Filling the Dark, Empty Spaces


We just celebrated Christ’s resurrection this past Sunday. Easter is one of my favorite holidays, because the festivities and remembrances of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection seem to re-center my focus on hope. Christmas has a way of making me feel expectant and Easter has a way of making me feel simultaneously sure-footed and full of life. Both historical miracles leave me in awe.

I haven’t written much at length about my own season of expectancy and hope yet here. I guess I’ve been scared because of the loss I’ve experienced and also, I’ve just been drinking it all in. But for the past 8 months, I’ve had a miracle growing inside of me: Patrick Tobias. His name means, “Noble” and “God is good.” We want to teach him about the immense value of his name because his story is so very remarkable and important in the scheme of God’s story. He continues to grow and we continue to wait with hope and expectancy.

At Christmas, my husband, mother-in-law, and I took turns reading aloud from Ann Voskamp’s family advent book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. It was my turn to read aloud one night and these are the words that came from the pages to my lips and straight back to my heart:

And then the Son-King let the very children He’d made and loved slap Him and whip Him and nail His always-loving hands to a cross. And all evil and badness across the universe laughed as if they’d won. Then they wrapped the Son-King’s limp, dead body in rags and forgot Him in a grave. (Who ever expected the tears of all this?) But then, when no one was expecting anything from another world at all, the Son-King jolted right up in the grave—alive!—and the light forever shattered the darkness…

When we love in little ways, the big things unexpectedly begin to happen (they won’t be expecting that!). In little places, through unexpected people, the story is unfolding and unwrapping all around you and in you, the light overtaking the dark. And it’s like you can see the new Kingdom bursting in right now…

 As I read, I felt evidence of the light in what was once a very dark space—my womb— while my Patrick swam around like a little fishy. And I wept. His life was so unexpected. We expected for my womb to remain a tomb. But the Lord, who conquered the grave had a new story for the bodily tomb that once held our first son, Manuel. The new story is resurrection, newness of life.

I can taste it all, this year.

I can taste Sarah’s laughter.

I can swallow Hannah’s prayers fulfilled with a long hoped for yes.

I can drink the Shunammite woman’s surprise and offense when she thought Elisha was playing a cruel joke with his pronouncement of what she’d secretly wished for.

I can sense the sweetness on my taste buds with Rachel’s delight when God allowed her to live her own story of family after witnessing her sister’s seemingly easy family addition story for so long.

I can imbibe the shock and joy that Elizabeth and Zechariah drank as God quieted their hearts with the miracle of life that would prepare the way for Jesus. I can feel the leaps in my own womb as I come nearer the presence of God.

And I can sink my teeth into what Mary heard from the angel Gabrielle, because her Immanuel is who has given meaning and purpose to both my Manuel and my Patrick, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

Her Immanuel is who has been with us through the death of one son and the new life of another.

He’s not just her Immanuel; He’s my Immanuel.

He can be your Immanuel.

He is with us.

My womb is all of those things. The breath of God has filled the new life that now dwells inside of my body as I cradle my child till birth.

But greater than the breath He has breathed into my son’s lungs and my own lungs, is the breath He has transferred to my once small, dark heart. He has expanded my heart in the most unexpected of ways, just like He expanded the world with His coming and transforming.

The kicks from my son, remind me of the unexpected, resurrected nail scarred feet of God’s Son.

My dark, empty spaces continue to be filled with light in the most unexpected of ways because of Jesus.

Yours can too.

What tombs are there in your life?

What small, dark spaces are crying for light?

Where have you seen unexpected resurrection in your world?

Might I encourage you today with the words of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who opened herself to be a vessel for the unexpected?

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38

When you take the lid off of the dark, empty spaces of your life, the Light of the World has all the room He needs to do the impossible.

Empty, death dredged places that were once sealed become spaces filled with light, breath and life when Christ overtakes them.

The emptiness and the darkness are not the final word.

The emptiness and the darkness are not the final word.

The fullness and The Light are The Word.



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