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Empty Buckets


For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 107:9

When You give it to them, they gather it up; when You open Your hand,

they are satisfied with good things.

Psalm 104:28

In the middle of writing this blog, the text came across my screen. My neighbor Sharon texted me saying the farmer vehicle would be on the driveway in a few minutes. She loves the garden, but it is obvious her greatest joy is having more than enough to share with others. She not only works the garden to feed herself and her family and friends, but also the hungry of our community. It is a beautiful picture of living from fullness and abundance that the Lord gives.

I accept the invitation, stepping across the driveway with an empty bucket ready to be filled. It just occurred to me that even the bucket is hers. I have nothing to bring to the driveway but emptiness, combined with a desire to receive everything she has to give. She invites me and another neighbor to take all that we want.

We take a small portion and then she proceeds to pile on more and more. I trek back home with a bucket brimming over. What I do with the fruit and veggies received is totally up to me. It is now mine to consume today, freeze or can for the future, let it ruin or give it away.

Daily I have an invitation to receive from Him. I simply bring my empty self, desiring to be filled. I’m the Samaritan woman found in John 4 going to the well with her empty bucket to be filled with water. What she didn’t know that day was that she would be filled with more than liquid water. Into her emptiness came Living Water, and her life was forever transformed the same as everyone who receives Him.

Our no-name Samaritan friend went empty, disappointed, broken and wounded, searching for love in all the wrong places. For you see, she was a woman with a reputation and her sin was visible to those looking on. But on that day, she bumped into the one with all the goods of the garden.

There He sat at the well and His lavish love drew her and offered Himself.

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water. “ John 4: 10

In asking her for a drink of water He actually exposed her emptiness and then offered the fullness of Himself. He not only knew that she was empty, but that she had been trying to get her love bucket filled by relationships with men. Suddenly she stood face to face with the only one who could satisfy all of her longing for love and acceptance.

This gift of God that Jesus was offering this broken and empty woman, He offers to you and me. We all have an emptiness that we will do everything we can to get it filled. We resist because our flesh prefers to show up full, needing nothing. Self-fullness gives us that false sense of confidence and security. It feels more impressive to show up with a full bucket but kingdom living requires us to show up empty. We are nothing and have nothing except what He gives.

I see something today that I have never seen before. I have always pictured her lowering her bucket into the well and drawing water for Him, but scripture doesn’t tell us that. The conversation exposed her total emptiness and desperate need for a Messiah. She had nothing to give, not even a drink of water. Suddenly her moment of belief came.

We don’t find her praying the perfect sinners prayer here, but you can almost hear the gasp and gulp of belief as she leaves her water jar and runs home.

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” John 4: 28-30

On that red-letter day, she received Jesus in all of His fullness. Something shifted that day and after her glorious encounter with Him, she sloshed her fullness all the way back to her village. She couldn’t contain it, but had to give it away. In today’s world she would have called ahead. “Meet me on the driveway. Bring an empty bucket. I have something for you.”

Their immediate belief of her story tells me she was a transformed woman. They left the village and followed this sinner-woman all the way to the well to meet this Living Water she testified of.

Oh, my friend, we must encounter a living Savior every day that we may have buckets full of fresh “Living Water” to give away. I must meet with Him to feed myself and I must gather for others He will put in my path each day. Let’s arise early to fill the buckets of our hearts with His fruit. Then into the world we can pour His glorious fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

(Galatians 5:22-23)

Fill a bucket and give it away.

I show up empty to be made full.

I leave full to spill out on others.

...and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19

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