Monday, September 14, 2009

half full or half empty?

This is from a talk I gave at our church gathering last night.

I have been feeling somewhat empty in the last month or two. I can't explain exactly why that is, but it has thrust me into a quest to pursue more wholeness in my life and hard as it may be at times, it is a very worthwhile journey.

Yesterday as I was thinking about the difference between emptiness and fullness, I decided to explore the classic "half empty or half full" question. I held up a glass and asked, "What is this?" The answer came back: "An empty glass." I filled a glass halfway with water and set it on the table. I asked, "Is this half full?" "Yes," was the response. Then I asked, "Is it half empty?" The response was again positive.

Then I submerged an empty glass into a large bowl of water and we all watched the liquid poured into it. I raised it up. "Is this glass full?" I queried. "Yes," people called out. Then I took another empty glass, turned it upside down, and pushed it into the water. Though surrounded by liquid on every side, the glass remained empty.

"What happened?" I asked. "Why didn't the water go in?"

People answered, "Because the glass is full of air."

"So what has to happen in order for the water to come in?" I questioned.

"The air has to leave," was the response.

I tilted the glass to the side and we watched as the air bubbled out and the water gushed in. Once again a lifted up a glass half full of water and asked, "What is this?" One person called out, "It is full. Half full of water and half full of air." And that is exactly right.

Sometimes we see our lives as full in certain things and empty in other areas, but our life is always full, full of something. The real question is: what are we full of? I have a lot of good stuff in my life: passion, hunger for truth, energy, love, humility, curiosity, etc. I also have some other, not so good, stuff taking up valuable space in my life: loneliness, fear, and self-centredness to name a few. The question is, how do I make the exchange? How do I get those annoying air pockets out so that the really good stuff can get in?

Simply immersing myself in the correct atmosphere and being surrounded by all things good and lovely doesn't mean that I automatically take in these qualities. I somehow have to position myself so that the things I don't want in my life are allowed to exit and the things I do want are allowed to enter. And I would venture to say that the position I am in now, the way I deal with life now, probably is not adequate to make such an exchange, or it would already be happening.

On a slightly different note, here is a little something about the phrase "fullness of time" as used in the Bible:
It is referring to the right, appropriate, or fitting time for an event to occur, often in the light of specific predictive prophecy. Thus time itself does not really get full but what the terminology means is that when God has said the time is right, something will happen, especially if He has said it will. The time preceding the event is thus like a glass of water slowly filling up as the time rolls on until when the glass is full it has reached the time for the designated event to occur. - from http://www.wikianswers.com/

We mostly see time in a very narrow way. We understand things in terms of 'on time', 'late,' 'early,', or 'not having enough time.' But is a glass half-filled with water 'on time?' Is it late or early? It is none of these things. It is being filled, one drop at a time, or perhaps in a sudden gush, and when it reaches that tipping point, that point of fullness, then the time is right and fitting for something to change. The question is not "when will the event occur?" but "how full is the glass?"

What are we full of? How do we make the exchange between useless air pockets and life-giving water in our lives? And how do we keep keep marching towards the "fullness of time" regarding all those wonderful things that God has said he wants to make a reality in us?
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:14-19, The Message

This is the modern Selfridges store in Birmingham, England (full of expensive articles) against a blue sky (full of the glory of God).

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