Emptied

Emptied

I chose the theme of “Victory” planning to write something altogether different as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

But since then, COVID-19 has happened and we are all hunkering down somewhere in this pandemic-stricken globe praying earnestly, hoping bravely, and believing confidently that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead is still in control. That He’s got this.

Yet still we wait.

We wait as a world on lockdown. Borders have been closed and airlines grounded. Jobs have been upended and economies thrown into a tailspin. Schools have had to be re-imagined and some businesses deemed non-essential. Entertainment is now within the confines of our property lines and we can no longer shake our neighbor’s hand. Bustling streets are now barren and church buildings are empty.

Understandably, we are being asked to social distance, but having been created for community, the isolation can become overbearing. Normal, as we have always known it, is being unraveled in front of our very eyes and if we have never fully acknowledged it before, the novelty of this situation has affirmed that we wait, and live, solely at the mercy of God.

I don’t know about you, but my knowing that God’s got this has not always equated to my living it in real time. There have been so many moments in the last several weeks where the onslaught of it all has left me feeling vulnerable, not victorious. Maybe it’s the fluidity of the situation and the constant change in restrictive measures leaving little time to plan. Maybe it’s the conflicting reports and all that scientists are yet to know or the fact that for all of governments’ efforts, we still don’t seem to be in front of this. Maybe it’s living in this small island economy that is so heavily dependent on the rest of the world when the rest of the world has been temporarily closed. Maybe it’s the indefinite timeline and the sense of desperation that we all pray does not fester from the wait.

Whatever it is, the magnitude of the situation has brought me to a place of vulnerability and is emptying me of any reliance I’ve had in the façade of the familiar.

But that could be a good thing, right? Even though it’s uncomfortable? Even though the word “empty” often carries with it a negative connotation? An empty gas tank. An empty stomach. An empty wallet or an empty promise.  Can “empty” really be a good thing?

Oh, but Jesus! The One who endured the cruelty of the cross even redeemed “empty” to be good that resurrection weekend, so that His presence may fill all things.

First, in light of cross, Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-8 that Jesus set the example by emptying Himself:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (ESV)

If Jesus emptied Himself to become a servant so that He could fulfill the will of God, how much more do we need to be emptied of self so that God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is fulfilled in us? The cross of Jesus redeems our emptiness, so that His presence may fill all things.

Secondly, in light of the resurrection, let us look at the tomb. It was not only sealed, but it was also guarded, inescapable by man’s standards. But we all know the story. On the third day, the stone was divinely rolled away and the tomb found empty, for Jesus – our Lord and Savior, our Hope and Redeemer – had resurrected and is alive.

See, the empty tomb fulfilled God’s promise.

The empty tomb conveyed God’s power.

The empty tomb means God’s presence.

Jesus emptied Himself to fulfill God’s will.  God emptied the tomb to fulfill His promise.

So as I reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus in the midst of this global crisis, I am learning that my being emptied is exactly the place where God wants me to be. Maybe it’s the place He wants the world to be. For without the emptying of self and the safety of the familiar, without the emptying of negative thoughts and of useless fears, without the emptying of anxiety or of mistrust or resentment – without the emptying, we can never be fully filled with the truth of His promise, the glory of His power, and the assurance of His presence.     

“He who descended is the very same as He who also ascended high above all the heavens, that He (His presence) might fill all things (that is the whole universe).” ~ Ephesians 4:10 (AMP)

Yes, we all hunkering down somewhere in this pandemic-stricken globe praying earnestly, hoping bravely, believing confidently, AND living victoriously knowing that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead is still in control. That He’s got this – so that His presence might fill all things!

Is there something that God is emptying you of during this global crisis and how is He redeeming that for good?  

Photo by Sandro Kradolfer on Unsplash

4 Comments

  1. Mandy Carpenter April 14, 2020

    This is great. Thank you for the reminder that the emptying of ourselves is not a bad thing, in fact it is just the opposite. We must first be emptied in order to be filled with His Spirit and His presence.

  2. Stephanie Clarke April 15, 2020

    Thanks Mandy! It’s true. The emptying of ourselves is not always a bad thing, nor is it the most comfortable of situations – it can often leave you feeling pretty squeamish. But it’s sometimes necessary so that God can fill us and that area of our lives with His redeeming grace and for His good purpose!

    Have a wonderful day!

  3. Leslie Attema April 15, 2020

    Thank you, Stephanie, Great article! It really ministered to me. I can truly resonate with a lot of what you are saying. Ever since Easter, I’ve been meditating on the 3rd words “He is Risen,” and there’s so much that comes up for me as I sit in God’s presence reflecting, Similar to what you shared here, that we don’t need to worry because God has the power to move on our behalf. Also, since “Jesus is Risen” we are never alone, he is intimately present with us as you mentioned. And because “He is Risen” we do not have to fear death or economic collapse because if God can raise Jesus from the dead, he can surely take care of our needs. And even if something were to happen to any of us, we will immediately be transported into his glorious eternal presence forever.
    I am in the US right now because I returned for medical attention, although I can not meet with a doctor due to Covid, but I also serve in a developing nation in the Caribbean so I understand how dependent Caribbean nations are on other nations.

    God bless you, Stephane and thank you for reaching out to us through writing.

    1. Stephanie Clarke April 15, 2020

      Thank you, Leslie, and praise God that Jesus is Risen! Is – present tense! So thankful that He is with as we journey through these perilous times and that His plans for us are still good! His being alive makes us victorious!

      I hope that you are able to see a doctor soon and that you enjoy good health, even as your soul prospers. God is indeed able and He is surely good. I would love to hear more about your ministry in the Caribbean whenever you have a chance. Until then, be blessed and encouraged, Leslie!

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