The Practice of Emptying

Throughout our current sermon series, I want to take an opportunity to expand on something that I wasn’t able to dive into on Sunday morning.  While looking at the first statement of the Beatitudes, “blessed are the poor in spirit,” I mentioned the spiritual discipline of emptiness.

Emptiness is completely counter to the cultural that we live in. Shows like Storage Wars and Pawn Stars have glamorized accumulating stuff and wealth, there are All-You-Can-Eat buffets that encourage you to stuff yourself until you can’t anymore. So what would it even look like to empty ourselves and take on that posture of being poor in spirit?

It starts with an attitude of humility. There is no way we can adopt a poor spirit if we have a low view of being poor. Time and time again in the Bible the poor are celebrated and uplifted, yet now poverty is something we strive to avoid or get out of. Perhaps it’s time to eliminate clutter and excess in our lives that we’ve accumulated. Find an organization to donate to, talk to people in your sphere of influence and see if someone is in need. But it’s more than just a physical emptying. We ought to work on emptying ourselves of anything that is not of God; worry, fear, hate, division, and greed to name a few. It’s hard to bear witness to the Spirit if it’s being clouded by our witness to the world. Ultimately it starts with us being intentional. I’ll admit I struggle with this because I get into my routines and habits and enjoy the flow of being comfortable. Being intentional about emptying ourselves disrupts flow, but invites us into a deeper need of Christ rather than our calendars. 

I invite you to pray this with me, a portion taken from a book on prayer by Ted Loder:

“Gracious and Holy One, creator of all things and of emptiness, I come to you full of much that clutters and distracts, stifles and burdens me, and makes me a burden to others.
Empty me now of gnawing dissatisfactions, of anxious imaginings, of fretful preoccupations, of nagging prejudices, of old scores to settle, and of the arrogance of being right.

Hollow out in me a space in which I will find myself, find peace and a whole heart, a forgiving spirit and holiness, the springs of laughter, and the will to reach boldly for abundant life for myself and the whole human family.”