Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Empty to be Filled

What do you do when life doesn't turn upside down--it just turns sideways for awhile?

-House.  No house.
-House plans.  No house plans.
-Infertility.  Fertility.  Infertility.
-Fax sent. Fax not received.  Fax received.
-Not going to baby shower. Have to go.

Interruptions.  No sleep. No real affection.  Being told basically to "get over it" and "this is life".  These are not unusual instances.
These are not strange.

Wanting to adopt. Having to wait.
Frustrations mount.  Hands feel tied.  Feet, too.  The world spins.  People go on with their lives.  All the while this life seems stuck.

How do I walk into that baby shower--look into the eyes of one who hasn't a smidge of understanding as to who/what is growing in her belly?
All the while my empty womb groans?
How do I put the smile on?
How do I reach out for joy?  When the cup of punch I drink is bitter?  Distasteful?

All within me cries: I. can't. go. on.

I can't.

I can't.  But the Holy Spirit can.

And i am Mary asking, "How can this be?"
How can this be? I have tried this before and failed.  I have gone to the showers.  Walked this road of life and said the words "I can't. But He can."

And I have found no magic in those words.  No elixir to make the ugly-gifts of life go down easier.

And the angel Gabriel replies with confidence.  Strong confidence.  Unwavering confidence.  I've-seen-Him-and-I-know-confidence...

"For NOTHING is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)

Yeah.  I've said those words, too. Nothing magical about them either.

Gabriel was referring to the barren womb of Elizabeth that had been opened 6 months earlier and of the Holy Spirit conceived baby Jesus.

I've read all the barren womb stories--Hannah.  Samson's mother.  Elizabeth.  Rachel.  Sarah.

But we haven't received any promise like that.

The womb is still empty.  Still unsure of the why's.

But I read on not 3 chapters over in Luke and Jesus is being tempted while fasting/praying in the wilderness for 40 days.

I know what it feels like to be in a wilderness.  And alone.

The very first 6 words--they speak to me: "Jesus, FULL of the Holy Spirit..." (Luke 4:1)

I have to be empty before I can be filled.  Did Jesus know what it feels like to be empty?  Really empty?  I've-tried-it-all-before empty?

The truth is I come up with an anorexic faith.

I depend on Christianese and cliches to get through moments.  And maybe I desperately need to depend on the Holy Spirit to fill me.

I am certainly empty.  I am certainly barren.

There is not amount of "gussying up" that will help me feel better tonight.

So this Lent--let it bring the empty places.  Let the light of Jesus shine brightly into the barren womb, the wrought-out and worn and dry-ground places.  they are ready to be filled...

FULL of the Holy Spirit.

So tonight I will walk into the house.  into the people.  into the presents.  into the swollen and expecting.

And my belly will not show any signs of swelling.  But my emptiness will be filling because the Holy Spirit comes to fill the empty places.  So that the truth "nothing is impossible with God" can be true in my life, too.

The sun sets.
The afternoon draws to an end.
And this Lent there is hope that all the empty places will be filled.

John 15:5

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 14:16-17

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another [a]Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.