When you have nothing to give

As I bring my gift, shame sometimes still creeps in, taunting me with its jabs, “It’s such a poor gift. Can’t you find anything better than this to offer a King?”
I ignore the voice and offer my gift anyway, the gift that in this moment is all I have to give: all of my longing, my emptiness, my helplessness.
The Gracious One reminds me of another woman who gave him all of her nothingness, her entire poverty. He received it as a gift of everything.
In this upside-down kingdom, it is not fullness, independence, sufficiency which the King seeks, but emptiness. Acceptance of our own inability.

“Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.” (Simone Weil)

It is grace itself which makes this void.
It is grace that lets us feel the truth of our smallness.

“Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

It is grace that fills our smallness with his greatness.

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

And it is grace that reminds us again and again that our emptiness is not a shameful gift, not a last resort because we have nothing “better” to offer, but the very thing God most wants—because he who delights to bless in the most extravagant ways wants to fill us with himself.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit (or as I’ve often heard Darrell Johnson paraphrase, “Blessed are those who know they do not have what it takes”) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)


An edited repost from the archives

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. KDSW

    This is gift to me today.

  2. Klara van der Molen

    Thank you for this as I sit helplessly next to a member of our Co-op community to whom I became a ” first response”. She is on her way to another life away from this one and words fail me. I keep thinking what else I could have done to show her Jesus love for her. Something is making her hang on against all odds– I keep on thinking of the quilt I
    made of Isaiah 35 ” the joy of the redeemed”– how to express this to her in her need to let go and enter into this new dimension?

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Dear Klara, thank you for being Jesus’ presence at this woman’s bedside. As you speak of words failing, I think of this post I wrote five years ago: http://hearingtheheartbeat.com/2012/01/28/when-words-fail/. May both you and this dear woman sense the love of the One who knows what it is to be speechless, and who is present in you and with you there by that bed, loving your neighbor silently.

      1. Klara van der Molen

        Nancy passed away last night at about 10 pm. I believe in the Jehovah Rapha, the God of perfect healing and prayed this for her. As such I shall believe prayers were answered.

  3. staceypardoe

    Carolyn, thank you for the depth you bring through your words. I always find myself challenged, encouraged, and inspired through your posts. Thank you for encouraging those who are shattered with pain, and thank you for speaking truth into the hard places of our lives. I’ve been deeply examining emptiness and inability in my own life lately. After decades of walking in my own strength and striving for self-achieved success, I am blessed by your words reminding me to embrace my weakness and emptiness. Thank you for continuing to share your gift of writing with a broken world.

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