I first wrote this in 2012, the summer I met my husband. God chose to fill these empty hands, a completely unexpected blessing.
God has been teaching me about empty hands. When I have a felt need–loneliness, insecurity, a plan–I know that God is the only one who can truly satisfy that need. Still, for some reason, I settle for substitutes. Without realizing it I say with where I place my affections and what I do with my actions, “In the mean time, until God steps in, this is better than nothing”. But you know what? The thing about empty hands is that sometimes they have to stay empty. God calls me to be empty until he chooses to fill me. This is what we call being expectant and waiting on God. I can’t wait on God expectantly while at the same time taking my needs elsewhere.
Two passages were powerful in solidifying this lesson in my life: First, Isaiah 30:18-28. Verse 18 says that God “waits to be gracious”–not just that he has the power to step in but that he WAITS to step in, He anticipates being able to extend grace into our needs. Yet, if this is His desire why is He still waiting? The end of the verse provides insight into this question: “blessed are all those who wait for Him.” And in verse 19, “He will be gracious to you at the sound of your cry”. While we still have idols (v. 22) there is no space for the real Answer; we have to wait for HIM.
Next, Psalm 81. I’ve always loved verse 10: “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Yet I never noticed that there is a prerequisite in this passage. Before God says to open our mouth he first says we have to empty it– “There shall be no strange god among you”. Being filled by the true need-filler requires making Him the only alternative. God or nothing.
The challenge for my life and for yours is whether we will take the message of the gospel at its word when Jesus pleads (to whatever it is that you are doing because you think you have to): “You don’t need this! You don’t need this! Have faith in me.”*
*quote from the movie The Lives of Others