulness, self-sacrifice, living Christ, balance, keeping priorities straight,  doing my best for God…all of these things are important and the list could go on.

Sometimes circumstances, life, hard times can change that which was once considered quite important.  Sometimes happy surprises can have an effect on what is important.

There are some things that are important that just won’t and shouldn’t change.  Other things maybe have the possibility of changing and “life” still being okay and good.

But, what if I’m not willing to let go of something that I thought was important.  Do I let what I thought was most important that it becomes idolic to me.  What if I become unwilling to bend and be flexible and see things of importance move in relativity.  Now, obviously, I  must not allow the importance of my relationship with God to change, or that of my husband or son.  But, what about other things.

I used to think that teaching a children’s Sunday school class was of utmost importance.  And it was, for a time. And then, something changed and I was no longer teaching those children.  That priority, that importance changed.   I used to think that expressing my opinion was important…maybe I felt the need to be heard. And then, God brought about a change and I was emptied of that extreme push.  I used to think that sleep was most important…because afterall, sleep would keep me healthier.  It really was a matter of time and where the importance of that time use fell.  I’ve always had a pretty strong idea of what was important and why and I could “go the distance” believing that.

But, lately the idea of being emptied has been hovering in my heart and mind.  I think all things begin empty.  A cup has to come out of the cupboard empty before I fill it fully with a refreshing drink.  A vehicle comes off the assembly line with an empty fuel tank before it receives what will assist in in operating and the driver being able to go on an adventure or do errands or whatever.  A hand cannot receive the gift of a friend’s hand if it is full and holding on to something else.  A mind and soul cannot see the guidance offered through God’s word if they are filled with personal agenda of what they want to be taught or think they need to be taught.  A heart cannot fully receive the gift of God, His direction and His love unless it is emptied of self in order to be filled.

If I am filled today with ideas of what I see as most important from the first moment of my day then I am already filled up with what truly is the less important.  If I begin my day asking God to empty me of anything that would get in the way of His plan for my day then I am more ready and able to be filled with His desires and plans for that day.  Jesus emptied Himself that He would accomplish all His Father had design (Philippians 2:7)

“Oh Lord, please don’t let me waste this gift of a day with what I see as important.  Whatever emptying needs to be done…do it…

Empty me that I may be filled to overflowing with You and Your desires.”

Eyes Wide Open

I am by nature a melancholy type of person.  So, I work hard at letting God deplete that nature in exchange for something better….His!  I’ve been thinking a great deal over the past few months about being thankful.  God brought a wonderful book into my life and I’ve been reading it for awhile now, trying to go slowly enough to absorb it.  This book is on being thankful and the author writes in such a way as to cause me as the reader to look at things from a different perspective.

One of my latest themes in life is “Eyes Wide Open”.  If my eyes are wide open I have a better chance of seeing the blessings which God has given.  The “big” blessings are easy.  You know, money suddenly comes from “somewhere” to pay an outstanding bill; you get a call from someone you’ve been thinking about but haven’t heard from in a long time; someone comes a long and takes you out to dinner or pays for you to go to a special event.  Then there are the, what we might refer to as “little” blessings…you know the ones you might just miss if you’re eyes to your heart are not wide open.  Like a parking place close to the store, or a sale at the store on THE item that you “must” have, or having just that one more bite of something special that you love.

But, there are also the blessings that come after.  You know, after the storm, after the difficulty, after the trial, after the challenge.  These we usually see…well,…after.  We see what God has done.  We look back and get a better or bigger picture of what we learned through it.

There is yet another one and this is the one I’ve wanted to deepen as my eyes to my heart and my walk with God open wider.  That is the blessing while going through the fire, the storm, the difficulty.  Whatever it is.  I think most of us would agree that most things are centered around perspective.  If I allow my natural melancholy perspective to rise up then the trials that I go through suddenly become gray and dismal and thunderous.  But, if I begin to look for the blessing while I’m going through whatever it is then I have a perspective that is in line with what God has for me.

In Ephesians 1 verse 18 Paul writes “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened [opened] in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.” God tells me all through His word that He wants my eyes on Him and His plan, He wants my heart and mind on Him, He wants me to trust Him.  The question is, do I trust Him or do I not?  Do I trust Him when the sky is so dark I can’t see my hands folded in front of my face?  Do I trust Him when life’s battles are raging and all I can see is the situation right in front of my face?  Do I trust Him when everything around me seems to be shifting and what I’ve known as “normal” is no longer?  Do I trust Him when the Dr.  brings yet more “bad” news?

Having my eyes wide open means the answer is “yes”.  He knows it’s hard…He promised it would be.  He doesn’t mind me reminding Him that it’s hard.  But, when my eyes are open to Him then my perspective takes on a new background.  In the midst of the darkest night I know that the stars are still shining.  When the battle is raging I know that He has gone before me to make a way and give me strength.  When the shifting begins I know that He is my sure foundation and He will not allow that mountain to fall on me and He will help me find my “new normal”.  When the Dr. comes again with that news that I didn’t want to hear, He will remind me of the bad news that He has already brought me through and made new and made good come out of it.

“So, Lord, today, may my eyes be wide open to every single blessing, the big, the small, the blessings that come after, and the blessings while I’m walking through.  Open my eyes that I may see Your perspective.”

The Not-so-good Impulsiveness

Recently, I was speaking with a young friend about obedience issues.  I asked him what was his biggest challenge in being obedient.  He said “Well, my problem is that I do things on impulse.”  The conversation continued for another minute but that sentence stayed with me…”My problem is that I do things on impulse.”

I’ve been thinking about things that I do on impulse.  I impulsively pet my dog when she’s all hyper.  I impulsively give hugs.  I impulsively do probably too many things.  To be impulsive is to do something without giving it thought.  I know that there are times that I react to something my husband says too impulsively.

Being impulsive is not a discipline I wish to keep.  In my natural self, I can react and overreact causing an impulsiveness that is not reflecting of God in any way, shape or form.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately contemplating time and studying the word “mind” in the Bible.  Many times in His word God tells me to make sure my mind is focused on Him.

If I am aware of Him, of what pleases Him (like Ephesians says), of the things He tells me to think about (as in Philippians), then maybe, just maybe, I will act and react less impulsively.  If my mind is on Him, maybe, just maybe I will see others as He sees them, maybe, just maybe, I will actually fulfill Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.”  If I am truly dwelling in His presence, maybe, just maybe I will recognize my negative impulsiveness before I actually act upon it.

“Lord, make me always aware of Your presence that my heart, mind, soul, and strength truly will love you and follow after You.”

The Consequence for God

Recently, I was reading a devotional and the writer made a passing comment about the sin Adam and Eve committed and the consequence it made  for God.  She went on in her writing to talk about many other things but I was stuck on that remark.  I’ve always known that there was a consequence to sin.  I mean, because of sin, God sent His Son, Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins.  Because of sin, God could not look at His Son while He was hanging on the cross bearing the weight of our sin.  Because of sin, man (and woman) is separated from God.

But what occurred to me in that moment was that time became a consequence of sin which touched God in a huge way.  God made man/woman to have a relationship with them…with us.  He wanted to walk and talk with us.  He wanted to show His love towards us.  He wanted a full relationship but sin entered the picture.  And now, even though we can experience forgiveness from God and can have a relationship with Him, it will never be complete and full and all He planned until we are in His presence either through death or upon His return to get His children.

It occurred to me that there are many times when I am anxious for God to work or for God to move or do something or fix something.  I am not good at waiting and I want time to pass quickly so that I, or someone else I know and love, can experience healing or a problem to be resolved.  God walks us through a process in those tough times to bring us into a deeper relationship with Him.  But the larger picture is that God also is waiting and though time is different for us than for God, He is waiting to bring His children home so that He can share the relationship with them that He intended in the beginning, before sin entered the world.

“So, Lord, the next time I’m a “little” impatient wanting something right now…help me to remember You’ve been waiting and will continue to wait on us.  Thank-you God for your patience.  Help me to wait on You.”