There’s a selfish fear that lurks around and keeps us from doing the very things that bring us the most life. Yep, I titled the blog with it, so it’s no surprise. Emptiness.
If you narrow down your surface level fears to the core, it might just end up in the same place… you don’t want to be empty/alone/weak/exposed. You don’t want to fail. You don’t want to feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again.
Baby, you wanna be a firework.
I’ve done ministry a lot and it can wear and tear at you like a sport. It can hurt you if you don’t take the time to stretch, if you don’t adjust your posture, if you don’t make sure you’re doing God’s workout and not your own crazy flash diet.
Here’s my situation: I thought I could kinda slide into a small corner and hide a little bit. I wanted to lay low. I wanted to live normal and not lead for a little bit. I thought that sounded restful, and that it would feel good without the pressure.
The problem is that if you’re not pouring out, you’re stagnant. If you’re not giving what you should be giving, and not speaking what you should be speaking out into the world, into the ears that are listening for it, well… you’re holding it in. And the words are fading with you, and weighing with you. They are rotting in there, waiting to get out. And there’s a timeline, too. Words do expire. God does give you a theme for a season, and if you shy away from sharing it, you have to let those words go and listen for the current thing. It’s a painful cycle if you’re not releasing what God keeps teaching you!
The fear is that the effort of mentoring/teaching/leading/healing/working/showing up/committing is going to change your normal and your life to a point that it spins out of your control and is no longer enjoyable. The stress will then build, and there you go: empty. But it’s not true, is it?
The times in my life I can remember I felt fullest were the days I showed up with nothing and God provided everything. I remember driving to Phylla House meetings half hyperventilating, half crying, half complaining that I would probably get stood up, and show up to see 7 faces smiling at me and ready to go. My fears were wrong. I never even got fully stood up, as the other leaders would come and we’d do our own worship night, and it would bear fruit anyway.
The feeling of “I don’t know how to do this” walking in, and the feeling of “I was made to do this” walking out. That’s when I recognize God’s hand, enabling, teaching, giving me wisdom in ways I couldn’t possibly expect.
So what does the enemy do? He lures us to the thought that rest equals no ministry. Wrong! He lures us to the thought that leading is a job position and not a lifestyle of influence. Wrong again! And worst of all, he lures us to the thought that if we give, we will have less, and if we teach, we’ll be disgruntled, and if we pour out our love, time, gifts, wisdom… then we will not be filled again but rather be empty. These are the cruelest lies.
God does not fill for us to hoard. He does not give for us to keep. His kingdom is backwards, and His blessing flows like a river from heaven. It floods over us, as deep as we’re willing to advance into it. You cannot go into the depths of God while holding on to the false security of ankle-deep exposure. The safest, most logical, most delightful and life-giving thing you can possibly do is obey God, pouring yourself out like an offering for Him.
If He’s called you to write, what are you doing if not writing? Don’t kid yourself! Write! What are you doing stalling? How dare you stall when this is the gift He has given you to share with His people? WRITE! Let your words flow out. Tell your fear to take a hike and never come back.
Are you called to teach? GOOD! We need teachers. We need so many teachers. We need people who can say “God has been teaching ME! Let me TELL YOU what He’s been teaching ME!” and they just teach THAT. That’s plenty good. Pass what you have. Pass the little lessons you understand along the way. Trust me, it’s plenty, plenty good. You don’t have to learn Greek and Hebrew to talk about God and about His faithfulness to you. You don’t need a degree of any kind to teach about Jesus. Jesus is a person you have a relationship with, who just so happens to be the Son of God. If you were to teach a whole room about your mom, you wouldn’t be like “OMG, what if they ask me something I don’t know about her, what would I even say?!” Chill out. You know Him because you spend time with Him. Teach that, ye who are called to teach and are so burdened with raising up the next generation. Congratulations! You care! It’s great! Stop waiting for someone to tell you you’re allowed to do the thing you were born to do. Just go do it, for crying out loud.
Are you called to heal? Counsel? Go to those dark places? Are you called to crawl into the pits and sit with the hurting, just sit with them? Yep, it doesn’t sound too fun, does it? Because you can’t just clap your hands and make them better, can ya? YET you are SO compassionate and SO understanding of the pain of others. You know just what to say, and what NOT to say, which is the better part of that gift. You know how to sit in the silence and hold a weeping person. Their snot doesn’t gross you out that bad. You are a tear-wiper, and you make people laugh-cry, which is the best kind of laugh, the one on a puffy crying face, when they feel a little bolt of joy in the middle of their super intense grief. You love people really well, and you need to do just that. Don’t isolate yourself, and don’t let the enemy lie to you about your rest. Get your rest from Jesus, and keep saying “YES” when He gives you someone to love. He is always bringing the hurt ones to you, and it’s your choice and your reward to keep stepping into the low places and lifting chins to heaven. Or not! You can go weeks, months, years without operating in your gift of healing and your gift of mercy, but it’s like breathing to you, and you should want to breathe. Darling, you should want to breathe like this.
Oh and if you think I’d let you off the hook, you artists and worshipers of God, nope. YOU need to paint, to create, to sing, to dance, play your instrument, please. Please. Because earth does need to look like heaven, and heaven has the kind of beauty God hid in you to create here for ME and I want it. We want it. Please. Don’t be afraid that it isn’t perfect. It’s the right kind of perfect. It’s raw and real, honest. There’s a beauty in imperfection that makes it just so… perfect. Put it out there. Don’t let them tell you it’s not real because it’s not numbers and cold hard facts. Doodle on, doodler. I need you. We actually NEED you. You’re priceless and you hold a priceless piece of the Father’s heart. Don’t let the cubicle jobs and the pressure choke the creativity out of you, okay? Okay.
I pray away the fear of emptiness that would keep a saint like you from doing the holy thing you were made to do, the very thing that fills you up, and the exact shred of the heart of God you carry in your DNA. You will not, by God’s grace, ever run empty. You will not, by God’s mercy, ever burn out. You will shine like a city on a hill, with a light that was never meant to flicker or sit hidden. Your confidence will be like a wave, as you crash consistently unto the shore of your core purpose. May it be so, that your life is lived to its utmost, for the glory of the Almighty God who has gifted you with competence, authority, and identity. You are His own, never alone, and never forsaken. Pour out all your love, and watch as He fills you back up, over and over, and to overflow.