God Does His Best Work With Empty, by Nancy Guthrie
24/25 | Started 05.17.21 • Finished 07.16.21 | 5 stars
I think emptiness is something that all of us have felt at one time or another, and especially likely during this last year or so when we've all dealt with the loneliness and isolation of the pandemic.
It is amazing to me how heavy the weight of emptiness can feel, how much room emptiness can take up in our souls, how much pain can be caused by something that isn't even there. You may have come to see your emptiness as your greatest problem, but I hope to convince you that when God sees the emptiness in your life, he sees is as his greatest opportunity.
In eight sections, Guthrie invites us to see exactly how God sees our emptiness as his greatest opportunity and fills us up. We look at the story of the wandering Israelites to see how God fills our emptiness with his provision. We look at the the garden of Eden, the tabernacle, and the incarnation to see how he fills us with his presence. We see in the story of Ruth how God fills us with His grace.
What we see again and again, from the beginning to the end of the Bible, is that God repeatedly gives his people what they don't deserve. It's called grace. We think we want this life to be fair, but that's not really what we want. In a perfectly fair world, there's no room for grace, for getting what we don't deserve. It is this undeserved favor, the grace of God, that proves to be the defining element in our lives.
Guthrie shows us how God fills our emptiness with kindness by looking at the story of David and Mephibosheth. We look at the idea of thirst in the Bible to see how God fills us with life. We walk through Ecclesiastes to understand how God fills our emptiness with meaning. We learn about trust from Habakkuk, whom God filled with faith. And finally, we see in the idea of everlasting treasure that God ultimately fills our emptiness with joy.
The day is going to come when we will be able to see that God indeed did his best work in our lives as he gave us the grace to empty ourselves of what was once so valuable, so important to us, and in the process, filled us with joy. Anticipatory joy now. Eternal joy in his presence.... Forever pleasures replacing the fleeing pleasures of your life. Fullness of joy infused into the emptiness of your life.
The concluding chapter is one long prayer from Guthrie to the reader, which was profoundly helpful as a means to understanding why and how I should pray in light of what I learned through this book. It can't be about filling our emptiness with the things that we want, the things we see as good and true and helpful. It has to be about being filled to overflowing with him - it's the kind of relationship we were made for.
"The fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19, NIV) filling up our "inner being" is the ultimate answer to our emptiness.