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June 15, 2012

Inside Out Project // Day 12

Here is another powerful excerpt from our sons, Ryan and Josh’s upcoming book Firsthand:

“Thou must be emptied of that wherewith thou art full, that thou may be filled with that whereof thou art empty.”

— St. Augustine

 

The Gift of Emptiness

When I went to college, it really hit me that I was alone—without friends, without family and without anyone else to take responsibility for my faith. It was just God and me. After realizing that no one could force me into a relationship with God, the emptiness of that relationship became impossible to ignore. The frustration turned to desperation!

We are created to desire the Creator, purposefully designed to have longings that only He can fill. George Barna writes in Maximum Faith, “The emptiness or frustration you feel reflects your failure to partner with God to grasp the meaning, purpose, wisdom, character and fulfillment He intends for you to have.” (157) In order to receive any gift, you have to draw near to the giver; you have to know the One who has a gift in store for you.

I finally started to realize that the emptiness is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a divine gift! It was the pain of my emptiness that finally drove me to become desperate enough to fall into the arms of the only one who could fill my deepest cravings. As I look back, I see that all along it was God Himself that gave me the gift of emptiness. God loves us so much and so desires a deep and real relationship with us that He created us to feel the pain of emptiness until we give up and fall into His ocean of fullness.

Without the gift of emptiness, we would never experience what a real and fulfilling relationship with our creator can be. It’s the pain of emptiness that can wake us up and help us break out of empty religiosity and become desperate for a rich and rewarding relationship with God.

There are two things for certain when you turn faith into religion and try to do all the right things to get God’s approval. Number one: You feel completely empty! Number two: You always fail! That’s because there is no way in the world we can work our way up to perfect God’s approval.

That’s the whole point of the Christian faith! God knew there was no chance for us to ever be good enough, or to follow enough rules, to gain God’s approval. Since we could never through religion work our way up to God, God came down to us!

Christ came to us and went to the cross and took on Himself all my sins and failures and crucified empty religion so I can experience a full relationship with God! Now I thank God for the horrible emptiness I felt when I turned my faith into religion.

I’m also grateful that I felt even more empty when I turned completely away from God seeking fulfillment. When we try to anesthetize the pain of emptiness with partying, drugs, pornography or a million other things, when it’s over, God allows us to feel even more empty and desperate! What we’re saying is, without emptiness, we would never turn to the source of filling! So, embrace your emptiness and turn to the only source of true fulfillment, Jesus Christ!

 

Ryan and Joshua Shook from the book Firsthand: Dumping Secondhand Religion for the Real God

Release date: March 19, 2013

Publisher: Waterbrook/Multnomah