The emptying and filling of ministry

I am emptied.

I am filled.

I often wonder what I thought ministry would be when I first felt impressed upon the calling of God on my life.  It definitely was not what ministry has proven to be.

Oh I knew ministry would be difficult, having been raised in a pastor’s parsonage for the earliest part of my life.  I just didn’t know the kind of difficult it would be, if that makes sense.

You see there is a sort of dance that takes place….

I am emptied.

I am filled.

I feel burdened; weighed down by many things.  Oh I’m used to dealing with my own questions of inadequacy for the calling God has placed upon me.  But I did not fully grasp the weight that the brokenness of a people – God’s people, thus my people – would bear on my heart and soul.

People share with me and their pain, their hurt, even their sin and the sins of those bruising and scarring them, presses onto my heart.  It twists and rips it.  My gut is wrenched as if I were kicked and punched repeatedly.  Tears fill my eyes and spill over onto my cheeks.   The brokenness that is hurting them, hurts me.  It is as if I eat the sin of those I love as I bear their burdens with them.  Some kind of John Coffey moment.

But as the stress and the pain and the weight push out all confidence in myself, push out all thoughts that I can handle the role of pastor – emptying me… I am filled.

I am filled with the joy of the Lord.  I am filled with the idea of suffering servant who is happiest in eating the bad, shouldering the burden and wielding the sword of prayer in a spiritual battle on behalf of my faith family.  How is possible that the depths of love for people I barely know resonates so deeply in my soul that I would gladly trade my life so that they may live?

I am emptied…

I am filled…

It is both the hardest thing I have endured and the most blessed thing at the same time.  Emptied of the idea that I could do it and filled with the reality that He – only Jesus Christ – can, is a glorious and painful blessing.

The process is like a hammer refining me; it’s like a pendulum that swings, sanctifying me through and through and through and through…

I am emptied…

I am filled…

I am emptied of me.  I am filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is a dance, gloriously painful, but gloriously blessed.

It is beautiful, it is glorious, it is death but it is life…. death to me, life in Him, again and again and again.

Oh! That some might be saved! Oh! That some might be restored! OH! That He might gain glory from this life; what a privilege.

I am emptied.

I am filled.

Peace gracefully fills my soul.  It is well, because of Him.  Because of Jesus.

Amen.

 

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