May It Not Be Empty

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Nearly four years ago I walked through the doors of Notre Dame, my eyes wide and my jaw slack in awe. To say this famous church is an incredible sight is too small a word.

I couldn’t believe the immensity of the arched ceilings and when I took time to contemplate just how many people had entered those doors over hundreds of years, it was too much for my mind to grasp. There was such reverence in that space, but for some reason it felt empty.

I remember feeling like something was missing, but I pushed it aside and continued to walk around with the mingling crowd.

My sister and I snapped a few pictures, too self-conscious to take a selfie inside, when we noticed a line forming. Lauren, ever curious, walked forward to see what it was, and she whispered to me, “I think it’s a relic of some kind.”

As we got closer, she was right. The sign said it was a thorn from the crown of thorns and a line of people were waiting to pray, to get close, some wanting to touch it, while others knelt beside it.

Now, I’m not here to say that it was or wasn’t a thorn from Christ’s crown, but I am here to tell you that Something moved in my heart as I saw the people pressing close, eager to get a look at this thorn. There was a sense of desperation in the air that was almost palpable. Lauren sensed it too.

“Aren’t you glad we don’t need that?”

Lauren’s statement was so simple and yet so true. We don’t NEED that.

I’m not beyond believing that the Lord is able to use an object for a miracle, but rather, there is a greater miracle at work that we too often take for granted. Those of us who believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior have a miracle within us known as the Holy Spirit. His power is in us as Christ proclaimed and we see the world differently because of our love for Him.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17

You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Such powerful words that confirm what I felt in Norte Dame. It was almost as if that Something told me, “This isn’t necessary.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a temple that is hollow and searching for things that don’t really matter. I want to experience the power of the Spirit, the pure fire that ignites my heart, as I stand firm on His Word.

And so, that is my prayer for us today. That we would look inward and search. Are we standing firm in His power, holding tight to the truth that is His Spirit? Are we remembering that we are vessels filled with His Spirit to reach others, or are we searching for the things in the world that distract us from Him?

There, standing in Notre Dame, I remember looking at Lauren and nodding in agreement with her words. We didn’t need relics, for we had the true power of the Holy Spirit in us. Such peace overflowed me in that moment

Isn’t it interesting that not too long after visiting Notre Dame, it was burned? Many mourned, for it is a structure that has withstood many events throughout history, but that is all it is. A structure. Unlike us, who are temples for the Spirit, Notre Dame is an empty, articulate, beautiful building. But it is just a building.

In many ways I can hear the angel at the tomb saying, ’Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’” (Matthew 28:4-7).

And so, I do not want to be a woman who is looking for Christ in the wrong places. But rather, I want to seek Him and find Him, searching in the inward spaces where His Spirit shapes and transforms me into the woman He created me to be. I pray that when the Lord searches my heart, He would see it as one surrendered to Him and His plans. I don’t want to be an empty vessel, but one filled to the brim and overflowing with hope and joy.

Unlike Norte Dame, when it comes to my heart, I pray, may it not be empty.