Because of God’s power and healing, He was working in my heart and in my life to show me the beauty of calm. I was finally able to experience the joy of working on my chores throughout the day without the constant internal freak-out. Yes, I was able to enjoy more of His blessed peace. It was rockin’. I noticed His healing in so many areas and I rejoiced as my heart responded to life in ways it never had.
And yet, in so many ways, I was thoroughly confused. For all my years, I’ve enjoyed serving others, being a part of people’s lives, and participating in ministries. As I searched, surrendered, and allowed God to teach me more about who He wanted me to become – I found myself continuing to fight against my old self.
I kept feeling like I needed to give and to serve and to be this for her and to be that for him. Along with all the exhaustion that had come from fighting this long, hard spiritual battle – trying to keep up with all that I believed I needed to do and to be for others was creeping in on me and threatening to suffocate me.
One night, I reached a breaking point. What was I supposed to do now? There are needs everywhere that I can’t meet. I’m tired. I’m weak. I’m confused. I’m frustrated. I’m…I’m…
In desperation I cried out to God, “My cup is empty, Lord. How am I supposed to serve others when I have nothing left to give? I’m worn out. I’m completely dry. I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know what service to you is supposed to look like. If you tipped me upside down, there would be not one little drop left to spill out. How am I supposed to give when I have nothing in me to give?”
I took a deep breath. I surrendered my weakness and confusion to God. And I waited.
Soon after that night, I shared this specific battle with a trusted friend. I shared with her the image of my empty cup – how I was dry, with nothing left to give. She spoke these simple truths to me:
“Laura, you have the Holy Spirit living in you. Because of that, you are never empty. Your cup overflows! If you feel empty, it’s because you’re giving from the wrong cup.”
The wrong cup. The empty cup. The cup of self. The cup that demanded praise from others. The cup that delighted in affirmation and appreciation for my works. The cup that was self-seeking and fruitless. I was trying to learn how to be the new me, all while hanging on to the painful parts of the old me. No wonder I felt so tired and confused.
My further studying led me to drink in (literally) John 7:37-39: “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this, He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive…”
I’ve read these verses over and over since that time. The words share two very important truths:
1. If anyone has a need, it is not up to me to fix, change, heal, or rescue. I am to point people to Jesus. He is the one who can quench their thirst.
2. We who believe in Jesus have a continual stream of living water flowing from within us. We are never empty – always full and overflowing. This life source is not from ourselves. It could never be from our selves. This life source is from the Father, filling us because of the Holy Spirit that is a part of us.
Accepting these truths gave me great new hope – hope that spilled out of me and had nothing to do with what I did, how good I was, how much I did, or what others thought. It was Jesus – living in me and working through me.
Did this mean that I could now sit back and not serve or love on people? Of course not. God calls us to serve!! But I must take the self out of my service. I must surrender and allow the Spirit to guide my actions, listening to His leading instead of my self.