Advent, Day 4: The Call to Empty

Haggai 2:6-7 For thus saith the Lord of hosts: once more (in a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of all nations, and I will fill this temple with glory, “says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:1 I will send my messenger who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant whom you desire will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

 

 

Only the empty can be filled.

 

It is only the holy humble, the holy empty who make way for a new coming King.

 

Holiness does not mean taking on more…more rules, more tasks, more mask-covered perfect. Holiness is a journey, a life transformation of healing and repentance of sin from the bottom up.  It is a letting go of what we’ve been grasping, what we think brings little “l” life, that leads us to being ready for true Life, the coming of the glory of God. It is a grasping onto Him, as He grasps onto us.  It is a life of embrace, arms empty so we can be filled with Him.

 

Advent was seen by the Eastern church as a second Lent, a season of preparation, of purification. In Advent we repent, become soft, open, ready, available for the coming One.  When we are stuffed up full, juggling the balance of our handmade life, there is no room for the coming of Emmanuel, the God with us. No room at the inn.  We are “fine, thank you.” No need for a Savior here.

 

Only when the earthquakes rumble deep, do we drop our loads and grasp Him tight.  And this summer with its drastic move and vocation change shook me right up. I lived fragile, empty and honestly? Fearful.  But the empty always searches to be filled. We can grasp the crinkling oreo bag, the bottle, the remote, or this…stay uncomfortably empty, open, waiting for His filling.

 

John the Baptist was an earthquake in a person. He shook the priests, the temple hierarchy, the soldiering masses. He drew them deep into the desert, out of their “normal” and challenged their idea of holy.  As they confessed, he washed them open to Jesus, open to hope in a Messiah.  Then, when Jesus stood in those same waters, the people’s ears were open in another aftershock, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.” They were ripped wide open to receive a new Word.

 

We will be shaken.  We will be sifted. Our temple will be cleaned out. The question is, are we teachable, open to the gentle whisper of the still small voice that blew past Elijah or will it take an earthquake to wake us straight up.

 

What will it take to open our hearts to receive Jesus?

 

An Advent Practice:

Create time this Advent to be uncomfortably empty. Daily. Set your timer for silence, for waiting. 

Set down the anxieties and fears of your day one by one and then open your hands to receive.

As you are still, ask God to show you what needs sifting in your life, what you are reaching for to give you your identity, your joy, your sense of completeness. 

Ask Him to strengthen your desire for Him, (I believe that even desire is a gift from God. We can’t conjure it up ourselves.)

Ask Him to clean out the overstuffed mess and open you ready to receive the fullness of God.

 

Want to read of more of my summer’s journey of shaking? Find it here.

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