Sometimes I get these empty places in my heart and life. It affects my creativity, leads to apathy in a lot of areas, and gets worse the more I try to "fix" it. Kind of like our toddler and his empty sippy cup.
There was a week or two that he'd get upset about his empty sippy cup. Then, he'd get even more upset when I'd try to take it to refill it. He threw quite a fit about me taking his cup, because he was still learning to trust that my intentions were to return his cup fuller than when he gave it up. He doesn't always get it.
But I don't get it either. I know Jesus offers living water to fill my emptiness (John 4:1-30). But when I get these empty places I have a hard time giving them up to Jesus. Or I fixate on just "fixing it" in attempts to offer Jesus and others a full cup instead of my current emptiness... which only makes it worse, like scraping mud from the bottom of a dry well.
But that's not what He asks for. Jesus asks for our empty cups--the broken, empty spaces in our hearts and lives--because He is the only true quench, the filling that never runs out.
The 5 Rs of Filling Up on Living Water
As I thought and prayed about what it means practically to be filled by Jesus, what became clear was these 5 simple ways to let go of our emptiness and be filled with the living water.
1. RestPull over and take a break spiritually and physically. This is as much about prayer as it is about action. Prayer isn't just the words we mutter as we go on our way; prayer is a stopping, a change in routine to be in the presence of Jesus. For me it usually involves shutting down technology and social media, getting in God's Word, and asking what He has for me. If I make the effort to slow, I always see Him show up.
2. RememberGiving thanks for what Jesus has done and is doing helps us remember His active involvement in our lives. Sometimes this involves noticing and even writing down the hidden blessings in my life. Sometimes this involves recalling times Jesus has led by memory or by browsing a past prayer journal. That's what that journal time has become for me--it's a pause to raise my ebenezer, or a memorial stone, for how God has led and provided.
3. ReciteIt's hard to tell if my bad feelings or discouraging thoughts come first, but they often show up together. By memorizing positive truth from God's Word, I can redirect those thoughts to positives which often causes the feelings to follow. Instead of listening to my out-of-control thoughts, I need to reign them with recited truth.
4. RefocusWhen present circumstances or feelings leave me feeling helpless, I need to refocus on hope for the future. Looking forward with hope, or expectation of obtainment, is what faith in Jesus is all about. It's not about having an easy life now, it's about perfection forever after. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity in our hearts. Even if we can't change anything now, we can focus on the life Jesus offers for eternity.
5. RepeatKeep needing and seeking Jesus. Like the Israelites gathering manna in the wilderness, the had to do it everyday. That daily gathering helped them realize their need of God's provision and helped them be reminded that He was consistent and reliable. Sometimes we'll find ourselves returning to feelings of inadequacy or emptiness or loneliness or plenty of other feelings of need, and I believe those are simply the need that keeps us needing Jesus. Instead of giving up, we need to keep going to Jesus' well to be filled with living water.
A few days later the babe handed over his empty sippy without crying, but still eyed me hesitantly--we're working on this trust thing in a lot of areas. When I returned his cup full of cool water, he stomped and happy danced and smiled with approval through sipping lips. I could practically hear Jesus saying, "Give me those places you're running empty. I want to fill you to overflowing."
Here's my cup, Lord, fill it up.
God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people. And now, God, do it again--bring rains to our drought-stricken lives so those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, so those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing. | Psalm 126, The Message
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