Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: containing nothing
Synonyms: abandoned, bare, barren, blank, clear, dead, deflated, depleted, desert, deserted, desolate, despoiled, destitute, devoid, dry, evacuated, exhausted, forsaken, godforsaken, hollow, lacking, stark, unfilled, unfurnished, uninhabited, unoccupied, vacant, vacated, vacuous, void, wanting, waste
I have been thinking lately about emptiness. What does it mean to be empty? I was even awake last night thinking about it. I guess what has been striking me so much about the thought is that emptiness is something we fight so hard against, especially in our culture. We don’t want empty bank accounts, empty stomachs, empty schedules, empty hearts...
Why do we fight so hard against the feeling of emptiness? Why do we feel like we have to fill ourselves? In our culture, our lives are filled with noise--technology, busy activities, people who talk and talk and talk, teachings about needless doctrines, huge amounts of food, addictions, vain ambitions, closets filled with things we’ll never wear. People claw their way to the top of their career ladders, only to find that they are still empty.
The thing that I love about Jesus is that he is so opposite us. In Philippians 2:7, Paul says that Jesus “emptied Himself” (Greek - “kenoo” ) or “made Himself nothing” and took on the form of a servant. Why would He choose to empty Himself of His glory? Notice that there’s nothing in the life of Jesus that points toward following ambition, or striving to have more, or making a big deal of yourself. He wants us to be empty because our emptiness is His opportunity to live in us.
In the last couple of years, God has occasionally spoken to me with the words, “Embrace the emptiness.” Every time He speaks those words to me, the picture of an dry, cracked water pitcher comes to mind. He seems to lovingly bring this up whenever my life is busy and full and I’m feeling very self-satisfied. Each time it happens, I am reminded that I am empty on my own. He wants me to embrace being empty because then I remember that He is the only one who can truly fill me.
I am that empty, cracked water pitcher. I am flawed. I have nothing in me to give. But God is the glue that holds my cracked self together. He is the one who fills me. If I keep pouring out, He will keep filling me. Continuously emptying yourself keeps you from becoming stagnant. And embracing the fact that you are empty, but loved anyway, makes you grateful.
Gratitude has taught me to be okay with being empty. Knowing my place--the place of the prodigal son, the place of the thief on the cross next to Jesus’, the place of the grateful leper, the place of the one sheep he left the 99 to find--has left me feeling so humbled that He would choose to fill me. I don’t really care now about being the best at things or about having the most friends or filling my closet. I don’t care about being involved in a million activities or filling my bank account. All of that is vanity because I know it leads nowhere and is a counterfeit for the truest riches. I still have my moments, and I always will, where I forget my place and I get a big head.
I need to embrace my emptiness more often. In fact, I feel like I've been in a season of embracing it. That doesn’t mean I need to take a vow of poverty, get rid of my cell phone or burn all of my secular CDs…it just means that I need to keep reminding myself of my place. I’m loved in spite of the fact that I’m barren and dark at my core. I’m loved in spite of my evil motives and my bitter grudges. God wants to use me. He wants to fill me. I don’t know why He wants to, but I’m so grateful that He does. Knowing that I'm loved anyway makes me trust Him more.
So I hope you learn to embrace being empty. Even some of the best weight-loss gurus talk about embracing emptiness and hunger instead of fighting it. Once you've come to terms with your emptiness and the things that are truly in your heart, I guarantee you will be humbled by the fact that He loves you as you are. I know that I have nothing to offer God, except my broken, barren self. He sees the good things in me that I don't see in myself, the dormant seeds, and He is the one who will bring those things out and nurture and grow them. He will do the same for you if you let Him.