I don't usually cry at Barney. I don't even watch Barney, most days. But today when John asked me to watch it with him, I did, just because I didn't have the energy or motivation to do anything else. So I saw the story of the emperor:
A Chinese emperor gathered a group of children (at least they were played by kids . . . and the emperor was some dinosaur) and told them that he was going to choose one of them to be the next emperor. He gave each of them a seed, which they were to plant and care for and bring back in one year to show the emperor what they grew.
Ling was a good gardener and excited to grow a wonderful plant. He took home the seed, planted it in a good pot, and gave it lots of water. But nothing grew. All year, he cared for the seed, but had only a pot of dirt to show for it.
When the year ended, Ling took his empty pot to the emperor. The other contestants had beautiful flowering plants. But the emperor announced that Ling would be the next emperor. To everyone's surprise, the emperor said, "I gave you each a rotten seed, but only Ling had the courage and honesty to bring me an empty pot."
At the moment, I too feel like an empty pot with a rotten seed. It is a struggle not to try to come up with some pretty flowers to hide my emptiness and rottenness. But I can go to my Emperor, the King of the Universe, Jesus Christ, with my emptiness. He has put his own life in this clay jar, a light that shines in the darkness of our hearts, "to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor. 4:6, 7). Who needs some flowers when we can one day reign with Jesus, because of his gracious gift?
I still feel empty . . . but my Father says, "Open wide your mouth, that I may fill it." (Ps. 81:10).