When your heart aches empty

Do you feel it too, this longing that creeps up and stretches you thin over the vast emptiness inside until you wonder if you might split for the longing?

Sometimes it gets buried in busyness. Sometimes it fades in the joy of being brought close and rooted in the never changing love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But sometimes the ache takes hold and won’t let go, an ache for the fulfillment of the promise, for that final consummation. An ache to be brought closer still, to feel Him and see Him and know Him whom I love as He knows me.

Sometimes I wonder how this ache can still be so great, so painful, when those of us who belong to Christ live in Him and He in us and when we have been given fullness in Christ (Col 2:9-10). Why do I still, sometimes, feel so desperately, painfully, empty?

He whispers truth. The ache does not bespeak ill health. The great void of longing is not even emptiness. It is, rather, the first aching stretchings of greater fullness. True emptiness is greedy, drawing all things into itself; a vacuum seal, released, hungrily sucks air. But this longing stretches us outward, drawing us hard toward God. It is not empty but full, less like a vacuum, sucking everything into itself, than like a balloon, stretched out over that within it, silent witness to the one whose breath fills it. This longing is the Spirit of Jesus at work within us, stretching us to create more space for that for which we most deeply long – Himself.

The same Spirit who brooded over the natal waters of the earth broods over us still, in love’s creative power, silently shaping order out of chaos and breathing life into these priceless hand-molded reflections of God.

As He shapes and stretches and breathes, what used to fill us – things and people, achievements and entertainments – rattle around in the larger space, proven too small to satisfy our center. We feel empty. We ache, longing for final union with Him by whom and for whom we were made, who alone is expansive enough to fill us.

The ache is a gift, a witness that we are longed for. We only long for Him when He is drawing us, calling to our hearts, “Please come close, for I desire you.”

“. . . Father who dances and sings
over me
who lavishes on me
incomparable riches
Your own Son
most precious gift
and everything else as well

Oh, how I want to know You
in Your fullness
in Your enormity

as much of You as I can see
and not be utterly destroyed
as much as You can pour into
little me

The edges of adequacy
are not enough

Bring me further into You
Center of all beauty

opening my eyes
stretching my heart
awakening me to Your lavishness
and enabling me to
receive and respond
in extravagance.”

(Carolyn Watts, Extravagance)

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