Filled and Empty: The Blessed Paradox

Full and empty. Joy and sorrow. Peace and conflict. Lonely and protected. Aching and healed. All these words…so contradictory, yet somehow they can exist in the same soul at once. I’ve come to think that they must exist in the same soul at once. But how? How do we reconcile these things in our own lives? I’ve been coming to think that as Christians we must…we are called to.
Full. My life has been full lately. When I look back to last summer and my first few months in Israel, I’m amazed at how different it is now. When I first arrived, I really didn’t know anyone except the family I had come with. There was a lot of empty time to fill and I did a lot of things alone. I didn’t really mind because I enjoy being alone, exploring by myself, and more or less doing my own thing. But the fact of the matter was, I had a lot of time to think, pray, write, read, and keep my focus. When you get busy you don’t have that.
It’s taken a while. It takes a while to build community, to meet people, get connections, and have relationships. These things are all a gift from God. Precious. People and relationships are what life is all about. This is something God has been slowly teaching me, shoving me out of my selfish comfort zone and telling me that I need to stop locking myself away from people and be willing to really invest. He’s been filling my life with people, events, and opportunities, and it’s good for me. What’s more is that I’ve been finding that I enjoy it. As an introvert, I LOVE being by myself and doing things on my own, so having a life full of people is something different for me. My life has been full, and it’s a blessing from God.
This is good, right? Yes…but in that fullness there lays a danger—at least for me. Focus. My purpose. When you are empty and lonely and don’t have much activity in your life, when you feel sorrow, pain and conflict, you have a lot of time to think and you have to turn to God or you won’t survive. Sometimes I find myself so conflicted with the blessings of God because I see how easily I turn from Him. In my broken humanness I forget Him so easily. In the multitude of His blessings I start to feel like I don’t need Him as much…it gets easier to spend less time in prayer, my eyes are not as aware of the needs around me, and my heart stops aching for the things that really matter.
How do we deal with this? How, as a Christian do I learn to live in the paradox? How do I learn to live with joy and glory in His blessing while still yearning for Him, still having a broken heart for the things that He hates, and still aching for the lost? How do I keep myself from being distracted by the blessings?

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Walking. Daily. It must be a relationship. When we get so busy with the blessings of God and the fullness of life it becomes far too easy to let morning prayers and devotions slide. Our time is more cramped so we cut things short or don’t invest at all. What does this say about my heart? I think the key has to be the continual living out of relationship with Jesus. He has to be so much a part of us and our daily life that we recognize and feel Him as our biggest blessing. I want to love Him so much that no other blessing can take His place. But that relationship takes work. How badly do I want it? It takes effort to be empty and full at the same time. But I want to be. I want to be able to live in the joy that He gives, while still aching for more of Him. Empty and full, this is my prayer.

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