Have you ever felt like your life was completely full, yet your soul was completely empty? Are you a member of that ever-growing tribe of the full-yet-empty people in our culture?
I spent too many of my early young adult days as a member of that tribe.

My family was full with a wonderful wife and two amazing toddler boys, but empty of real relationship.

My career was full of work that I loved, but empty of God-given peace and effectiveness.

My soul was full of ambition, but empty of worship.

My mind was full of worry, but empty of truth.

My body was 27 years young, but stress sent me to the doctor thinking I was having a heart attack.

In 2007 I had a rock bottom moment: “Hi, I’m Ben and I’m a workaholic.”

Life full. Soul empty.

But there is good news. After surviving a couple such seasons, I’ve learned Jesus is a loving Lord who has the desire and strength to flip our souls from full-yet-empty to alive-and-fruitful! If you want that, I invite you to take a deep breath, take a sip of your fifth cup of coffee (been there) and give me five minutes to share four things I learned that Jesus has used (repeatedly) to flip my soul.

#1 Create some space in your day for listening to Jesus.

At my workaholic rock bottom, I was fed up with trying (and failing) to fix my full-yet-empty soul. I asked, “How can I give this problem to Jesus?” but no one knew. I had no choice but to ask Jesus how to do it. So, I joined a Bible study.

Every morning began with a cup of coffee and a quiet house — just me and Jesus. And in the Word, Jesus promised me love, help and a new kind of life. He listened to me, challenged me to trust him and invited me to rest in his provision.

If today finds you in the full-yet-empty tribe, I invite you to create space in your daily schedule to meet with Jesus. Start by reading your favorite book of the Bible while enjoying your favorite morning drink. I can’t tell you how Jesus does it, but in these quiet moments he takes our burdens and fills our souls.

#2 Prayer as preaching.

Let me share with you my workaholic prayer formula: “God, HELP!!! (Yes, it sounds like screaming in my head.) I need _______ (insert need of the moment). Amen.” Repeat often.

As part of Jesus’ life restoration, I discovered how to use prayer as preaching to my soul instead of just reaction to my “crisis.” Prayer became the way to fill my mind with truth about God throughout the day. It shifted my focus from my weaknesses to his strength, and it de-escalated my daily “crises.”

Some prayer-as-preaching life hacks for you:  praise God for who he is, pray a verse of Scripture that reminds you of his promises and tell him what you love about him. Then, of course, get to the “HELP!!!” part.

#3 Make time for lifegiving people.

As a workaholic, I starved myself of relationships; they got in the way of the real work. But Jesus opened me up to the truth that we need lifegiving people!

My daily habit changed from constant work to spending my lunch hour going for a run with colleagues, spending time with family in the evening, discussing Jesus with my small group on Monday nights  and enjoying sporadic weekend warrior adventures with my friends. And Jesus used these relationships to bring life to my soul.

Who are the people who fill you up, tell you the truth in love and encourage you? What is a routine that puts you in regular contact with your lifegiving people?

#4 Rest well.

When my soul was empty, I thought rest was a luxury. News flash — it’s a necessity!

My full-yet-empty habits kept me connected to the office and disconnected from life. Even Sunday was just another workday interrupted by a church service.

I learned God knew what he was doing when he gave us the Sabbath as a pattern for rest. When our family Sunday became a restful routine of sleeping in, going to the late church service, going out for lunch and then spending the day at the park or on a hike, Jesus gave me an extra soul fill-up each week.

What activities bring you the most joy in life? Those are probably the activities that will help you rest well and make for a soul-filling Sabbath.

Full-yet-empty in 2020.

In April 2020, I began having that 2007 full-yet-empty feeling again. The demands of being thrust into homeschooling, revamping our ministry to college students during the stay-at-home order, and isolation from lifegiving people started draining me.

I discovered that the same principles for an alive-and-fruitful life from 2007 still applied, but my old routines for connecting to Jesus needed changing to adapt to this new season of life.

Are you feeling full-yet-empty? Has this year of the pandemic uprooted your routines for connecting with Jesus and lifegiving people? I’m praying Jesus helps you discover new life-giving rhythms on a path to making you alive-and-fruitful.

If you’re looking for resources to go deeper in life renovation with Jesus, here are two great ones:

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer, and
The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, by Justin Whitmel Earley. 

Ben has been attending Faith since 2014. Three years ago, he transitioned from a career in electrical engineering to full-time ministry as Faith’s College Ministry Director. Ben is passionate about teaching the Bible, developing young leaders and discipling college-aged young adults.

Outside of ministry, Ben loves spending time with his wife, Sally, and their 3 boys.  He enjoys all outdoor activities including running, camping, skiing and hiking.

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