EMPTINESS AND FILLING


STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

EMPTINESS AND FILLING
=====================
As the deer pants for streams of water, so
my soul pants for you, my God.
Psalm 42:1

Ron Boyd-MacMillan writes in
his epic volume, Faith That Endures:

I remember interviewing a former
Muslim extremist in Egypt. He had converted
to Christ in his early twenties and led a Church for Muslim converts. This is
illegal in Egypt, and the
fellowship was betrayed to the police. Soon this
young man found himself in
prison. He was tortured. An electric cattle prod
was pushed into his mouth.
He was whipped and hung from the ceiling with his
hands tied behind his back. But all this paled into insignificance compared to
what other prisoners
called “the experience.” He was pushed into a stone box,
a cube about five
feet square. No light. No latrine. And he was left there for
a month, food
being passed through a grate every few days. Most prisoners went
mad as a
result of “the experience”—but not him.

He found Christ there, and the
words he used to describe his experience are
still the most brilliant
description of the process of how persecution
actually delivers more of
God:

“In great suffering you discover a different Jesus than you do in
normal life.
Normally we are able to hide from ourselves who we really are
and what we are
really like. The ego is well defended. But pain changes all
that. Pain and
suffering bring up to the surface all the weak points of your
personality. You
are too weak to mount the usual defences, and you just have
to gaze at what
you are really like. I was a wreck in that cell. I was
reduced to tears all
the time. Crying, weeping, sobbing, and wailing in the
never-changing utter
darkness.

“I came face-to-face with how awful I
really was. I saw all the horrible
things I had done, all the horrible things
I was. I kept seeing myself again
and again. But just as I was about to
collapse into complete despair and
self-loathing—and probably die—an
incredible realisation burst into the cell
like an exploding star. It was
this: Jesus loved me even right then, as I sat
in my own filth, weak,
helpless and broken, empty and sinful. Even in that
state, He loved me, and
Christ rushed in and filled me, and the filling was so
great because I was so
empty.”[1]

RESPONSE: Today I realize that God can use persecution to draw
people closer
to Himself.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord that You fill us when
we are truly empty. Help me not
to hide my real condition from myself and
before You.

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