“LET ME BE FULL,”
Today’s Scripture Reading
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
To be full is to be fulfilled or satisfied. There will be times in our accomplishing of God's work that we will feel contented and pleased, like when our thirst for meaning and purpose is quenched. To pray, “Let me be full,” is like saying, “Let me feel happy and pleased with my contribution to your work, God.”
There are times when we feel like we were specifically designed for the work we are doing or that the work was assigned expressly with us in mind. In this regard, God's work of mission and ministry hardly feels like a job -- it actually brings us to life. We are exuberant and joyful when we feel full, and this feeling of being full compels us to find out more and similar types of ministry opportunities that will satisfy our longing to feel like we are making a difference.
The times that I feel full are when I have the chance to use my spiritual gifts to contribute to God's work. Most notably, I feel full when I have the privilege to teach small or large groups of people. A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a one-day church retreat. I took a late dash night Friday flight out of Kansas City so that I could arrive by early Saturday morning to drive from the airport to the church. The church was two hours from the airport. The day of the retreat was the same day as the Notre Dame football game -- the first game of the season. The church was less than 10 miles from Notre Dame's campus in South Bend, Indiana. You know where this is going! I was told there would be about 100 people there, but less than two dozen showed up. The pastor who invited me apologized profusely. Sure, I would have loved to have had 100 people there. However, at the end of the day, when I sat back down on the plane on the way home, I felt so filled up. Teaching, training, keynote talks, and other opportunities to speak all help me feel full, regardless of how many people are in the room.
I also feel full when I coach others and see improvements made. For the last ten years, I have coached kids and teenagers in baseball. I feel full when I have the chance to lead a project from start to finish -- the harder it is, the more I feel full. I feel full when a person I share my faith with joins me at church and takes a step closer to following Jesus. I feel full when I finish a manuscript and turn it in to the publisher. You get the picture, I am sure. We feel full when we live into the jobs and responsibilities we do well.
We are full when purpose and meaning align. A sense of purpose helps us to feel the work we were made to do is useful and beneficial. Meaning, embedded within purpose, provides us with a sense of knowing the value of or worth we bring to the purpose. In other words of the great writer Frederick Buechner, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.” This is where purpose and meaning converge. If purpose is where we find “gladness” and meaning is where the world's “hunger” is met, then we are where we are meant to be. Where we are meant to be leaves us with a feeling of satisfaction and completeness, or the feeling of being “full.”
Outside influences can make us feel full to. For example, the friendships we have, the goals we accomplish, the growth we experience, the community we know and love, and the stories of transformation we tell can all contribute to being satisfied or full.
“Let me be full,” as we will see in the next reading, is only one fragment of this part of the prayer. Just as “to be employed” has a counterpart -- “to be laid as side” -- “full” also has its opposite, “empty.” However, today we are exploring what it means to be full. Let's finish our reflection today with the encouragement that when we are full, let's be sure to be grateful to God and say, “thank you.” let us never take our fullness for granted. We should also be intentional about reminding ourselves to thank others, express appreciation through sharing credit with others, and noting achievements -- both big and small. Paying attention to these important aspects of gratitude will train us to overcome potential feelings of smugness and entitlement, and allow us to experience the abundance of joy.
How often do I feel happy or content?
What brings me the most joy in life? What fuels my desire to serve more?
God, give us moments in which we feel full from doing your work. Guide us to take time to reflect on what makes us feel full and then to celebrate the moments in which we experience it. Finally, train us to be grateful at all times, especially when we experience the happiness and satisfaction of participating in your mission. Amen.
Take 10 minutes today to fill in the illustration at the bottom of this page. Reflect on the question in the center.
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