I ran across one of my favorite meditations this morning. In a book published by the Hazelden Foundation, today’s meditation says, in part, “Keep pouring out yourself to help others so that God can keep filling you up with His spirit.” I love that visual. And the thought behind it so completely captures Christianity, doesn’t it? We are giving creatures, designed to be at our best when we are giving everything we have to other people. It’s how Jesus lived, it’s how the saints lived; it’s how the best Christians live. The more we give, the more Christ gives to us. The more we hold for ourselves, the less room we have for Christ’s gifts.
Selfishness is one of my (many) human weaknesses. I like to help others, sure, but only after my own bucket is full. Full of whatever human comfort I happen to be seeking, whether it’s food, time, money, et al. “I’d like to do more at the food pantry, but it’s been a long day at work and now I just want to put my feet up for a while.” “I would make a bigger donation to the church, but my wife and I are shopping for a new car and we can’t pay for leather seats AND give more to the church…” and on and on and on. I like a good full bucket.
Emptying our bucket for others is counterintuitive. Nowhere on Earth does it say that you will get lots of money, time or food if you give away your money, time and food. Savvy people would call that foolishness. We are coached to save what is ours, to get as much as we can, and to take care of #1.
But Jesus is counterintuitive. Jesus doesn’t live according to those rules; in fact he specifically rejects them. In word and in deed, Jesus pours himself out for others, working when he is tired, speaking and teaching constantly, feeding others, but when asked to eat, telling his Apostles, “I have food of which you know nothing.” Jesus lives in the flow from God’s bucket to his to ours.
This is not an eternal penance. Living in that flow of giving is what God wants for us because it is where we are happiest. God’s children were built to be givers; we’re not satisfied being bucket-fillers. We often get misled and chase after stuff for our own bucket, but no matter how successful we are, toting around that bucket full of stuff just gets wearying.
Give it a try. Pour out some of your bucket into someone else’s. Whether it be a bit of time, money, or caring. Feels good, doesn’t it? Tomorrow, take a look into your bucket. I’m willing to bet someone sneaked into your bucket closet and filled you right back up again. And again. And again.