A fresh drink of mercy

Sometimes I just get full of myself. And believe me, that’s never a good thing. I don’t mean full of myself in a feel-good kind of way. Not the full of myself like I’ve just accomplished some great feat, or feel like I’m on top of the world.

No, I get full of my failures. My shortcomings. My downright refusals to just do the right thing. Yeah, that’s what I get full of. And it gets stagnant and starts to smell.

Why do I fill myself with things like that? Because I don’t stop to purposely empty myself.

I learned a beautiful lesson about emptying myself from a dear friend a couple of years ago. We were getting ready to leave for a Christian women’s conference, so excited about getting our worship on. A day or two before we left, she sent an email to all of us planning to go, and she shared how God had spoken to her about emptying herself before she left, so she could be filled. (That email eventually became this blog post.)

That message has never left my heart.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

I’m a jar designed to hold a great treasure, not to be filled with trash. But where there’s trash, there’s no room for treasure. I fill myself with the most ridiculous things, and it leaves no room for a Heavenly refill.

Even on some of my better days, when I may have given God my failures and shortcomings, I still find I’m full of myself. I’ll ask forgiveness and I’ll give God my bitterness. I’ll hand over my unforgivness. I’ll let go of my anger and my pride. But in the blink of an eye I’ve filled myself with other things. Things that might seem more noble, but take up precious space nonetheless.

I’ll fill myself with projects. I’ll fill to overflowing with commitments to other people because I can’t bear to tell them no. I’ll cram in a few extra duties that make me look like a really good person. And with every other thing I shove in my jar, I know it’s not something of God. It’s me again… full of myself.

That’s when I find myself overwhelmed. That’s when I have trouble squeezing in my prayer time. That’s when I discover it’s been a few days since I sat quietly alone with God, listening for His direction and waiting for His guidance. Because I’ve been too busy cramming more stuff in my jar.

That’s when I cry out for mercy. I need a fresh drink of mercy, God! I need that kind of mercy Jeremiah wrote about.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

olive jar overflowA study of the Hebrew words used in those verses gives the most glorious picture of an overflow of God’s mercies. It’s like taking the kind of clay jar the Hebrews would have used to store fresh water, and filling it to overflowing with sparkling, fresh water. But, it goes even beyond that. It’s a freshness like the jar was emptied completely of any remaining water and filled with a fresh, new water of a quality never experienced before. And the refilling is constant and ongoing. Always the fresh flowing through until it overflows.

But I can’t get that fresh drink of mercy. Not because God won’t give it to me. I can’t get it because there’s no room for it. I haven’t emptied myself of my filth. I haven’t emptied myself of myself.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV)

If the very Son of God saw fit to empty Himself to make redemption available for me, shouldn’t I see fit to empty myself for Him?

empty myself to be filled lamentations 3.22-23All those things I’ve been hanging on to for so long, refusing to give to God because it meant admitting my sinfulness. Refusing to give to God because it meant giving up my agenda for His. That’s why there’s no room for His mercy.

When mercy is all I have, it means I’ve emptied myself of everything meaningless.

Yeah, that’s where I want to be… where mercy is all I have.

14 thoughts on “A fresh drink of mercy

  1. Thanks for this precious reminder. How very easy it is for our vessels to become filled without our even realizing it. I needed this today as well as needed that dear memory brought back to mind. You have my heart kindled to get my fingers back to the keyboard to blog and share.

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  2. Get those fingers back on that keyboard, dear friend! As a new encouraging friend just told me the other day – God has placed you on a path to share His Word with others. Keep walking! You are a true inspiration!

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  3. Janet,
    So glad to be next to you in Kelly’s RaRa Linkup. Every day I need to “get over myself”…whether it’s pride in my self-sufficiency, or my dwelling on my shortcomings and failures. It’s all junk and I need to pour it out. Every day I need to invite the Lord to fill me up so that there would be always more of Him and less of me. Thank you for the encouragement you shared today.
    Blessings,
    Bev

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    1. Thanks for such kind words of encouragement Bev. This is my first link up. Still trying to learn the in’s and out’s of all things blog related. I’m looking forward to getting to know you and others in this wonderful community through your writings.

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  4. What a beautiful image of leaving room for God to move in our lives. I love your quote: ” I fill myself with the most ridiculous things, and it leaves no room for a Heavenly refill.” Oh how I need a Heavenly refill! Thanks for the encouragement. #livefree

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  5. visiting from She Lives Free…and so glad I have! I often think if God wants to fill me with His glory, then I must be emptying myself of me…but the great thing is, He HAS already washed me clean and filled me with the fullness of Himself. He is teaching me how to change my focus, and the more I concentrate on Him and His word the less me is visible!! Thanks for sharing such a refreshing word!

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