Don’t you love feeling full and useful and blessed? Any sign of growth and overflow (even in the smallest of details) makes me smile. Jars full of nuts. Smiling eyes. A growing business. Overflowing flowerbeds. Hopeful conversation. Learning and mentoring. These are evidence of someone who thinks big-picture thoughts.
Although a random act of kindness may find you unexpectedly, blessings usually show up where room has been made for them. Behind a place of increase, you almost always find someone who is prepared to receive it.
How do you prepare?
In a garden, you must be purposeful. I’ve learned this through both reward and failure. My seeds have a much better chance of thriving and rewarding me with a large harvest if I first prepare the soil. I must remove grass and weeds to give them room to grow. If I don’t intentionally cut out a space in the middle of our field for zucchini, carrots, and spinach, weeds and grass will fill right in (even without an invitation).
Your empty nest is no different. You must be purposeful to make room for the life you want or weeds will take over the space in no time. You must prepare yourself and your surroundings to receive the blessings you desire.
You may be thinking,
“Room is what I have too much of! It feels so empty since the kids left. I don’t need room. I need my life back.”
I get that it feels empty, but our lives are never empty. They’re always full of something. This truth is important to recognize and acknowledge. When your time (once filled with kids) was vacated, something else automatically filled in. Unless you purpose to fill it with something you want, whatever is convenient will slide into place.
Maybe you’ve found yourself watching too much TV. Or spending large chunks of time on social media. Maybe your mind has now been taken over by the weeds of loneliness and regret because you’ve believed life can’t be as good as it used to be.
Maybe your thoughts are consumed with the bumps and bruises of your adult kids’ growing pains. Maybe seed from their weed patches has drifted back home and you feel like you need to figure out how to save them. Don’t let the garden of your life fill up with thistles simply because you didn’t take time to pull them and plant what you want. You can give hope, joy, blessing, and purpose a place to take root if you choose.
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II Kings 4:1-7 tells the story of a widow who came to Elisha. Her two sons were on the brink of being sold into slavery because of their debt. She obviously found herself in a desperate place. But Elisha asked her an important question: “What do you have?”
Now, from the widow’s point of view, she didn’t have anything. “Nothing except a jar of oil,” she responded. Her perspective was one of emptiness. She only saw lack. But Elisha, being full of faith and a knowledge of God’s ways, knew that all she needed was to make room for a blessing to find her.
Go around and borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels — and not a few,” Elisha told her. “And when you come in, shut the door upon you and your sons. Then pour out [the oil you have] into all those vessels, setting aside each one when it is full.” (v. 3-4, AMPC)
This seems like a ridiculous suggestion. Why would you get more empty jars when all you see is emptiness? And yet the widow went and did as Elisha told her. She trusted this prophet to give her both hope and direction. As the story continues, she filled all the vessels from the little she had and ended up with enough to pay off her debt and provide for herself and her sons.
What about you?
If you’re feeling empty, if you’re overwhelmed by the circumstances around you, lift your eyes and get a bigger picture. Ask yourself the question Elisha asked the widow: What do you have?
- Maybe you have a pure love for people.
- Or a creative eye.
- Maybe you have curiosity.
- Or a great sense of humor.
- Or skills gained, but rarely used.
- Maybe you have open doors, inviting you to walk through.
- Maybe you have just a little bit of hope, but are willing to ask God for more.
Next, gather some empty vessels. They come in a million different shapes and sizes:
- Past dreams.
- Tools to create.
- An empty page.
- Books, music, art.
- New relationships.
- Unexplored interests.
- Travel to a new town or nation.
- Old relationships, expanded or restored.
Make two lists.
Write down what you have and the vessels you can pour it into. Take more than just a few minutes. Let these questions marinate for a while. Let them simmer in your thoughts. Take the list with you during the day and keep it by your bed for a few nights. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you anything you’re missing.
Expectation is a lightening rod for change. If you expect something, you’re looking for it. You’re setting yourself up to receive it. And then you embrace it with joy and purpose. Lift your eyes to see a bigger picture. Don’t let the feeling of emptiness lull you into living less than a full life. Prepare your garden, gather empty vessels — “and not a few” — and enjoy the blessings faith brings.
How are you preparing your empty nest for blessing? Share below to help encourage someone else!
Read more on the joy and value of Big-Picture Thinking in my last newsletter.