TP is not the only thing on short supply in our house. We are running low on books, despite my hoarding of library books before the lock down. We are nearly out of sidewalk chalk and snacks. But those are not the lags that leave me worried.
At times throughout the day, patience is on short supply. While our creativity levels have been steady, I fear for the moment when what feels like an adventure to our boys starts to get old. Left to myself, my hope, willpower, and perspective have expiration dates.
While I don’t have much to offer on the former set of lists, I have good news for those who are running low on the latter set. I’ll let Annie Johnson Flint say it, since she captures it best in a poem she penned which became a hymn.
“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”
Lest you think this is mere poetry, you must know that Annie was twice orphaned and was crippled from arthritis that made her an invalid. She knew limitations and lack in every possible way; but those limitations led her to an all-sufficient, ever-present, always-abundant Savior.
Maybe you haven’t the end of your rice or frozen bread or canned goods yet; maybe you never will. Maybe you were among the early adapters who took multiple Costco runs for hand sanitizers and TP. Maybe your hospital won’t run out of protective masks.
But your heart will run out of drive and hope and energy and perspective if left to itself. While funny memes keep us laughing (keep them coming, they are like cinnamon sugar on milk toast days), a steady diet of happy thoughts are not enough to keep us hopeful in the midst of a sustained two front war against an invisible virus and a wave of mental health battles.
If you find your heart empty, don’t rush to fill it quickly with a short hope or a sudden surge in self-will. Please listen to your empty heart and know that it is meant to correspond to and live in conjunction with an ever-full God.
The emptiness in us corresponds to his fullness.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth….For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. John 1:14 & 16.
All people are invited to face an invisible virus with the companionship of the God who made himself visible.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross…Colossians 1:17-20.
If you are too quick to fill your emptiness (or your children’s emptiness or boredom) with new lists of fun indoor activities (again, keep them coming…just don’t rely on them or your ability to implement them to sustain you), you might miss out on being refilled by the living water from the fountain of life.
Only empty things can be filled. We have an upper hand in these COVID-19 days. As those who will know emptiness like we have not known before in a land that has smacked of abundance for most of our lives, we have a front row seat to the glory of God as seen through his sustaining grace.
As we get deeper into hard days, and closer to empty pantries and toilet paper rolls, may we know that, spiritually speaking, our Father’s full giving has only begun.