I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty….. (Ruth 1:21).
At work, I have had the honorable task of taking out the trash from time to time. These are heavy, stinky trash bags that take a concerted effort to dispose of. In fact, yesterday I even took out a few more than what was expected of me. It was needed and necessary, but it was also very hard work. I did not delight in it, but I knew it needed to happen.
Could it be that God operates the same way in our lives? The trash heaps that lie within our hearts is the place where He is working to make us new. We all come with our messes, some of our messes are bigger than others. Some lies and stories we have written on our hearts for so long that the garbage has piled up quite high. In His love, He starts to dispose of the refuse we have stored up in our hearts. I don’t think God delights in the process, but He knows it is needed and necessary. He knows it is for our good. It is often a painful process as our trash heaps become a place of comfort and safety for us when God says, “Please, let me dispose of that, I’m trying to make you new.”
I’ve got to be honest, I can totally relate to Naomi’s statement here in the book of Ruth. “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.” Unfortunately, Naomi makes this statement in a place of bitterness. She even changes her to name to Mara, which means, bitter. Could it be she grew bitter because Naomi spent a number of years in a place far away from the tabernacle of God in Moab? Moab was a place where false gods would be reverenced and worshipped. Some of us have strayed from God too or stayed out of His word for far too long and when trouble strikes we quickly become bitter over what life has brought our way.
I’ve been there, in a place of resentment, a place where my heart starts to grow cold. I have said terrible things to people I love in places of bitterness and resentment. The thing is, God is always trying to work something out of us so He can work something new into us. His emptying is not punishment, it is for our good.
I hear the Lord saying to me, “Heather, I am doing a new thing, it’s coming, be patient.” I sense Him calling me to fast and pray so that He might further cleanse my heart. I hear His voice, calling me, to believe Him with great expectation. The problem arises when we focus so much on the process of being emptied that we forget God is doing it to fill us with something new. Whenever we grow angry over the emptying our growth as Christians stalls and sometimes God has to keep going back to the same place because we shut off our hearts when He was on His way to filling up our hearts with His love and blessing. We never know when the moment of His filling will come, but we must wait with great expectation for the Lord to fill our lives, for His glory, in Jesus name.
Sovereign Lord, you are doing a new thing. Thank you for emptying my heart. Thank you for the deep humbling you are doing in my life. Thank you that your no just means a better yes is coming. Thank you that you are filling me, even now, with more of your love. Pour out your grace upon me in this season and grow my heart to be just like yours, in Jesus name, Amen!