09052015_LysaTerKeurst_Fullness EDIT

I should have been happy. I knew it. I could have listed out so many things for which I was thankful.

So, what was this undercurrent of disappointment that ebbed and flowed just beneath the surface of my more honest moments? I got still and I got sad.

Then I would see something horrific on the news that other people are facing, and I felt so horribly guilty for even daring to give myself permission to entertain anything other than gratitude.

Which just heaped shame on top of my sadness. So I’d reach for a handful of something chocolate. And I’d wash it down with a Diet Coke and determine that maybe all this off-kilterness was just because I was running a little low on sugar and caffeine.

But the real answer was something I already knew but didn’t want to admit.

I was doing many things, pouring myself out for God, but not really spending time getting refilled by God.

Maybe you can relate?

We run at a breakneck pace to try and achieve what God simply wants us to slow down enough to receive.

He really does have it all worked out. The gaps are filled. The provision is ready. The needs are met. The questions are answered. The problems are solved.

And the parts He’s purposed for us? He’s got it all perfectly portioned out in assignments meant for us today. No more. No less.

All He asks is that we personally receive from Him before setting out to work for Him. In doing so we are fueled by His power and encouraged by His presence. This is the daily sacred exchange where ministry duty turns into pure delight.

It’s not hard to serve the One with whom we are crazy in love.

And He is most pleased when we are most focused on Him. Not only doing things for Him but rather being with Him no matter what we are doing.

He’s perfectly capable of doing everything that needs to be accomplished. He actually doesn’t need us.

But because He loves us, He allows us to join Him.

How it then must break His heart when we work like we don’t believe He’s capable. We say we trust Him but act like everything depends on us. We give all we have to the tasks at hand with only occasional leftovers of time to slightly acknowledge Him.

Imagine a little girl running with a cup in her hand sloshing out all it contains. She thinks what will refill her is just ahead. Just a little further. So she presses on with sheer determination and gritted teeth and an empty cup clutched tight.

She keeps running toward an agenda He never set and one that will never satisfy.

She sees Him and holds out her cup. But she catches only a few drops as she tried to fill her cup while running by Him. Empty can’t be tempered with mere drops.

The tragic truth is what will fill her . . . what will fill us, isn’t the accomplishment just ahead.

That shiny thing is actually a vacuum that sucks us in and sucks us dry — but never has the ability to refill.

I should know because that’s where I was. There’s no kind of empty quite like this empty — where your hands are full but inside you’re nothing but an exhausted shell.

Since my fast pace chase had gotten me into this mess, I knew it would take slow moments to get me out of it.

I needed to reconnect with the One who knows how to breathe life back into depleted and dead places. Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race. He’s into the slower rhythms of life like abiding, delighting, and dwelling — all words used to describe us being with Him.

As a matter of fact when Jesus appointed the disciples there were two parts to their calling:

“He appointed twelve that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” {Mark 3:14-15}

Yes, they were to go out to preach and drive out demons, but the first part of their calling was to “be with him.

Fullness comes to us when we remember to be with Him before going out to serve Him.

He wants our hearts to be in alignment with Him before our hands set about doing today’s assignment for Him.

So, He extends what we need and invites us each day to receive in prayer, worship, and truth from His Word. And He lovingly replenishes our cup while whispering: This isn’t a race to test the fastest pace. I just want you to persevere on the path I have marked out especially for you. Fix your eyes, not on a worldly prize, but on staying in love with Me.

That’s an agenda that’s always completely satisfying.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” {Ephesians 3:14-19}

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All God asks is that we personally receive from Him before setting out to work for Him. {Tweet this!}

  • Sam (in England)

    Thank you so much for those words today. I really needed to hear that.I feel that I can be really busy, and be serving God, yet not totally connecting with God, or even making time to connect with Him, or just to be with him. My children, here in England, have just started back at school, and I’m just a place where I need to get everything in balance again, and want to get my relationship with God back where it should be. Hm first. I got to the stage this Summer where I just felt empty, from not spending time with God, and then you start having yucky thoughts and feelings, don’t you ? Not good! So thank you for your encouraging words. I will be bringing back a bit of discipline in my life to choose to put God first each day, and abide in Him and trust Him. With love. X

  • Sharon

    Wonderful wisdom. Thank you for posting.

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    I love the word “abide” . Abiding, to me, means relationship. It means dwelling so closely with the Lord that there isn’t even a smidgen of room between us. Then, as I’m dwelling and abiding in him (versus running at break-neck speed ahead of Him), I wait patiently for what He wants to perform through me. I don’t want to do “for” God any more, I want to do “through” Him. Thank you for beautiful encouragement here to do just that…

    • Penny

      I like the way you put that, Not to do “for” Him but “through” Him.

      Have a blessed day,


      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Thanks, Penny…
        Blessings to you this day as well,
        Bev xx

  • carvinclark

    Thank you so much. I have been very sick nearly 5 years now. On bed rest very often. I have no excuse to be alone with God and just be in His presence. But the hand of depression eats away at me often. Self pity is a sin and if you feed on it too much depression will get into every bit of your mind, body and spirit, drowning out God.
    Thank you for reminding me that even in my state of poor health and isolation, once I am with Him, being still and just in His presence, understanding that His Spirit is interceding for me. Lately I have had many days where my prayers have very short. I am at that point in my illness that I am so weak and exhausted from caring this very heavy burden , I just play my worship music and worship in my solitude of pain and self pity, then soon I am up on Eagles wings soaring above it all. With the help of my doctors and medication I do get some help controlling the pain and nausea. Medicine created by man with the intelligence God gave them. I am one that never says ” If your faith was stronger or you read your Bible more you would be healed.” For one that is telling God what to do when you claim things in Jesus name. His Will is perfect and always on time, His time and not ours. When we start to understand that we need to stop asking for so much and yet trusting Him in all things .
    God Bless and thank you for sharing this.
    Sheila ( using my husbands goggle account btw)

    • Cheryl

      Lord, we trust you to bring Sheila back to health, and to be with her and in her every step of the way. Bring her your people she needs for encouragement andomens of joy. I ask these things for her in your name, Jesus, as you have invited us to do.

    • Penny


      Praying that all will be well.


    • Dinah

      Sheila, Your sharing post really encouraged me and I’m sure others as well. Thank you and praying for your spiritual and physical strength. Love Dinah

    • Beth Williams

      Prayers that with God you can be healed completely! May He bring complete peace, joy and happiness back into your life body mind and soul!!
      Please help Sheila with her medical issues. Shower her with blessings of healing in body mind and soul. Give her the encouragement she so desperately needs. Help her to have quiet moments listening to praise music and to see and feel your presence! Help drive out the demons of depression and self pity. Shower her with love, grace and mercy!

    • Knel dakis

      Prayed that our dear Almighty, loving, and powerful God will continue to strengthen your heart, increase your faith, and experience His goodness amidst the crisis you’re in. God bless you and pour unto you His richest favors, may you be healed, by His will and grace.

  • Susan Rinard

    Thank you as of much for this post! It is amazing sometimes how we fritter away our day and wonder what we have accomplished. Satan tries his best to keep us from spending time with the Lord, and when we do, he tries to tell us it wasn’t enough. I believe God honors our efforts and if it isn’t all in one time, but throughout the day, He is delighted with us! It’s our heart that matters most and that abiding begins when our eyes open first thing in the morning and continues throughout the day. Some days are like that and some aren’t!

  • Cindy Fortune Dullumm

    Must go now…His Word has called me!

  • http://www.calistabaker.com/ Calista

    These words haunt me: “There’s no kind of empty quite like this empty — where your hands are full but inside you’re nothing but an exhausted shell.” So, so true and I’ve been there. Not a place I’d like to return anytime soon, but know that I have to take steps everyday to prevent it. Although, maybe it’s better to say that I need to NOT take some steps everyday as I wait quietly in the presence of God, refueled and refilled by His love and purpose. :-)

  • Penny


    Thank-you for so beautifully putting this into words,

    Your post really touched on what I have recently been struggling with. I feel as though I’m being pushed back and told to relax. Not always jump in or question, why? But instead pay attention, obey Him and trust that He has it covered.


  • JeanneTakenaka

    Lysa, I loved this post. Years ago, I went on a missions trip to the Philippines. One friend was up early every morning spending time with Jesus. I always tried to get up early enough for doing that too, but it rarely happened. I was wearing out fast, insecurities were stepping in to feed the worries that came from not connecting with Jesus. This friend said to me: “Jesus wants your heart, not your hands.” Eleven years later, I still try to live with that in mind every day. He wants our hearts before our service. When my heart is focused on Him, I’m much more at peace than when I’m busy running past Him, gleaning a few drops and trying to fill myself with the acts of serving. Yeah, I’ll be thinking on your words this weekend. Thank you so much.

    PS—I’m reading The Best Yes now, and I’m gleaning so much! Thank you.

  • http://www.jenniferwaddleonline.com Jennifer Waddle

    Oh, how I needed to hear this. I have been running like a hamster on a wheel, faster and faster but getting nowhere. I stepped off of that wheel this morning. Thank you, Lysa.

  • Janine

    I just lost a client…he’s now in heaven…the past year of caregiving took up my life. I’ve recieved condolences from many friends but I still feel very depleted and empty….I give and give but feel life haspasses me by……everyone has someone more important to be with….and another holiday alone is just too much….I do reavh out but it’s always the same….I’m always an afterthought…I’m well aware of people who need me…and what’s important…I’m just very very weary

    • Penny


      I’m so sorry for your loss and emptiness. I wanted to share these words of encouragement I received from a Reverend before my Mother passed away. She didn’t like to be alone so when I asked his advice he said to me,”Remind her that she is never alone.”

      His love will help you to persevere.


    • Anna

      Janine, lifting you up in prayer right now to our Heavenly Father. Thank you, Lord, for the precious life of Janine. You see her comings and her goings, you knit her in her mother’s womb, keep track of all the tears, the many tears, bottling them, Your heart aches for her. Father God, please help her feel Your loving arms holding her right now.

      Know that the Lord God loves you and will never, ever forsake you. You are precious in His sight.

    • Beth Williams

      Oh sweet sister–so sorry for the loss!! Prayers for you to find peace and friends to sit with you! May God bring respite to your weary soul! God is ALWAYS with you!!
      Please help Janine with her loneliness. Bring a comforting friend to sit with her and be there for her! Give her comfort for her weary soul and help her see that she is never alone!!! Give her peace of mind, body and soul!!

    • Diana Fleenor

      I want to add to the prayers here for you with a Scripture that has been an encouragement to me in my own loneliness…

      Father in heaven, thank you for caring for our aching hearts and giving us hope through your Word. As I consider Janine’s need to be delighted in, I pray that you will do for Janine what is said of you in Psalm 68:6: “God sets the lonely in families…” I ask that you fill her up first with your presence then may you surround her with the family of God, the body of Christ, in a new way. May as you work through our prayers of faith, Janine’s heart be encouraged and satisfied by your loving touch. Thank you Lord and Savior Jesus! Amen.

  • Kristi

    Thank you for this reminder. I never noticed that the disciples were to “be with Him” before they headed out – I love that! Beautifully written. Wonderfully encouraging, as always.

  • http://ordinaryepiphanies.wordpress.com/ Greer Oharah

    Wow, this is exactly what I’ve been learning and processing through this week. Thank you so much for your encouraging perspective!

  • http://pttyann-pttyann.blogspot.com Pttyann

    What a word! Awesome word! Thank God for giving you this needed word! Father help us to get this word deep down in our Spirit in Jesus name Amen.

  • Serrena Westerfield

    Thank you, Lysa for this wonderful reminder. I needed to hear this as I have had a week that is one of those life defining moments where you ask where is God? Why didn’t He answer my prayers? Does He hear me? My heart is broken for my child and future grandchild as I do not have control over the situation and I want to fix it. You are reminding me that He does not need me to fix it, as He has it all under His control. May our Father continue to bless you, Lysa.

  • Carrie Davis

    This is so what I need…

  • http://www.refineandrestore.com Rachel

    So good and such a great reminder to seek God first before we serve others so that we have more left to pour out instead of becoming an empty shell. I have at moments been running on my own steam (or lack thereof) and needed this reminder that even amidst my daunting to-do’s list I need to take a moment to be still before setting out on my agenda for the day.

  • LizzyinNZ

    Lysa, I’ve just finished watching your weekly wrap-up video on #first5 and relished it as always. Here in New Zealand I see it on a Sunday, and as I attend mass on Sat evening, your video is the perfect way to start the Sabbath. Thank you! I’m not quite sure how (well, yes I am… God’s will)… but thru various links, I landed on this webpage, which I’d never seen before. I have now bookmarked it to read regularly. Your words today were right on the button. EXACTLY as I had been feeling throughout yesterday and I couldn’t put my finger on why I was feeling that way. A little down & out. I’m feeling uplifted this morning. Many thanks for all your amazing words which inspire and encourage… the Lord is truly doing His work thru you (and a big THANK YOU to your team at #first5 – the best Christian app I’ve found and a real Godsend to me each day).

  • Beth Williams

    Thank for an honest post! To often we as women feel we must “do it all” and “be all” to everyone without any thought of ourselves. Then we wonder why we are running on empty! Thank you for the reminder that we need to take time for ourselves and “be with/abide with” God first and foremost then we will have a full tank to go and serve Him. I recently watched the movie War Room about prayer. It has inspired me to pray more and with intention! After doing that I feel full and ready for my day!!
    Blessings :)

  • Diana Fleenor

    Lysa, like others here I am encouraged by the words you have poured out to us…words of great need for us as this culture we live in is constantly telling us and/or enticing us to do and do and do. Yesterday and today before I read your blog, I was meditating on the verse in Psalm 37 which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Then in the sermon we heard today, the pastor was talking about how we need to see how our Father in heaven delights in us because for many of us our earthly fathers didn’t know how to do this. So after the sermon, I came to read this post and know deep in my heart our Father in heaven is pouring his delight in and through me more thoroughly than even before. I do delight in Him, and believe that He delights in me, but may that delight grow more and more every day. I pray that this reciprocal delight deepens in you and each of those posting today in such a way that the love of Christ be exalted to every one in our paths! Thanks so much for sharing your heart and thoughts with us! What an encouragement!!

  • Stories of Our Boys

    This is excellent, and it EXACTLY IS in line with what I’ve been going through. God is teaching me that I HAVE to be filled first, every single day, before I can pour out.

  • Amy

    I love the thoughts. But, I have to say that with six children in the house (and all of them sinners, would you believe?!), for underachievers such as myself, it is well nigh impossible just to get through the feeding and the clothing each day. I’m not involved in any other ministry really that takes my time. So, where do I find the time and energy to get refilled? I know it’s “just a season,” but that really doesn’t fix the fact that my children are growing up with a tired, frustrated, irritable mom who’s wondering what it really means to have any meaningful relationships at all, including one with God. I set my alarm early this morning and even got out of bed; but, I fell asleep on the couch. So much for that. Sorry. I guess I just needed to vent. Articles like this make me sad. Not the author’s fault. I’m sadly just not one of those for whom this stuff works. I don’t know how to make myself “madly in love” with Jesus when I’m just not madly in love with anyone or anything at the moment. Thanks for letting me vent.

  • Diane Hogan

    Try praying before you get out of bed. Our Lord wants so much to have a relationship with you and it is not so much the amount of time as just that you are communicating. Just start by praising Him and asking for his presence in all you do in each day.
    Love and hugs, Diane

  • Tricia

    The Lord confirmed to me today – separate from this article, that: I made you alive in Jesus simply because I love you…reference…Ephesians 2:4-5

    • Diana Fleenor

      Beautiful thought, Tricia…”I made you alive in Jesus simply because I love you”! He has been speaking something similar in my own heart…praise the Lord for His love endures forever!!

  • http://martysmoosetracks.blogspot.com/ Marty

    Great post. The illustration of the little girl running and sloshing out everything in her cup…”running toward an agenda He never set and one that will never satisfy.” Such great insight. A great caution and a great reminder. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  • Eunice

    I have just discovered your blog. And feel quite emotional. At last someone telling me like it is, and not spouting words of faith to cover up reality. Thank you.

  • Tonya Lockamy

    Thank you for this visual! I could literally see myself as a little girl running with this sloshing cup and can totally relate to this now.