“The emptiness of an open heart creates a cavity for God to fill, but a closed mind never receives.” -Bishop T.D. Jakes
I blinked and my pupils dilated in the dark. I jerked my head forward, banging my nose against the wall. I rolled onto my back and lifted my upper body with my elbows, trying to figure out where I was. I saw the outside light lining the shut door of my prayer room. I faced the door and followed the sunlit edge with my eyes, thinking back to God’s promise:
“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me” (Revelation 3.8 NLT) (emphasis added).
No matter what I do or how I feel that door has always been shut, and I had fallen asleep praying it open like a desperate king. A promised unfilled has made my heart sick, but my hope is fastened to the Tree of Life (Proverbs 13.12 NIV). I grasp a promise that I gain freely by grace, and I see a door that I claim opened by faith.
My Bible reading led me to King Hezekiah. His life was over; but as he lay in his bed dying, he leaned his face against the wall and prayed to God.
“Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (2 Kings 20.2-3 NKJV) (emphasis added).
God pulled the shadow on the sundial back for Hezekiah and gave him 15 more years of life (2 Kings 20.10) (2 Kings 20.6). I covet the second miracle; though, the first is a greater demonstration. Hezekiah wrote a song, a declaration, of God’s love and mercy: “The living, the living man, he shall praise You. As I do this day….” (Isaiah 38.19 NKJV) (emphasis added). The prophets are moved by the words of a king and write them down next to their own. And I wonder at Hezekiah’s joy of receiving life that His song became part of the Word of God.
I didn’t weep bitterly, I thought, as I got up and turned on the light. I sat down at my desk and reread the underlined verses in my Chronological Bible—2 Kings and Isaiah side-by-side. But I have wept bitterly over the years, and my mind replays my cries of disappointment and disillusionment; there are dozens of them.
I looked at my journal, eyeing the note I had scrawled before turning off the lights and lying on the ground, paralleling my body against the wall.
“I am not perfect. I will stumble and fall. Many people won’t like or agree with me. I will say stupid things and make stupid decisions. BUT if I could simply remember to HUMBLE myself and give ALL glory to You, I will be okay.”
I have fallen into a hole of humility, breaking my will to dust. I sit surrendered at the bottom, waiting for God to move. I am so empty of self that I feel vulnerable. But I need to be filled. I’m called a vessel, and I can’t be hollow for long–something will fill me.
“Fill me, God!”
I’m so desperate for God’s arm that I miss His correction. I yearn for the movement of His hand cutting away layers of indifference, denial, ignorance and sin. What more do I have to expose? I see the flaws of my humanity ever before me. I’m a sinner with a heart to please a perfect God. The pain of conviction seems better than this stillness of surrender.
“God, I am empty!”
What will I do with the emptiness?
What will I consume to fill my soul?
What will my stripped branches produce?
Where will my free will take me?
I will walk in the pleasure of the Lord.
I will fulfill the promises He has ordained.
I will make the Promise Land my home.
And I will enter heaven with confidence.
I won’t face the wall with my prayer. I won’t close the door and pour the oil. I won’t hide in caves and sing hymns. I won’t preach in the wilderness to the crowds. I won’t bear the lashes of Roman persecution. But I will write my own story of salvation, and wear my own scars of sanctification. I will take up my own cross of forbearance, and mark my own path of faith. And I will stretch out my arms and let Him slay me, so I can walk in His glory and reward.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5.5 NIV).