The Empty Plate

During the holiday season, our senses are barraged by all manner of stimuli that scream for our attention and threaten to suffocate us. Is it really possible to cultivate a heart of gratitude at Thanksgiving when budgets are tight, to-do lists are impossibly long, jobs are in jeopardy, relationships are rocky, and stamina is waning?  Moreover, Christmas arrives hard on the heels of Thanksgiving.  For some, the Christmas season is fraught with too many gifts to buy, too many events to attend, too many people to please.  For others, it is a season of profound pain and isolation exacerbated by the synthetic merriment of our commercial culture.  At the end of it all, our plate looks sadly empty.  A promised season of gratitude and feasting too often leaves us hungry for something less fleeting, something more lasting that seems continually to elude us.

What good is faith, if it doesn’t accomplish anything until we receive our ticket to heaven?  What good is the gift of Jesus, if He waits until we die to transform us and those around us?  What good is eternal life, in fact, if it only means we spend endless years in the squirrel cage of frenzy?  Why bother filling our plate if it somehow remains empty?

I believe that this overwhelming sense of hollowness has its root in a lack of understanding of what Jesus died to give us.  If we think that His kingdom belongs only to Him and that we must wait until we die to even hope for a taste of eternal life, then we are powerless, hopeless people indeed!  In fact, the Bible tells us that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom! (see Luke 12:32) With the birth of Emmanuel (God-With-Us), God invaded Earth with His life-giving, transforming power and presence.  Our faith in the Living, Resurrected Savior gives us access to His life NOW!  Our plates need not be empty, and our hearts need not be hollow. The enemy of our soul loves to lie to us, consume us with cares and worries and burden us with thoughts of what we cannot do.  He loves to trick us into thinking that HIS hopelessness and fruitlessness (the enemy’s days are numbered — read the end of the Book!) are OURS!  Somehow, in the fray of life, we tend to believe him rather than believing God!

However, Jesus, the Lord of lords and King of kings, came to give us abundant life — a full plate that is full to overflowing.   That plate is full of salvation, joy, provision for every need, healing, deliverance from addictions, and freedom from torment.  It is full of acceptance, not rejection.  It is full of belonging, not isolation.  It is full of comfort, not affliction and abuse.  Dare to ask Him to give you Kingdom transformation now.  Dare to ask Him for what seems impossible.  It is His PLEASURE to give you His life in exchange for your sorrows.

This holiday season, may the Holy Spirit open our eyes to see what He has placed on our plate.  May we feed on Him and His abundant supply, right in the face of our all-too-apparent insufficiency and inadequacy.  May we feast on His joy, His deliverance, His healing.  May we dare to ask Him for second helpings, thirds, and even more of Himself!  May He fill the longing and heal the gnawing pain in our hearts.  May He overflow us with His love.  May the mouth of the liar be stopped, and may our eyes be opened to God’s glorious, indescribable gift to us of Himself!  May His Kingdom invade us now — not just later!

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