Often after eating a big meal, people will respond, “I’m full.” It means that their stomach has reached its capacity. Generally, human stomachs have a volume of about one liter, which is a little more than one quart. Since the stomach has the ability to expand, it can hold much more food. The human stomach can be distended up to four liters, which is more than one gallon. When the stomach reaches its limit, we confess, “I’m full.” Indeed, during the Christmas season this can easily occur as we tend to eat more than usual because of all the baking, the parties, and the get-togethers.
Christmas can also lead to a full heart. One might say that the birth of Jesus was God’s response to empty hearts. Ever since human sin entered the picture, our hearts ached because of our emptiness. We were created with a full heart. But sin punctured that heart of fullness and drained us empty. As St. Augustine would confess, “our hearts became restless.” We realized that something was missing. There was an inner emptiness. Regardless of how hard we tried, we could not seem to fill that emptiness. We tried to fill our hearts with wealth and possessions, pleasures, power, people, and a host of other substitutes. Yet, nothing seem to fill the emptiness of the heart.
At Christmas, God offered to us His son. A son who would be our Savior and once again fill our hearts. The old Christmas carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, says it this way, “So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.” At Christmas heaven came to earth to take up residence within us. The Bethlehem manger is none other than our individual hearts. Hence, empty hearts became full of the very life of God. The Apostle Peter in the book of Acts would confess this truth when he said, “You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” (Acts 2: 28)
We do not have to live with empty hearts. Nor do we have to settle for poor substitutes to fill that emptiness. Instead, in Jesus, our lives can be filled with God’s presence. Emmanuel can live within us, thus imparting His life into our own. In Galatians 2:20 the Apostle Paul would write, “I have been crucified with Christ. I don’t live any longer, but Christ lives in me. Now I live my life in my body by faith in the Son of God. He loved me and gave himself for me.” Christ can now live in us as we open our hearts to Him. Every heart is a potential manger. We simply have to respond in faith and trust in the one who can fill our hearts with life, hope, love, and joy. This is heaven’s blessing God desires to impart to every human heart. It is an incredible gift. We can live with full hearts thanks to God.