Emptiness {a Christmas reflection}.....

I sat down to write an update on everything that has transpired since I last wrote here, but I didn't quite know where to start.

Throughout 2019, our family was struck over and over again with unplanned and overwhelming circumstances. We continued to homeschool, purchased our first home and moved when I was nine months pregnant, fought a nasty lice infestation for several weeks, and welcomed our surprise bundle of joy at the end of November. Adam continued to work on (and complete) ten chapters of his doctoral project in the book of I Peter as well as learning the ropes of being a home owner for the first time. Three weeks into being a family of six, I experienced two grand mal seizures for the first time in eleven years. This landed me back in the hospital, on a new medication, and now unable to drive for six months.

Throughout the year, I noticed a troubling pattern emerging in my life. I like to think that I rely on Christ for my strength and that I find unshakeable joy in Him alone, but each difficulty pointed to the fact that I more readily look to myself for those things. The problem is that while I possess some stamina of my own, each trial stripped a little more of it away.

I sit here on the Sunday morning before Christmas missing church once again due to the stomach bug, and I am empty. All of the things that I cling to for my identity have been stripped away. The Bible study I hoped to teach at church this past summer sits on my computer unfinished. The worship team continues to lead the congregation at the weekly services without my help at the keyboard. My physical body has been failing me and my post-baby brain is still fuzzy.  We haven't had school since the second week in November.  I have failed at the holiday traditions that accompany this month. We have no festive family pictures to send in cards or any homemade treats to give to our new neighbors.

It strikes me that this emptiness might be the most beautiful gift I could receive this December. It's easy to claim my reliance on Jesus but functionally depend on my own strength. It's easy to give recommendations to my friends on the best Bible study but neglect my own personal relationship with my Savior. It's easy to offer help to those in need but hide my own struggles under a pasted-on smile.

Being stripped of everything that offers me shallow hope and fleeting pride forces me to turn to the One who stripped Himself voluntarily of His glory for me. He emptied Himself so that I can be filled with true hope, lasting peace, and deep joy in even the worst of days.

I don't know what you have faced in the last twelve months. Maybe you have felt unseen or unwanted. Maybe you hope that this new decade will finally bring the answers and relief that you desire. Maybe you are weary physically or emotionally.

I do know, however, that there is fullness of joy in the One who put on our broken flesh and lived a life of perfection only to be crushed for you. There is a new identity available for you in the finished work of Jesus at the cross. There is hope in your darkness because He crushed the power of sin at His resurrection. We eagerly long for our new bodies free from pain and weakness when He comes again!

Thank God for the blessing of emptiness because without it I would never understand the fullness He offers!

As we head into 2020, I hope you will reflect on this beautiful truth with me (listen to a beautiful acoustic version of this song by clicking on the link at the end)......

Oh the mercy our God has shown 
To those who sit in death's shadow
The sun on high pierced the night
Born was the Cornerstone

Unto us a Son is given, unto us a Child is born 

He who is mighty has done a great thing 
Taken on flesh, conquered death's sting
Shattered the darkness and lifted our shame 
Holy is His name

Oh, the freedom our Savior won
The yoke of sin has been broken 
Once a slave, now by grace
No more condemnation

Now my should magnifies the Lord
I rejoice in the God who saves
I will trust His unfailing love 
I will sing His praises all my days

He Who is mighty has done a great thing
Taken on flesh, conquered death's sting 
Shattered the darkness and lifted our shame
Holy is His name

He Who Is Mighty - Sovereign Grace Music