Psalm 23

Empty or Overflowing?

How much we get is up to us…

Isn’t it awesome to go to a restaurant, order an iced tea, and know they’re going to refill our cup over and over, as much as we can drink? One sip or five refills plus a to-go tea—it’s up to us.

In Psalm 23:6, David says, “…my cup overflows.” Not, “my cup has a little in it.” Not, “My cup is full.” No—our cup actually overflows! Luke 6:38 also promises overflowing blessings: “…Abundant gifts will pour out upon you with such an overflowing measure that it will run over the top! Your measurement of generosity becomes the measurement of your return.” Our generosity determines our blessing. Just like iced tea in a restaurant, how much blessing we get is up to us.

The fullness of our cup isn’t limited by God’s generosity, but by our own. How much blessing do we want? How full do we want our cups to be? Here are five levels of filling. Where are we now? And where do we want to be?

  1. The Empty Cup: The Miserable Christian. We all get empty once in a while, but God never intended us to live continuously empty and miserable. A broken cup leaks. Jesus understands brokenness. He was broken so we could be made whole.
  2. The Least-Filled Cup: The Minimalist Christian. The minimalist lives from storm to storm, from struggle to struggle, constantly battling. Jesus didn’t come to give us a minimal life; he came to give us abundant life.
  3. The Half-Empty Cup: The Pessimist Christian. Even when things are going pretty well, this person dwells on the bad, focusing on the negative and ignoring the positive. Flip that attitude by focusing on the good God has done in the past and the amazing work he’s doing right now.
  4. The Full Cup: The Selfish Christian. The selfish Christian has a full cup but focuses only on their own wants and needs. Answer my prayer. Meet my needs. Bless my children. Ask this question: If God answered all my prayers, would the world change? Or would only my world change?
  5. The Overflowing Cup: The World-Changing Christian. As we continue to say “yes” to God, as we continue to be generous and obedient, he continues to pour into our lives until we overflow with his love and grace. As God’s goodness spills out of our lives, it touches those around us, changing the world one heart at a time.

When a server in a restaurant asks us if we want more iced tea, we choose to say “yes” or “no.” Our answer determines how much tea we get. We can’t blame the server for not bringing more tea if we said “no.”

In the same way, God’s great mercy, grace, and love just keep on flowing…as long as we keep on saying “yes” to his leading. Each next step, each obedient action, each act of kindness and generosity keeps our cups full and overflowing, leaving a trail of salt and light that changes the world.

Dear God, thank you for being the Good Shepherd. And thank you for offering to fill me to overflowing with your goodness. Help me be obedient to your instructions. Help me say yes to your leading. Let me be a vessel the overflows with your goodness and changes the lives of those around me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

God's plan

Choosing Worms

“Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by these many distractions? Are they really that important?” (Luke 10:42)

Do you have any stories in your family so amazing they become part of your family’s lore? We have a lot of stories like that. One of them involved Brianna and the worms.

When Brianna was about three years old, her dad, Wade, wanted to take her fishing. He packed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and milk, and gathered the fishing poles and bait. Both were excited as they pushed the boat into Mud Lake, ready to catch some fish.

Not too long into the trip, Wade noticed the lid was off the nightcrawler container. Then he looked at Brianna, and a fearful suspicion grew in his mind. Brianna’s mouth was dirty. Surely, she did not eat worms. Surely, it was not nasty nightcrawler dirt covering her mouth.

Wade asked a question he never expected to hear come out of his mouth: “Brianna, did you eat the worms?”

Brianna smiled a dirty, wormy smile, and said, “Yes, daddy!”

We’re more like Brianna than we think. Our Father plans peanut butter sandwiches and cookies for us, and we get distracted and eat the worms instead.

Our Father plans peace and we choose to worry. Our Father plans a perfect blessing and we ignore it, grabbing the first distracting object we see. Our Father says, “Wait for lunch,” and we say, “Ooh, yummy worms!”

In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus was at Mary and Martha’s house. Mary planted herself at the feet of Jesus and absorbed every word he said. Martha was distracted and exasperated by all the work needed to make a beautiful meal for her guests. Martha’s Father planned spiritual growth at the feet of Jesus, but Martha chose instead to impress people with her elegant hospitality. She chose to eat the worms.

There’s an element of warning in the story of Brianna and the story of Martha. We’re cautioned not to become so distracted by any earthly thing that we miss what our Father offers. It’s always better to reject the worms and eat the peanut butter.

But there’s a second, probably even more important, lesson to learn. Even though Brianna chose to eat the worms, Brianna’s father still loved her. Though Jesus didn’t approve of Martha’s choice, he didn’t stop loving Martha. And our heavenly Father still loves us, even when we look up at him with nightcrawler dirt on our faces.

We may mess up. We may make some bad choices. But nothing we do will make God love us less. He won’t kick us out of the boat because we ate the worms. On the contrary, he will do what Wade did. He will clean us up. He will offer us the good things he has planned for our lives. And he will look at us with eyes of love, smile, and call us his beloved.

Dear God, I choose to eat the worms more often than I like to admit. Life often distracts me from the perfect blessings you long to put in my life. Thank you for loving me even when I mess up. Help me trust the wisdom and goodness of your plan, even when I can’t see it. In Jesus’s name, amen.