I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
Fullness… well that sounds like an easy word, right?! In our second session of our book Uninvited we are given a statement from Lysa Terkeurst:
‘I can choose to bring my emptiness or God’s fullness into any situation I face.’
It is a simple statement yet holds so much power. I can choose… I have a choice on whether I allow my past rejections to take root and cause me to enter future friendships or relationships with fullness already or emptiness, seeking fullness. I can’t tell you how nervous I get whenever I am around people. Not just people I don’t know but even people I have known for a while. All of my insecurities from childhood creep in and create a feeling of fear. What if I say something weird? Which has happened quite often. I get nervous and my brain shuts off. I sound like a crazy lady whose only form of communication comes in meows to the many cats she resides with. Seriously, how have I made it this long with some of the things that have come out of my mouth?! But why do I seem to get so nervous? It is me choosing my emptiness instead of God’s fullness. I go into the situation looking for validation that despite my many flaws that person or group of people will like me. I enter the room looking for what will fill those holes from past rejections. I mean that is what happens when we feel rejected from what people say or do in our lives, right?! We allow each rejection to take hold and eat at who we were created to be. They make holes in our hearts that need to be filled.
What do we do about the holes that rejections make? It is inevitable to get these holes. People can be mean, they can be ruthless, and they can push you down so they succeed. It is impossible to not run into somebody who will kick punch a hole right in the center of who you are. You know that saying, ‘Misery loves company’? I’m sure everybody has met that person that can’t stand to be miserable on their own. They need to make sure somebody else feels the pain they feel as well. So they go through life and when they stumble across somebody who has a little bit of joy they throw a quick ‘HI-YAH!’ at you and BAM, hole. But just like that Negative Nelly, you have the choice on what to do with that hole. You can choose to live in that emptiness or you can choose to fill those holes with God.
In Acts we get a glimpse of the fullness that Paul walked in. This dude was sold on Christ and wanted to let everybody know about it. However, before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus he was that Negative Nelly. He was empty.
Paul, before he became a Christian, sought his fullness from the worldly success of his day. At the time of Stephen’s stoning, Acts 7:58 tells us that the witnesses laid their robes at Paul’s (at that time Saul) feet. The shedding of their robes during a stoning was a part of their regular practice and the fact that they lay them at Paul’s feet shows that he was trusted by authoritarians at that time. His opinion and approval meant enough that in Acts 8:1 it tells us:
Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Since Saul was in agreement with the death of Stephen the persecution of the church was greatly increased. The persecution was lead by the man himself as well. Acts 8:3 says:
But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.
Also in Acts 9:1-2 tells us:
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Talk about mean and ruthless. He didn’t wait to pass them on the road but went into their homes and hunted Christians down in an attempt to strip any fullness these people had with his patent pending ‘Hi-Yah’-to-jail-you-go move. He couldn’t let them be a reminder of the emptiness he felt. Much to his dismay, the success he sought after in this world did not bring him the fullness his soul longed for.
But just when it seemed pretty hopeless for Saul, Jesus steps in and something amazing happens.
As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
It’s amazing how quickly Jesus is able to patch the holes of hurt and rejection up. Regardless of what we all say about God, our soul knows and longs for the only One who can fill those holes. If you look at the first part of the scripture above it says ‘he said, “Who are You, Lord?”‘ Paul knew full well who he was talking to. Our hearts know but sometimes our mind likes to live in rejection of the One True King. Our minds push to fill that emptiness with other things. Other things like our jobs, our children, our friendships, or our attaining more things in this world. These things are not bad in and of themselves. Jobs can be a blessing, children are a gift from God, friendships are a gift as well, and having belongings is okay. But when we try to fill the emptiness inside with these things is where we get in trouble. We need to walk into a room knowing that His love is what fills us. We need enter the world knowing that no matter what you do He is King. He personally crafted your inner most being. Instead of going into the world and asking how can this make me whole, we need to be going into the world made whole by God. Only then can we begin to ‘Live Loved’.