Empty, Like a Shell
If thou could’st empty all thyself of self, Like to a shell dishabited, Then might
He find thee on the ocean shelf, And say, “This is not dead”, And fill thee with Himself instead. But thou ... hast such shrewd activity, That when He comes, He says, “...It is so small and full, there is no room for me.”
—Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682)
SUZANNE JUBENVILLE | We are constantly encouraged to be filled: with the Holy Spirit, with the Word of God, with charity and good works and pure thoughts, love, righteous- ness, and joy. Be filled!
But how?
The prophet Haggai tell us, “You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6, NRSV). Our “shrewd activity” gets us nowhere.
Consider the life of Christ: Jesus didn’t run from emptiness; he embraced it. He emptied himself in order to become human, and while he was among us, he chose fulfillment in a life of poverty. What’s more, he sought empty places—the desert, a garden at night—in which to struggle with doubt and listen for God’s voice.
To be filled, all we really have to do is: “Open wide your mouth,” says, “and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10b, NRSV).
PRAYER O God, nothing I do has any meaning or substance without you. I come before you, still and empty, like a shell, that I may be filled. Amen.

About the Writer:
SUZANNE JUBENVILLE is a choral director, liturgist, and one-time musicologist.

Source: “Running from Empty” | 2023 Lent Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.