Getting nearer to the brook, she observed that what she had dreaded had finally come to pass. A three and a half year drought had eventually done it's damage. The brook was dry. She would carry no water home to her son that day. No food. No water. They would surely die.
Tears ran down her cheeks as she gathered some sticks to take home for the fire of the last meal. As she was gathering, a man approached, asking for some water and a piece of bread. There is no water. There is no oil. There is no bread. There is nothing. Everything is empty.
When it's all empty, how can I give anything to anyone else?
Do you ever feel like you just don't have anything left to give? Your soul feels dry and parched. You've lost your creativity and your zest for living. You search for the One that Scripture tells you will give you Living Water in a dry and weary land, but even He doesn't seem to be near.
People still expect things from you. They pull and they tug and they ask and they demand. All you have are a few sticks to build a paltry little fire. When it's all empty, how can you give anything to anyone else? Truth, precious one...you can't. An empty vessel is just that...empty.
I think we've all experienced seasons of emptiness in our lives. Maybe we've worked too hard. Didn't say "no" to enough things. Our circumstances fell in such a way where we had no choice but to keep running fast. We didn't eat right, sleep well, or take care of ourselves properly. We live in a world of fast. Instant. Run. Race. Drive. Work. Serve. Get up and do it all over again.
I think it's a gradual emptying. Really we're just too busy to notice that we're about to be running on empty. Then that last poor soul asks us to do that one last thing, and we blow. We just can't. We have nothing left to give. When it's all empty, how can you give anything to anyone else?
I remember reading a long time ago, somewhere, that when you are feeling just this way, you should try and remember what you were doing during the times in your life when you felt the closest to God and the most alive. I have had to do exactly that recently, and when I remembered, I discovered the answer to the emptiness.
First, when I am physically exhausted and poorly cared for, I am of no good to myself or anyone else. The older I get, (55 next week), the more rest I need. I'm the kind of person that runs and forgets to eat. Anybody? I've come to realize that I must eat three good meals each day. My days of surviving on coffee and chocolate are over. That's not a good diet for anyone, no matter your age. I must eat right, get to bed at a decent time, and at my age there's not one thing wrong with wanting a nap in the afternoon.
You may have littles running around your house and you'll need to adjust what you do to take care of yourself. Eat when they do. Don't just eat the crust off of their PB & J's either. Eat well. Nap when they nap. Devise some type of quiet time for them that will allow you some quiet time as well. A well rested, happy Mom is a real blessing to those little ones with boundless energy. Eat healthy foods. High in protein and low in sugar. Drink lots of water (yuck! I know.)
The frosted devil's food donettes are calling me from across the kitchen.
Second, I had to learn, still learning, that it's okay to say no. It's not selfish. It's not un-Christian. It's a necessary word that you need to employ when you know that you just cannot do one more thing. Say it. "NO". Practice it in the mirror. C'mon...you can do it. When you are convinced that you have to say "yes" to everything, something is going to suffer. You can't do everything...well, maybe you can, but you certainly cannot do everything well.
We all have the tendency to take on more and more, and then we find ourselves doing it begrudgingly, out of guilt, or fear of making someone angry. God wants us to do things wholeheartedly, being cheerful givers, not stressed out, worn down, or with the wrong motivation. Do fewer things with excellence. Many things that vie for your attention are good things, but again, you can't do it all.
Last, and I rank it as most important, is the time and attention I give to God. Personally, when I look back, the time that I felt the most alive and the closest to God, were the seasons where I immersed myself in God-things. Quiet time, Bible reading, devotional books, Christian music, and listening to good messages on TV, filled my empty self to overflowing with the life-giving Word of God. The nourishing springs of God are only found in the things of God.
Our minds can be the devil's playground. My mind needs to be continuously renewed with God's Word so that my thoughts are right. I need to know God's truth in order to recognize the lies of the enemy. Jesus told a story in Matthew 12: 43-45, about an evil spirit that had been driven out of a man. It sought rest in arid places but couldn't find it. So it returned to the house it had left, finding it "unoccupied", took with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, went in, and lived there. An empty mind is fertile ground for the devil to have a party in your head. Where the mind goes, the man follows. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23: 7)
If we neglect taking care of ourselves, establishing the right priorities, and filling our minds and hearts with the things of God, we will one day find ourselves sitting under broom trees saying, "I have had enough, Lord", and praying to die like Elijah. (1 Kings 19: 4)
The man of God brought a word from the Lord to the woman, not just a request for a meal. The Lord, the God of Israel said, "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land." Having faith in the word of God, the woman did as the man instructed. From that point on, there was food every single day for herself, her son, and even the man of God. "For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah."
Only God can fill the empty places. Only His Word can refresh tired minds and weary souls.
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!
Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3: 16-19 Message)
Story of the woman taken from 1 Kings 17: 7-16.
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