Monday, June 4, 2007

Monday Moment: Chasing Away the Empty

I have seen all the things
that are done under the sun;
all of them are meaningless,
a chasing after the wind.

-Ecclesiastes 1:14

(Ah, I'm so glad you aren't third graders. You tell them the story of Paul and Barnabas and their first missionary journey. You tell them about how people who didn't want to hear about Jesus tried to stone Paul to death - "with BIG rocks". Then you tell them that despite their troubles, Paul and Barnabas kept preaching, teaching and encouraging each other and early Christians in their faith. And at the end of the day, as everyone's packing up colored-on papers and crafts and stickers, you ask them: what did we learn today?

"'Bout Paul and Barn... uh... 'bout Paul and how they 'couraged people to throw rocks at each other."

Oh geez.

Again, I'm so glad you guys aren't in third grade.)

Actually, it's strange how as third graders we can feel more satisfied with life than as an adult. You know? There's so much to look forward to at that age: junior high, high school, getting a job, getting married, having babies. It's the age that work seems cool and cars are even cooler and everyone wants a house and a baby and a lawnmower. (Especially a riding lawnmower, apparently.) And then... we reach that age. We acquire things and people along the way, and suddenly - one morning - we look around and think, is this ALL there is? I must be missing something. What am I missing? Why do I still feel like this isn't good enough?

It's funny how much of our lives we devote to filling this hole. We shop. We read. We create. We pour ourselves into others: our kids, our family, our employers. We eat. We plan trips or events and once the excitement of everything wears off... once the new is old and we've been there and done that... there it is again: that emptiness. I don't know about you, but it camped at the edge of my bed. Every morning I got up and every night I went to sleep, there it was. It tucked me in and woke me up, the emptiness did.

I always thought a successful career would fulfill me. It didn't. I was miserable. But I held on, thinking a marriage would fill me up. Oh gosh. It didn't, and I lost much more than I was ever willing to give. I thought maybe restoring a big, historic home would give me the challenge and escape and sense of accomplishment I needed. It hasn't.

Solomon had the same trouble. Solomon was a ruler of the Jewish nation and wrote the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. He was very wealthy, very wise, and had it all. And yet 14 verses into his book he writes: I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Modern day example: Britney Spears. Lindsay Lohan. Paris Hilton. These girls have everything. More than most of us could dream of. Why aren't they happy? Why are they all in jail and rehab? Obviously record deals and having clubs named after you isn't it what it takes to chase away the empty. Gosh. Everywhere you look all you see is a bunch of empty people. We're a collection of empty vessels.

But we don't have to be. In Matthew 16, Jesus is talking and says: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?...

Our preacher tackled this Sunday. "Do you want to live a life that counts?" he asked. "Live your life for Jesus." Sounds hooky. Ridiculous almost. Maybe even I would roll my eyes and continue on with my life ... except... except it works. As a new year's resolution, I decided to adopt Micah 6:8 as my motto: "He has shown thee, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." I decided to try my life that way - following Him. Walking with my God. And you know what? For the first time in 28 years, my life is full. My life is full of joy. It's not always easy. It's not always barrels of fun. I don't get a minute more rest than I did. But at the end of the day I feel such blessed peace. I have such reassuring hope. And all that emptiness? Gone. It's like a long, bad dream.

Maybe you need to come to terms with your relationship with Jesus. Maybe you have, but life's still lacking. If you're tired of chasing after the wind and ready to chase away the empty, I dare you: throw it down. Throw it all down. The emptiness. The disappointments. The hopes. The fears. Throw them down, pick up that cross and follow Jesus. See where He leads you. See what living a life that counts feels like. It's your decision.

But know this: ultimately, at the end of it all, nothing will matter save our decisions. Our decision to accept God or ignore God. Or decision to follow Jesus or follow ourselves. Our decision to chase the wind or chase away the empty. It's up to you and your vessel to decide....

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. Hope to see you again next Monday!


Anonymous said...

You said it so well Brin! We need to fill that vessel with Jesus and keep filling it. And it does take work but in the end it is what will fulfill us like nothing else can.

Unknown said...

I think people expect too much and aren't grateful for what they have leaving them feeling let down and wanting more. Great post Brin as always!!

Mary said...

Brin, just checking in as I've been too busy to keep up with everyone.........and look at all I've missed!

Sorry about the break in, rather disconcerting, but thank goodness all is OK and you were not harmed.
Perhaps you need a big doggie!

The garden tour led by Gracie is amazing - that you have fruit to pick and veggies to munch already is surprising, mine are just starting to climb, however see a few flowers on tomatoes and cucumbers today after a long awaited rain on Sunday.....ooooh! it was fabulous as I held my face to the sky and felt it's glory. God was thinking of us and our gardens and fields.
Have a great week - know it will be busy!
Hugs, Mary.

Kathleen Grace said...

Wonderful devotional Brin. We have actually been studying this in our Adult Bible Fellowship. It is so easy to get caught up in the worlds message that "stuff" is what it's all about. Stuff breaks, gets lost and eventually goes to someone else when we are gone, only what we are and allow Jesus to make us is of any lasting value.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brin.

Anonymous said...

Did you know Micah 6:8 is GreatGrandmother's favorite verse? Yup. Auntie M

Angela Monique Brewer said...

My cousin, Anne Brewer directed me to your blog...what a wonderful message to us all. Michah 6:8 is also one of my favourite really sums up what our Christian lives should be. Thanks.

Lallee said...

Aren't you glad God loves us soooooo much that He won't let us be satisfied being filled with anything but Himself? Wonderful post, Brin. I look forward to your Monday Moment every week!

Anonymous said...

Brin, Your post was wonderful. I really needed those words...more than you know! You are truly a blessing to me and I know to many others as well. Thanks! Linda

Anonymous said...

And we shall all try to be like kids, shan't we :-)

Seawashed said...

Brin...I just love your blog. I love your thoughts/teachings on emptiness and finding fullfillment in laying yourself down in Jesus. Finding your belonging there, nestled in His loving side. A simple life comes from such a heart. And joy illuminates from this simple life you are living at Freeman house. I am happy I found your blog and will visit often. I do think I may have visited it sooner if it was named something more sweet...maybe even, *Freeman House*. Just a suggestion. Please come by and visit me at ~Sea Cottage~

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Brin, this is a great post!!
I love how your writing mixes the Biblical truth with the go girl!