Sometimes you’ve got nothing. Out of ideas, out of energy, all out of love. I reckon it’s where many songwriters begin. There’s something about being at the end of your rope that allows emotions to become authentic enough to spill onto the page with some sort of integrity.
I don’t write many songs. Poetry sometimes, rarely songs. My entirely forgettable anthology could probably be counted on the fingers of two hands. When paired with my guitar genius, it’s a collection of rare quality.
As my ‘I’ve got nothing’ soundbite slowly moved from one ear to the other earlier this morning, it triggered the opening lines of a song I penned circa the late eighties.
What shall I bring to the Saviour of the world, the author of love?
Is there anything of worth in me to You?
Probably not an anthem for congregational worship, but it’s where I was. The full-of-hope response to that hopeless cry is found in Jesus, but it’s the depleted place where I’d made camp.
The Message rends the first beatitude this way:
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule.
For a slice of time this morning, I found myself thumbing old journals for more lyrics to that song. What I found were many moments where desperation had leaked onto the page and then moved towards a consolation that’s only found in Jesus. Is it any wonder there are more laments than any other kind of Psalm? It’s often at the moment when there’s nothing else left but to shake our fist at God, sob our tears, or cry for help, that we pour out on paper.
Our emptiness allows God to flood us with his fullness. It’s not that we’re all sorted any other time, but when we’re at the end of our rope, the eyes of our heart are often acutely aware of reality. Of course, shutting them tight denies God the opportunity to be our peace, but the blessing in Jesus’ encouragement is within the context of our reality, not our escapism. He spurs us towards a sober assessment of who we are in order to bless us grace and mercy.
I didn’t find that journal but I think the chorus went something like this:
What shall I bring to the Saviour of the world?
What can I bring that will bless your heart?
What can I give to King of Kings?
I’ll come to you again
With my heart, my soul, my life, my all, my God.
You’ve never got nothing. And when you’re just about empty, you’re in a great place to be filled.