Tuesday, March 8

Running on Empty

Read Revelation 3

There was a time in my life that I ran on empty. Invisible fumes of sheer will kept me going. My firstborn put all other colicky babies to shame. He screamed for the first six months of his life. He spit up constantly, and that’s a polite way of putting it. And he didn’t sleep at night for more than three hours at a time until he was almost a year old.

I bounced, walked, swung and drove. I sang, sleep trained, fed, medicated, and begged his pediatrician for answers. All I got was a shrug and a prescription that sort of helped a little with the vomit. I got to stay in bed two nights a week. The nights before my husband’s day off he would take the bouncing/swinging/mopping up spit shift, and I would lay in bed and listen to the baby cry.

I barely had the energy to put together a cohesive sentence, so while my friends blogged about their little darlings rolling over and sitting up, I wondered what was wrong with us that we couldn’t pull it together.
I didn’t feel connected to the baby who demanded so much from me. So much more than I had to give. I begged God to help me. At times, my crying for help almost drowned out my baby’s. But I stayed empty.
Why? Why didn’t God answer such earnest pleas for help? Why didn’t he fill me up?

As much as I begged for help, I stubbornly held on to the belief that I needed to figure out mothering. That I should be doing this better. That I could do it if I had enough sleep, enough support from my husband, enough time in the day…

It turns out, I didn’t need any of those things to function. But it never occurred to me then. I needed to step aside and let God fill me up. But instead, while he stood at the door and knocked, I stood in the doorway, blocking his entrance, and ranted at him that He wasn’t helping. Talk about counter productive!
If anyone had a right to block the doorway and shout at God, it was a guy named Job. You remember him. Satan came whining to God one day, and God, knowing his servant Job well decided to let Satan have his way with him. Not because he didn’t love Job, but because he knew the man’s heart.

(Did you ever notice Satan killed off Job’s children, livestock and servants. He covered the him in sores and removed his home and income. But he left him his wife. The wife who told him at one point, “Curse God and die.” What a joy she must have been to live with, right?)

Job spends chapter after chapter defending God’s right to do this to him, reminding himself of how big God is, and defending his own character to really inconsiderate people, wishing he had never been born and begging to die.

Job stands at the doorway and rants. Who wouldn’t in his shoes? And God takes it. He waits, knowing the whole story--including the ending, while Job laments and argues with his friends. Then he gets Job’s attention.

          "Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that darkens my council with                 words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”

God knocked loud enough for Job to hear. God spends the next three chapters going over his own resume. The really impressive parts about the laying of the earth’s foundations, giving orders to the morning, and knowing the directions to the abode of light. Finally, God gets around to his question for Job:

          “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”

I’m glad Job’s reply was more appropriate to put in print than mine would have been.

          “I am unworthy--how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.”

So God keeps going. But there is a difference this time. Not so much in what God is saying, but in what Job is doing. He’s shrinking. He is stepping out of the doorway and allowing God all access.

          “I know that you can do all things, no plan of yours can be thwarted…Surely I spoke of things I did   not understand, things to wonderful for me to know… My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job has removed himself. The door is open, and Job is outside. And God fills him up.

          “After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.”

Maybe if I wasn’t so sleep deprived, I would have seen the truth sooner, but I didn’t. I cried, begged, and as time passed, by baby grew out of the sickness that made my life so dark for about six months. He’s a gentle little boy now, easy to laugh, eager to love and hug and talk and sleep. We moved past that phase, and I didn’t need God to sustain me so much on a day to day basis. Once things calmed down, I stepped back inside, closed the door, and just did life knowing that Jesus was right out there within shouting distance.

Let me tell you, that is no way to live! I can’t help but wish I’d just let him come on in when my heart was so empty. He would have had a blank slate. Now, we must purge and remodel. Everything takes longer and hurts more when there’s so much of me to move out.

If you’re running on empty, I challenge you to step aside and invite Jesus in. Things work so much better when He is in charge. And if you’re not running on empty, I challenge you to, along with me, do whatever you have to do to make room for Him.

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