I sat with our retreat speaker on the hard folding chairs, tears streaming and words choked.
I was in my early thirties, a mom of two boys, wife to one in the military, and I had a life I should have loved. And yet, there I was. Desperately empty and needing to be filled.
Not unlike another woman thousands of years ago.
She was destitute and desperate. Her husband died and left her with two young sons and a mountain of debt. Her creditors threatened to take her sons as slaves in order to satisfy her debt.
The man of God asks her what she has available.
One flask of olive oil.
Bring every empty vessel you have. Borrow every empty jar you can. Pour what you have into each vessel until it’s full.
They did what he said to do and ended up with enough to pay off all of their debts as well as continue to provide for their livelihood.
The miracle of the unending oil.
Between the sobs, I asked Jesus for the miracle of being filled with him. And for the next couple of years I knew the joy of the Holy Spirit’s fullness. I was thirsty for Jesus. I was as empty as empty could be and Jesus never failed to fill.
Then life happened, things got tough, and the filling slowed. I was still thirsty. I was still reading my Bible. I was still praying. But I was full of other things. Anger. Hurt. Depression. Stress. Busyness.
Just as the oil stopped flowing when the woman and her sons ran out of empty jars, the filling of my empty places by Jesus stopped because the Lord cannot fill and satisfy what is not empty.
Being thirsty and desperate yet too full to be filled by Jesus is not a good place to be.
The promise of the Holy Spirit is that when we come empty, He is faithful to fill. The Holy Spirit is our Wellspring; our unending source of life-giving and life-sustaining provision.
It seems contradictory to say it is good to be empty when we really want to be full. But unlike the oil that was enough to last, our filling from the Lord doesn’t last. We must continually come before the Lord empty. Empty of self. Empty of pride. Empty of all of the things that keep us too full to draw from the wellspring of God’s filling.
We too can know the miracle of the unending oil. We too can know our debts are all paid and our lives are provided for.
We can know this when we come to Jesus … empty.