Wednesday, June 8

empty hands raised

for the past few months, the idea of being empty before the lord has been very present in my mind and heart.

honestly, i had thought it to be a bad thing - how could i come empty before him? how could that state of having nothing to offer come even close to being worthy of his presence? 

and then the lord gave me a lovely gift in the form of a one minute segment on our local catholic radio station, which focused on the need for us as christians to have empty hands.

i was so touched that in the few minutes that i happened to be in the car, matthew was well-behaved and not demanding that i play his music cd, that i happened to turn on my favorite catholic station, and that this segment just happened to be playing then.

there are no coincidences in life, just evidences of God watching over his little ones.

this segment concentrated on the following reasons we need to have empty hands as followers of Christ:

firstly, empty hands are best suited to being raised in gratitude and praise of the lord. we are not able to concentrate on being grateful for the things we have if we are clutching them so tightly, or gazing longingly at the things we don't have. also, hands raised in praise are not limited or weighed down by the burden of possessions. they are free and weightless, always giving glory to the one who is most worthy.

secondly, hands that are empty are hands that are free to go wherever the lord calls, to do whatever work he requires. we cannot honestly say, "send me, lord" if we are clinging to our current way of life, our current stuff. if we desire to set our hands to the plow the lord has in store, we must be willing to let go fully of all that we have now. it is just stuff after all--it is replaceable and does not bring happiness in the long haul.

thirdly, hands that are empty are best able to share in the cross and sufferings of the lord, especially in our fellow brothers and sisters. in being empty, we can minister freely to those around us who are not themselves free. there are so many in our world that are heavy-laden and broken. our open, welcoming hands not only encourage others to come to us and find the rest that comes from Jesus, but give us the strength to be there for others in their times of need.

and finally, empty hands are the only ones that will at last clutch the extended hand of Jesus, who will then guide us into heaven, into eternal joy and fulfillment. it won't matter in the end what possessions we have accumulated on earth, what our hands hold here. we take nothing but our hearts with us. if we have lived our lives with empty hands, we will discover that in the end, our hearts are unbelievably full. and we will be satisfied so much more than with earthly treasures.

so i no longer am ashamed to be empty. i no longer see it as a weakness or as something to be fixed or overcome. i just need to orient my emptiness properly, with my eyes fixed on Jesus.

i need to be empty in order that he may fill me with his love, so that i can then shower it on the world.
i need to be empty in order to receive his peace, which will carry me through every circumstance.
i need to be empty to be consumed by his light, which will shine radiant in a world of darkness.

fill me, Jesus. i desire only you.

this photo comes from the blog, Julie Loves English. i just did a random google search for "empty hands" and this image came up, which led me to this blog, which just happened to feature a poem about having empty hands. you should definitely read it: 

One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.
And I walked earth's highways, grieving.
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
"Lift your empty hands to Me!"
So I held my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more.
And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full!

-Martha Snell Nicholson

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