"When You're Stumbling into the New Year Empty and Drained"
“Three days later, they all went to celebrate a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee … While they were celebrating, the wine ran out … [And Jesus said] ‘Fill each water pot with water until it’s ready to spill over the top.’”
John 2:1a, 3a, 7b (VOICE)
We were sitting in the dimly lit corner of our favorite Italian bistro when my husband asked the question that made my heart lurch: “What are you looking forward to in the new year?”
The last hours of the last day of December stretched before us like a gift wrapped in moonbeams and grace, and I was grateful for time to connect as we bid another year goodbye.
I cast him an appreciative smile, knowing that my quiet guy would have been content to merely eat his steak and savor our momentary break from baby babble and toddler tantrums.
Normally, his inquiry would have aroused my love for conversation and undaunted dreaming. But as I sliced into my baked potato on that particular New Year’s Eve, I realized I was strangely devoid of words.
I felt more hollow than hopeful, more discouraged than dreamy.
I wanted to answer with expectancy and exuberance, to rehearse to my willing listener a list of grandiose goals and polished plans. But I was road-weary from a long and exhausting year. Unexpected disappointments had left me discouraged, and I felt depleted by the demands of the daily grind.
My husband buttered his roll and waited in comfortable silence. And I felt a cavernous ache rise from the tip of my toes to the corners of my muddled mind. I held his green-eyed gaze and wondered if my heart would split wide open if I put words to my unseen struggle.
I willed my tears not to drizzle, and I blinked long and slow in an attempt to hide the drops of watery despair.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” my husband asked, reaching across the table to lace his fingers through mine.
“I just feel so empty inside …” I cried, as I tipped my water glass to my lips and sipped the last drop. “I don’t how God can use me in the new year when I feel so depleted by the old one.”
Maybe you’ve been there before-- too haggard to hope, too wary to wish, too exhausted to anticipate.
Maybe you’re there right now, toes tired from the journey, your heart feeling bankrupt by the barrage of life.
But if you’ve limped into the new year with muted hope and a poured-out soul, I’ve got good news for you. Our emptiness doesn’t disqualify us from Christ’s extravagance. Our weariness doesn’t exempt us from His wonder.
In fact, today’s key verses suggest that our emptiness might actually give us reason for expectancy in the new year.
After all, we have a Savior who delights in filling empty vessels.
If we read the entire account of Christ’s first miracle in John 2:1-12, we learn that Christ didn’t view those barren wine jugs as a reason for condemnation; He simply viewed them as a wordless invitation. A subtle summons to reveal His glory in a fresh new way.
Think about it, friends: if our lavish Savior can use poured-out pots to display His splendor, surely He can use poured-out people to do the same. We need only to admit our void and ask for His help.
A waiter lingered beside our table with a pitcher and reached for the glass near my plate.
“An empty one!” the waiter exclaimed as he held the fluted glass up to the light. “I can fix that!” he said with a silly smirk. Then he tipped the pitcher with a gallant swoop and filled my glass to the brim.
My husband raised his eyebrows as the young man waltzed away. “Maybe being empty isn’t so bad after all …” he said with a wink.
I took a long sip of water and let it wash away the lump of tears that had been sitting in my throat.
Then, I cast my husband a grateful grin and let an unexpected giggle spill from my lips.
After all, it suddenly seemed like I was in the perfect position to embrace a new year brimming with possibility.
Dear Jesus, help me trade my emptiness for expectancy. I invite You to do a fresh work in me this new year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 15:13, “I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NCV)