“Silver and gold have I none, but such that I have, I give unto thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)
As a baby Christian, filled with shame and pain, the Bible became a lifeline (literally!) for me. I had much to regret and many sins to face. In my early days, I would have entire moments of sorrow that felt so large that I would simply be swallowed up with grief. My joy for life and hope for healing were so small that when I closed my eyes each night, I felt a little bit like what a hollow shell might feel like. Cold. Empty. Wanting to be filled. I would often cry myself to sleep singing “Amazing Grace.”
But it was in the words of scripture, particularly the words of Acts 3:6, that I found solace and comfort during my early Christian days.
Why? Well, because I had nothing to offer anyone. At least in terms of tangible helps. No money, no resources. I was in such a state of healing, in fact, that I didn’t even have in my possession the energy to care for others.
God was filling me, filling me, filling me…until the day when I realized that I had Something to offer! The nothing-ness of me in fact contained the most amazing Something-ness of God. It became my modus operandi: tell others about Jesus. I loved it! The dark, foreboding clouds of shame and grief gave away to the brilliancy of a life empowered by the Holy Spirit. Sure, I had nothing to tangibly give people, but I sure could tell them about Jesus Christ!
Occasionally, I look back and I think those were the glory days—the days when every word of scripture jumped out of the page and into my heart with abounding power and gladness. The hollow shell slowly filled to overflowing as my life in Christ became more and more hid in Him.
But the spiritual walk is an interesting thing, especially the more you seek to emerge yourself in it. A dear friend of mine said something deeply profound recently: “I have felt like I’ve always been either graded on my faith or paid for it.” When she said this, my brain did a double-take. I went to graduate school because I loved Jesus and wanted to learn more about Him. I began working in a Christian organization because I loved Jesus and wanted others to learn more about Him.
And yet here I am.
I say, “I am,” not “I was,” for a reason: too many people share their struggles in faith after they have ended. Too few people share their struggles in faith as they walk through them. The reality is that many Christ-followers have heads that are filled with Jesus but hearts that are growing cooler with each passing day. This is neither a new phenomenon, nor one that is hopeless. A few months ago the coolness of my heart overwhelmed me. I felt like my very life were caving in as I sat in church listening to a pastor talk about the danger of worshipping God in words but not in heart.
Missionary David Brainerd once said, “The whole world appears to me like a huge vacuum, a vast empty space, whence nothing desirable, or at least satisfactory, can possibly be derived; and I long daily to die more and more to it; even though I obtain not that comfort from spiritual things which I earnestly desire.” I desperately realized that my love for Jesus and my close walk with Him had dimmed even as I sought to reach a hurting world for Jesus.
Since that realization, my mind has gone back to Acts 3:6: “Silver and gold have I none, but such that I have, I give unto thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Although my state is not as bad as the hollow shell of me 12 years ago, there is nonetheless pain as I walk through it. There is an aching in my heart that longs to be hid in Christ again, to feel His warmth and His goodness.
As I sit in this place, my head tell me that I will again walk near to God. In fact, James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Yes, He will. He has done so in the past and will do so again (Deut. 4:29; Jer. 29:13; Matt. 7:7-8). And as I seek to rediscover the beauty of my God and my Friend, I realize that there is nothing wrong with serving from an empty heart as a Christ-follower, because the reality is as a Christ-follower your heart is never empty. Maybe I can’t give all of me, but I sure can give “such that I have.” And I have Jesus. Enough said.