Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Praising with the Emptiness

In an earlier post I promised to share how God moved me to deal with a problem...the problem of feeling empty in the middle of a worship service.

This past Sunday I was settling into my usual way of handling such things; just going through the motions, and not admitting to myself that anything was wrong. But then I felt an unexpected nudge from the Spirit. It wasn't the emotional boost I might have hoped for. In fact, it was something better.

Can you worship Me with the fact that it's all empty without Me?

What? I felt a bit of delight creeping into my soul as the idea sank in. Even perhaps a touch of relief.

Yes, Lord. I certainly can.

So while my mouth sang words that my heart didn't feel, I offered this praise to my Father.

See, Lord? It's all empty without You. When I can't feel You, I can't be satisfied. That's because You're what I really want. You're what I really need.

Yes, Lord, what wonderful praise!

I won't insult You by trying to create my own emotions like any non-believer can do at a rock concert. I want Your joy, not man-made feelings! And if Your joy is lacking in my heart today, I will do You the honor of missing it!

I will do You the honor of missing You.

Yes, Lord! You can't be replaced by hype! You're too wonderful to be traded in for any substitute! I would rather hunger and thirst while waiting for you, than fill up on my own artificially-sweetened snacks.

This is a whole new kind of praise for me, and I like it. I like it because:
  • It's real
  • It's God-centered
  • It's not demanding what I want to get out of a praise service, but rather praising Him as He deserves, to the best of my ability at that time
  • It stands to receive all of the blessings He has promised to those who wait for Him.
Can I extend this principle to other areas of my life?

One of the things I absolutely despise about housework is the emptiness of it. It lacks so much that my heart craves.

Can I offer that emptiness to God? Can I refuse to fill my soul with substitutes? Can I actively cultivate a hunger and thirst for my Creator?

If I can do that, then the emptiness itself can become a blessing. What if I wait for His blessing instead of manufacturing my own, believing that His will be infinitely better?

It is impossible to cultivate hunger while constantly munching. So tomorrow, when housework threatens me with its seemingly life-sapping demands, and the computer beckons with all of its delights, can I willingly shoulder the drudgery and offer it to God as praise?

Lord, I know that You have given rich meaning to housework, but I can't feel it. Never have been able to. I've always resented it, always hated it. But now I want to lift this emptiness to You. I admit that it seems lifeless to me because I can't feel You in it. I confess that there must be sin in me that's blocking our fellowship. In the past I have always "dealt" with this by avoiding the work, or doing it grudgingly, or at best doing it in the power of my flesh for as long as I could stand to (which was never very long). I always thought I hungered for more computer time, more writing time, more amusement time, more ANYTHING time. That's where I have had it all wrong.

What I really hunger for is You.

This emptiness is really praise, because I refuse to fill it with idols. I praise You by believing that this soul-void really CANNOT be filled with anything but You. If You tarry, I will wait patiently while continuing to obey. I will do this because I believe that You only feed hungry hearts. I want to stop glutting on the world's Twinkies so I can be hungry enough to feed on You.

When sin (laziness, wrong priorities) beckons, please God help me to remember You in Your ways, and to rejoice in doing righteousness (Isa. 64:5). And then feed me. Oh Father, please feed me!

But until You do, give me the courage, the hope, and the faith to wait on You, as Your Word so clearly tells me to do.

I write this with some fear. Hunger hurts, and I've never been able to avoid spiritual junk food for very long. In fact, as I was writing that prayer, I realized that it bore a pretty strong resemblance to something I wrote back in August. God's been trying to get this through my head for a while, and I haven't come very far with it.

But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Even hungering.

Yes, Lord, by Your grace, even hungering.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. (Lam. 3:25)
Blessed are those who hunger.... (Matt. 5:6)

(Photo from Stock.xchng by scol22)


Tami Boesiger said...

If You tarry, I will wait patiently while continuing to obey.

This reminds me of Elisabeth Eliot's mantra of "Do the next thing." That little phrase has pushed me through many a empty phase. We honor God with our obedience, especially when we don't "feel" like it.

LauraLee Shaw said...

I just love the way you write. And I love why you write.

None of us have it all figured out. None of us have it all together. None of us can say we go through our days without filling the empty drawers of our lives with junk. Not if we're honest.

I love your transparency and am always moved by reading your deep and meaty posts.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

What a powerful word. I am so glad that your wrote it, despite your feelings to the contrary. God is honored by your pursuit of Him, no matter how lively or how impassioned it may feel at times.

Thank you for being faithful.


saw425 said...

This is very much what I go through often. Believing housework is just something I have to get through so I can get on with something having to do with God's will - but oh, hey, even the housework is His will for me! And He is always worthy of praise!
Sherri Ward

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