Treasure Valley Prays

Fullness and Emptiness

empty and full cups

So many voices…so many perspectives…so many programs…so many to-dos…

Just. So. Many.

You’d think with as many things as we tend to have going on in our lives, ears, and schedules, that we would be filled by the abundance. Yet, so often, I feel drained and emptied. Maybe it’s the secret introvert in me, but the work of sifting through the noise, crud, and mess of life wears me out.

So full, yet so emptying.

When I think of Jesus and fullness, my first thought drifts to John 10:10, thought by many to be the thesis or main point of the gospel according to John, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus says this while he is defending the man born blind from the Pharisees who have pursued him to this point. Jesus is talking for the sake of the one who is vulnerable, kicked out, and still open to harm. Fullness is for these, Jesus says. But how can fullness be for the one who has absolutely nothing? No community, family, or acceptance?

Apparently, God stepped in and figured it out.

When I think of Jesus and emptiness, my mind drifts to what is famously called the Christ Hymn in Philippians 2:6-7;

“who, though he was in the form of God,

    did not regard equality with God

    as something to be exploited,

 but emptied himself,

    taking the form of a slave,

    being born in human likeness.”

Jesus, the fullest of fullness itself-the infinite divine creator of the universe-empties. Emptiness is for the infinite, but how can one empty what is infinite?

Apparently, God stepped in and figured it out.

Life tends to run in what feels like empty times and full times. Some may call these low points and high points. It is so ingrained in us as 21st Century North Americans in the United States that to have is the same as being fulfilled and when something is empty it is bad. We don’t want empty gas tanks, for sure. We panic when our cell phones are almost out of battery power. Empty means there wasn’t enough.

But Jesus’ approach to fullness and emptiness may emphasize that, rather than place value judgments on how full we can be or not, emptiness and fullness are just a part of who God is in order to bring us all into relationship. Fullness is extended to the vulnerable, humbled, lowly, kicked out, and cut off. Emptiness is extended to all of humanity. Both happen for the sake of God’s love for the other. Both happen because God steps in and figures things out.

I don’t mean to say that God solves every problem we have, but in these situations of fullness and emptiness, God is involved and making relationship and a future happen for the man born blind in John 10 and for the whole world in Philippians 2. God steps into the mess of value judgments and miscommunications to say “I am here! And I am here for you all!”

So, if you are feeling empty today…

Or if you are feeling full today…

God is going to step in, and something will happen.

Picture of Justin Tigerman

Justin Tigerman

ELCA Pastor
Faith Lutheran Church, Caldwell, ID

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