The young boy, roughly 12 years old, sat in the one-room, rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn Heights. He was at the desk overlooking the street below from the eighth floor. It was a clear morning, not too cool, yet not too warm. You might even say it was perfect. As he gazed out the open window, he could hear all the sounds packed into a New York minute. Street peddlers hawked their wares as if in some foreign market. A woman on the opposite side of the street hailed a taxi. The guy at the delivery truck unpacked boxes of fish for the fish market two buildings over. And the birds. Pigeons galore walked across the ledge, some brave enough to come close to the boy to see if he had any bread crumbs today. “Alright,” said the boy’s grandfather from the other side of the room. “That’s enough daydreaming. Remember what I told you…you must clear your mind of the distractions and focus on the words. Only then will you be able to put the pieces together and create magic!” Properly scolded, I set my eye back to the little notepad with all the words on it. Gradually the noise faded, and it all became clear.
Lately, I’ve had the word “empty” on my heart. You would think that with all that our family has been going through in the last year that I’ve been meditating on the negative connotation, empty as in, “I have this emptiness inside because my daughter died.” You might be inclined to think that, but then, you’d be wrong.
“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women, “Don’t be afraid! he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and He is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. Remember what I have told you.” Matthew 28:1-7
From the study guide:
“The stone was not rolled aside so Jesus could get out, but so others could get in and see that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, just as He had promised.”
The key to the Christian faith…Jesus rose from the dead. Why? For you and me. He took every sin we have ever or will ever commit. He took the stripes and wore the crown of thorns. He bled, and His blood makes us perfect in God’s eyes. But you don’t know what I’ve done! You don’t know the addictions I have! You don’t know the pain I cause people, the things I watch on TV, the music I listen to, the web sites I visit! Doesn’t matter. Jesus bought and paid for all of it…THAT’S why the tomb is empty. THAT’S why God willingly gave His one and only Son for us, because it was part of His perfect plan to do so. You can’t tell me He doesn’t know where you are. He’s already been there.
There’s another point I have to share about being empty in a good way. The way we draw nearer to God is through His word, right? Well…how can you hear His word through the noises of your mind? I mean, if there’s confusion and chaos abounding in your noggin, you may only ever scratch the surface of the greatness of God and His plan for your life. There’s a really good movie with Kevin Costner in it called “For Love of the Game”. In it, he plays a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Any time he would get ready to pitch, he would step to the mound, get into position, lean in to get the pitch, and set himself. He would then say, “Clear. The mechanism.” And all the noises in the stadium would fade away so that he and the batter were all that remained. We have to “clear the mechanism” or empty ourselves of, well, ourselves, in order to be able to be filled with all that God has in store for us.
When we first moved to Alma from Douglas, GA, I was having a hard time with it. We had such plans for the home that we lived in and for the life we were living. But we were struggling…in many different ways. Since coming here, to a smaller house (MUCH smaller house- there are WAAAAYYYY too many bras and maxi-pads around here for my liking!), a smaller town, a smaller police department, and a smaller life. I first used the term “downsizing” to describe it to a friend of mine. This Godly man then said something that put a huge smile on my face. He told me we didn’t downsize…we simplified. That was it. God simplified our lives- emptied the chaos- so that we could focus on healing, family, and most importantly, Him. Amen!
The video at the end of this post is “Empty My Hands” by Tenth Avenue North. I encourage you to watch and listen. It’s about emptying your hands, heart and mind to become a vessel waiting to be filled with His presence. I, for one, need all of Him I can get. How about you?