Good Friday: When your hands are full but your heart is empty

Have you ever spent all your time pouring into other people without being poured into yourself? It has been days, weeks, or months since you were able to do something purely for your enjoyment because life keeps interrupting.  You have this foreboding sense of doom because you can’t imagine it getting any worse, and yet there is no end to the demands. You’re swimming in the ice cold ocean without a life jacket and the single beacon of light keeps getting further away.

I imagine that’s how Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane.  His hands held the fate of the entire world’s population. His choice meant life or death for the rest of us. The future of the world rested on his shoulders and it was a heavy weight to carry.  I can imagine him pleading with his Father, begging the Creator to find another way. Then he accepts the responsibility, knowing he will endure more pain and heartache than any other human being has ever endured.

Meanwhile, his best friends, the men to whom he gave his entire heart, could not be bothered to stay awake. This is the part where I would have screamed, “What about me? I’m about to die for you! Drink some [expletive] coffee and wake the [heck] up!”  

But Jesus didn’t do that.  Even with full hands and an empty heart, he focuses on the well being of the disciples.  In Mark 14:28, he tells them, “Watch and pray that YOU may not enter into temptation.”

Because of the friendships he had formed, it is believable that Jesus would be able to continue pouring into the disciples until he was taken from them.  These were the men chosen to continue his work after his death so he wanted them to understand the importance of this situation. If I was about to die, I would want to pour as much love and wisdom into my family as possible.

But Jesus’s selflessness didn’t stop there.  Minute after minute, he focused on other people until he died. I can imagine him stumbling through the crowds as he was beaten, spit on, and cursed.  I can imagine the inner turmoil he must have felt. How easy it could have been to say, “What about me?”

Instead, he saw the desperation of each person who berated and abused him.  He thought, “What about her? And him? And them?” He saw that they needed his sacrifice and he put his needs aside long enough to serve them well.

Tonight, as my daughter dragged the kitchen stool across the hardwood floor for the fiftieth time today, I snapped.  I stuffed the stool in the closet. “I told you to stop dragging that stool!”

And for the hundredth time today, the waterworks opened up.  Crocodile tears poured down her cheeks. “I help Mommy.”

“I need you to go sit down in your chair.  I don’t need you to help right now.” I sounded calm but inside I was fuming.  It had been a stressful week, and my napless toddler was about to be the recipient of my frustration.

The wails got worse. Her heart was broken. “I help Mommy.”

That’s when a little voice started talking to me.  And I realized that she needed to help me a lot more than I needed her to leave me alone.  She needed my grace. So we found a smaller stool and she happily stirred vegetables while I served dinner.

Now she’s asleep, and I am getting my time.  My day is finished. My husband and I can spend time together.  I can read or write or do whatever I want. God and I can have a conversation uninterrupted by insanity. And- this is important– I don’t have any regrets about today.  I know I served my family well. I know I couldn’t have done better.

I realize that the struggles of dealing with a toddler may sound like a petty problem.  But the concept applies to anything. The old lady cut in front of you in line at the grocery store.  Breathe. Maybe the cashier needed to see someone respond with grace.

A friend spreads a rumor about you at school.  Be kind. Know your worth. Respond with truth, but maintain your dignity and show grace.

When your hands seem too full with the demands of your teachers, your bosses, your family, your friends, or your dog, ask God for the strength not to drop anything.  Ask Him to get you to the finish line. Tell Satan- the real source of your anxiety and stress- to go back to his fiery home! Then, turn around, look at the people in front of you, and serve them even harder.  Serve them so well that the heavenly source of your strength is obvious.

It was only by focusing on the needs of everyone else that Jesus overcame the crucifixion.  When he poured out every last drop from his body, he gave us the perfect example of forgiveness and love.  Then he got to come back stronger and more holy than ever.

Your time is coming.  Your break is coming. The end is near.  God is already focused on fulfilling your needs. Your heart will be filled and the burdens will be lifted from your hands.  

But if you’re focused on yourself, you’re never going to make it to the resurrection.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

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