Empty

Our favorite syrup is finished.

Our favorite syrup is finished.

We ran out of syrup.

Many months ago, I noticed our favorite pancake syrup was on sale at our local grocery store. Upon closer look, I discovered that our syrup was no longer going to be carried. So, I did what any passionate, brand-loyal, syrup aficionado would do: I bought every single bottle left.

When our supply began to run low, my husband and I began to guard each drop. What would we do without our beloved syrup? Every syrup is NOT created equal, and it had taken us years, and suffering through some rather terrible brands, to find the perfect topping to drizzle on our pancakes.

As we opened the last bottle, I knew drastic action was needed, so I hopped onto Amazon to hunt down our next bottle.

That’s when I learned our favorite syrup was discontinued by the maker. There were no more bottles.

Our syrup bottle ran dry. And, now, we are forced to use an imitation of the syrup we really loved.

It’s not the same.

I think many Christians are exactly like this empty syrup bottle. We experience the love of Jesus personally, intimately, deeply, and our lives change. We are His. We gobble up everything we can to know God better, faithfully attending church and Bible studies, growing by leaps and bounds. We are on fire for God! He has rescued us from a life without purpose and given us Kingdom work.

Then, our spiritual fervor begins to plateau. We know what we need to do, and begin to act out of duty rather than desire. It gets easy to skip a day or two of reading our Bible, and soon prayer is saved for interceding for the sick, rather than moment-by-moment communication. We still love the Lord, we just aren’t as excited about it anymore.

Finally, our hearts become dry. We begin going through the motions. We are so thirsty for something to fill us, even though we’re stuffed by our own agendas, over-filled family schedules and church committee obligations. It’s been a long time since we’ve felt the joy that comes from knowing Jesus. Imitation spirituality is causing us to starve.

We forget that from Jesus, streams of living water flow. We misplace our invitation to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. We depend on our own strength and our own ability, and end up empty.

Though I wish our syrup bottle was the same way, our souls can always be filled to overflowing.

Consider these two Scripture passages:

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

Jesus is ready to fill us, to use us and to fill us again.

Our favorite syrup brand discontinued the product, but God never gives up on us. He is always shaping us, stretching us, standing with us. His spring of life-giving water never runs dry.

Staying connected to the source is the key.

 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”

John 15:4-5, 11

Don’t settle for spiritual dryness today. Seek shelter in God’s love.

Abide in Him.

Enjoy the sunshine

Last week, our family was able to go out, without coats, and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Our family is squeezing every moment of fun that we can out of these sunny “winter” days here in Missouri. Instead of snow or ice, we have been blessed with above average temperatures these last few weeks, to the point where jackets have even been optional.

So, after lunch, I’ve been shuttling the kids outside to explore in the woods, to hide and go seek, to play on the swing set and to simply enjoy the sunshine.

I’ve noticed recently that so much of what we as Christians talk about is our struggles and the trials that we’ve had to or we are currently facing. Even I catch myself dwelling in this type of discussion, because God has taught me so much through the “valley of the shadow of death.” A common and oft-quoted saying in Christian circles is that we are either in a storm, heading out of a storm or heading toward a storm. Though I can understand the truth of that statement, I’m growing weary of focusing on the storm.

I don’t think we stop enough and bask in the pure blessing of being a child of God. We are so busy suiting up for the very real spiritual battle around us, that we shield ourselves from delighting in our victorious King. For many, Christianity is all work and no play, and it’s no wonder many faith communities are known more for their “no” rather than their “yes.”

Where is the joy? Where is the dancing? Where is the adoration bursting from our hearts onto our lips?

This week, I want to focus on the praise. I want my life to exude gratefulness to my Savior, who considers me to be His treasure. My life should sparkle before Him, cleaned by His everlasting love that defeated death itself to provide a way for me to be with Him.

I understand that life is often very difficult, and unanswered questions and hurts abound. I have lingered in those dark corners during different times in my life, and all it brought me was pain. Only when God reached down and helped me step into the Light and see the glory of His love,  was I able to leap into His arms of grace.

There is a time for everything, and as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, a time for weeping and for mourning. But, let’s not gloss over and miss our times of laughter and of peace.

Get out of the cage you have built around your heart, and breathe the fresh air of God’s mercy. Embrace the joy and freedom available to you in Jesus.

Enjoy the sunshine.

This picture makes me laugh because the kids are pretending they are actually riding this tiger like a horse.