What do YOU do with the empty spaces in your life? The less-than-satisfying relationships, unfulfilled dreams, disappointments, lost hope, despair.
Left empty, these spaces create a quagmire of alienation and depression. Filled with the wrong “stuff”, they become the seedbed of frustration, stress and various forms of self-destruction.
Three actions in life create empty spaces.
1. Moving forward…
The initial step of our journey of faith and friendship
with God leads into a vast empty space.
For Abraham and for Jesus’ disciples, the initial step of their journey of faith and friendship with God created a huge empty space. They left everything—family, houses, and lands—to answer the call to follow.
They had no idea what lay ahead. All they had to go on was an invitation that resonated deep within their spirit and a promise that sparked hope. Yet, it was enough to germinate a seedling of trust in the One they followed.
Their step of faith was a monumental risk which created a vast empty space.
It was almost 4 years before the disciples saw their empty space filled by the One who promised to fill it beyond what they could image. Abraham waited faithfully (but not always patiently—he was, after all, human like us) 25 years before his promised son was born, the beginning of a numberless nation.
2. Passing through a wilderness…
Everyone who is led INTO the wilderness is led OUT,
their empty space brimming to overflowing!
All who are intentional about pursuing their journey of faith and friendship with God are led (by God) into a wilderness. The wilderness is that dry, barren space where nothing seems to go our way and everything is tested to the breaking point.
Immediately after their miraculous deliverance from slavery, where did God take His people?
God told Moses, “These people are not ready to have the empty space created by their freedom filled with the Promised Land. They have not met Me in a personal encounter to know who I really am. They don’t know my Word by personal revelation and so they don’t have the faith required for the intense battle ahead. They have been delivered from physical slavery, but their minds and hearts are not yet emancipated. I must put them through the refiner’s fire.”
He led His people into the wilderness.
In the wilderness, we encounter God in ‘burning bush’ experiences. As they did Moses, these encounters fuel our faith and our confidence in God.
The wilderness strips us of the extraneous religious trappings we so readily cling to and presses us into an authentic faith that is based on personal revelation of His Word. Then, when confronted by the enemy of our soul, the devil, we can answer his accusations and temptations with authority as Jesus did, “It is written…”
The wilderness exposes the residue of Egypt still in us, the traces of our old self and our old life hidden beneath our carefully crafted image. These habits and attitudes form a maze of landmines waiting to detonate. In the wilderness they are uncovered so they can be de-fused.
Although the wilderness is not a pleasant space—in fact, it is often a painful place—it is of great benefit.
3. Took a wrong turn…
Wrong choices made with bad judgement
create empty spaces,
but none of them turn aside God’s love toward us.
Our personal journey of faith and friendship with God is a winding path with many crossroads and forks in the road.
Like Christian in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, it is easy to take a wrong turn, get waylaid, or fall into the sticky ‘Slough of Despond’.
With brutal honesty, the Gospels record the disciples’ blunders.
The Torah does not hide Abraham’s gross errors of judgement. One, begetting Ishmael by Hagar, is the root of the Middle East crisis that threatens to explode at any time.
Although our wrong choices made with bad judgement result in empty spaces that only God can fill, none of them turn aside God’s love toward us.
His mercy triumphs over judgement—i.e. God is far more concerned about finding a way to redeem and restore us than He is to judge and punish us as we deserve.
Neither Christian’s detours, nor the disciples’ blunders, nor Abraham’s error of judgement kept them from experiencing their empty spaces filled with God’s promise.
Christian reached the Celestial City, the disciples became the apostles who turned the world upside-down with the Gospel, and Abraham became the father of nations.
Empty spaces make us stronger, move us forward and
establish shalom as we embrace the process.
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