A Good Kind of Empty by Lara Cook
Empty. Vacant. Unoccupied. Uninhabited. Desolate. Deserted. Abandoned.
Have you experienced anything like that this year?
Empty can be applied to all of our lives this year in one way or another. We have seen empty shelves. We have driven down empty streets. We have passed empty parks. We have had empty churches, empty schools, empty restaurants, and empty stores. As a result, there has been empty banks and empty bank accounts. Some businesses will be empty forever now as they have had to close permanently due to the losses of this ravaging season. Some of us have empty chairs in our homes because we chose not to come together for birthdays, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas. Some have empty chairs due to the loss of loved ones to this dread disease. And I would guess we all have at least one empty place in our hearts for something we have had to give up during this time.
Personally, I have experienced emptiness this year. My nest is empty now, and it is a strange place but weirdly satisfying. I miss my children dearly, but nothing fills a mother’s heart with joy more than seeing her children grow, struggle (the good kind), and navigate the obstacles of this life following the Lord’s leading. My arms are way emptier than I want them to be since my granddaughter moved three hours away. It is also one of those circumstances that I am thankful for, even though there is a certain amount of pain to endure. I would hold her as close to me as possible forever, except for the blessing of my daughter and her husband following the Lord’s guidance in their lives.
The ache of distance – social distance or miles – has also touched us all and leaves an emptiness that longs to be filled by being
with those we love so dearly.
Ironically, emptiness is so heavy. The very definition of empty – hollowed out with nothing to fill the space – suggests that whatever is empty would weigh less, but no one has ever attempted to weigh an empty, heavy heart. However, our Heavenly Father does know the weight of this burden. He is there in all the empty places – the chairs, the aching arms, the heart – and He longs for us to realize that we don’t have to feel this weight. We can fill these empty places with Him, and He will take that weight away.
Part of the Empty for me this year has been a good emptying of my heart of some things that needed to go –idols. The challenge of an empty cart is a challenge I need. The idol of things, overindulging, filling every empty crevice of my life with these things I thought would make me happy – it was way past time for them to go. Oh, they might have filled me, but not with anything good. They only filled my life with stress, debt, pain, and shame. I do love clothes and shopping, there I said it. But I have passed the happiness I thought they brought and now an empty cart brings a full heart! It is going to take a lot of empty carts to dig out of this mess – so don’t judge me when you see me wearing the same outfits for the next ten years! That’s what happens when we fill the desolate places with the wrong things, it takes a long time to dig ourselves out of all we have shoveled into our lives, gorging ourselves, our baskets, our closets, our houses, so we can barely breathe.
This filling of ourselves of all the wrong things is such a devasting illness. It is overpowering and leaves us feeling bloated and uneasy because we know it is wrong, and yet we cannot stop. But why? Many times, we use these idols to run to when we don’t want to think about what is really going on in our lives. Shopping is so much more fun than thinking about hard things, and it makes me feel better. It could be alcohol or drugs – whatever you are doing to make yourself happy when you feel sad, full when you feel empty or lonely, or anytime you should be running to Jesus instead.
Satan wants us full of all the wrong things so we will not have room for all the right things. It is only when we empty ourselves of these idols that we can allow the real and lasting fulfillment of Jesus Christ to fill every empty place in our heart, every place that is only His to fill.
What do you need to empty your heart of today? What are the empty places you have discovered this year? The very best thing about this is that it is exactly what Jesus wants from us. He wants us to empty ourselves of ourselves and all the things. He is jealous for all the space, every inch, and only when we get ourselves out of the way can He fill our hearts. When this happens we will have the abundant life we long for and that He desires for all His children. This good kind of Empty is so freeing and so much better than the prison idols keep us in. Take inventory. Clean out. Make space for Him.