Links Daily Devotional

Emptying Yourself

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5, ESV)

While growing up in the winter months of Northern Idaho, I would exchange my golf clubs for basketball and downhill skiing. The blanket of snow covering our course forced me to take a break from golf and I learned the importance of resting my mind and my body from the game.

I continued this pattern of setting my clubs aside throughout my college and professional career by taking the month of December off from practicing and playing. However, the days were always busy with year-end tasks, planning, shopping, and visiting friends and family.

The four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas morning is considered to be a season of anticipation for the coming of Christ, our Messiah. It too becomes a busy time. For many years in my faith journey, I rarely considered the invitation to slow down to prepare my heart and wait with anticipation during these days. I had things to accomplish and places to go.

Waiting and anticipating opens our hearts to consider who we are in the face of God’s love. This can feel unnerving. Staying busy and distracted with shopping, parties, stress, traveling, work, and planning allows us to hover over the holiday without engaging the mystery of Jesus, who “in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).

This past Sunday, the second week of Advent, the sermon focused on the idea kenosis, the Greek word meaning “to pour out” or “to empty.” Spiritual kenosis is reflective of self-emptying…self-emptying our own will to make more space to receive God’s will for our lives. The apostle Paul used this word to describe what Jesus did as he took on human form. He emptied himself to become more receptive to God’s will for his life. And Paul prefaced this by saying we are to have the same mindset as Jesus.

We all long for transformation, but it is not something we can manufacture on our own. God’s process of transforming unfolds when we choose a posture of self-emptying. Every day we must pour out our selfish ambitions, pride, and fears in order to create space for more of God’s character to infuse our souls, making us men and women who offer grace and compassion, kindness and love, forgiveness and mercy. God is not merely doing a work for us; he is doing a work in us.

The next few weeks have the potential to be fast and furious, but I want it to be different. With three weeks of travel ahead of me, it will be easy to lose sight of keeping my focus on waiting in anticipation to celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas morning.

I am pondering my need for more spiritual kenosis, more self-emptying, to make more room for Jesus to move in and through me. Will you join me in being watchful for the distractions and stress that will sabotage our waiting and anticipation this Advent season and choose to self-empty and find rest instead?

Tracy Hanson
December 10, 2015
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