Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful for the Empty

I remember as a little girl being taught to say "thank you". Some of the "magic words", they say.
My chubby little hands full of whatever thing I had wanted or had been was always supposed to end up with a "thank you".
But no one tells you when you are little that you will have to learn to say thank you with empty hands.

When you are staring at Thanksgiving Day for the first time without a grandparent, it feels empty.
When you are faced with a day all about thanks, but friendships once present are painfully absent.
When you are walking through daily life with the glass of fractured and broken realtionships painful all in your soul, and you're supposed to be grateful.
I'm not gonna lie.
Thankfulness is tough.

Life shoves you up under the water and then you hear a muffled yell, "Be thankful!"...when all you want to do is breathe.
You can only pretend you have air in your lungs for so long. At some point, stuff starts shutting down and you are sinking to the bottom.
Empty places make you feel like that.
And thank you is hard.
I'm not just talking about routine thank you's in the middle of lack, though.
Finding ways to give thanks in the voids of life is one thing. 
But the hard place God has been leading me? To give thanks for them.
Being the good girl, I want to scurry around and stay busy making lists of all that I do have- a good practice...but not without its ulterior motives. 
See, I rationalize that if I keep my mind busy enough, it won't continuously remind my heart of the aching, gaping hole. 
But all the while, the Lord is asking me to stop and stand up right in the middle of that empty place and learn to praise Him for what isn't there.
He wants me to trust Him in the taking so I can believe Him for the filling.
He wants me to be grateful for the absence so I can be more aware of His presence.
Saying thank you as you hand over something you don't want to give away? That's tough.
Saying thank you again and again as you stand empty handed for what seems like forever? It feels impossible.
But God.
His grace will take you where you cannot go on your own- right to the middle of that empty place.
Because I promise that is where I have found-and you will find- His loving arms hold you the tightest, His promises ring the truest, His hope shines the brightest, His presence is the fullest.
So I am learning to take a deep breath of grace, and hold out these hands-remembering the empty hands that Jesus stretched out for me.
Because His empty hands led to an empty tomb!
The stone wasn't just rolled away so Jesus could get was so we could see in
Otherwise, we would have assumed death resided there! 
They had to look at the empty place so they could see that it gave rise to LIFE! 
Jesus gave me an empty tomb to be thankful for so that I can give thanks for my empty places. 
He turns misery into marvel.
He grows a garden of gratitude from the gaping holes of life.
With Jesus, LIFE always comes breaking out of the empty places!

It's true, I'm all grown up now. 
But to be perfectly honest, I still feel periodically inclined to have a tantrum about what isn't in my hands.
But God.
God is teaching me to say "thank you" instead. Not because they are magic words, but because they are words full of power and life.
Maybe you, too, are faced with your empty in this season of gratitude.
Don't lose hope: LOOSE it in the middle of your empty place by thanking God for the life that will most assuredly spring from it.

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:19

"...Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. ” 
Romans 4:17-18 The Message

"But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened."
Luke 24:12

Share #SimpleTruth today:
"God wants me to trust Him in the taking so I can believe Him for the filling." -@JuliePMac #SimpleTruth #emptyhands #thankfulheart

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