A few times a year my husband allows me the privilege to get away for the weekend. Since I am a Methodist I belong to the United Methodist Women Organization. During the summer we have a weekend program called Mission U. It is a mini university. We come together and study and discuss topics that are current and important to all of us. I always come home reenergized, renewed and ready to take on the problems of the world.
As I was thinking about this a pitcher keeps coming to my mind. A pitcher is used to pour out liquid into another vessel, usually a glass or cup. The pitcher is only good if it has something in it. We’d like the pitcher to be full so many cups and glasses can be filled from this pitcher. When we fill multiple cups and glasses our pitchers have to be refilled with whatever we want the glasses or cups to be filled with. This all makes perfect sense doesn’t it?
I was called to be the Compassionate Listener for the weekend. On Friday evening as I was setting up my mini worship center one of the Directors of Mission U brought some things to help make it look like a worship center. One of the items she pulled out was….a pitcher. All I could see was water being poured out. I first thought of how I needed to pour myself out and then refill myself with Christ so I could do what He called me to do. The other thing that came to mind was how we come to be filled full with Christ so we can go back and fill the lives of others with God’s love, mercy and grace plus all the things we were taught this weekend. Isn’t God great?
One of the many ways I was filled this weekend was by seeing those sisters in Christ I hadn’t seen in a while. You are immediately greeted with hugs and lots of love. But, more than that I was filled by listening to the stories they had to share about how God was working or had worked in their lives since we had been together. God is alive and working today. I heard stories of healing. I heard stories of hope and trust. Listening to others tell about their experiences with God will fill you up faster than going to the well and drawing water. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19” When we take the time to listen to others God will fill us every time. Listening is the key. We must listen with our heart and not only our ears. It’s not about listening for a break so we can jump in and tell our story or experiences. It’s listening with full attention and seeing God in the other person. Sometimes we wonder with all the things going on today if God is among us and present. When you listen to others share their God like experiences it renews your hope.
Another way I was able to be filled of course is through the Word. Sharing the word and sharing scriptures that are meaningful to each of us. Listening to see what God has to say on the very thing we are concerned about will fill your pitcher with words of comfort and hope. There is nothing going on in this world that the Bible does not discuss. It is up to each of us to search out scripture and study it. We don’t study it hoping to find the Bible will reinforce our beliefs. We study to confirm our beliefs or to see if our belief is steering us in the wrong direction. Sometimes what I want to believe about a person or culture, or sin is contradictory to what God is telling me in the Bible. Because I am human I want to interpret the Bible a certain way or with thoughts that are often worldly and not Christ like. It’s up to each of us to come to the Bible with an open mind, clear thoughts and always a teachable heart. When we invite the Holy Spirit to be with us as we study the Bible new thoughts and ideas open up. “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16.13). I love hearing others talk and interpret the scriptures. Often times they will look at scripture from a different angle or maybe through a circumstance scripture has opened up for them. Seeing scripture through others experiences or hearing scripture from a different angle or perspective often opens up to new ideas and thoughts. We take these new thoughts and ideas pray over them and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us in the path we should go.
I can’t sing that is something that is well known to my family, but I love to sing. I make a joyful noise. God calls us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Psalm 100:1-2” When we come into God’s presence in Worship God calls us to sing. We love to hear small children sing, even if they can’t carry a tune. If they are our children or grandchildren we just sit and smile and we love it. That’s the way I think it is with God. He loves to hear our singing even if it’s not so pleasant for others. I think he’s proud of the effort that we make. We sang new songs and we sang old songs, but during those songs God’s presence was felt and our hearts were touched. Our lives were filled with God’s glory and his presence.
There is nothing better than sitting around a table and sharing a meal with friends and family. The stories that are told while sharing a meal, the funny conversations, talking about children and grandchildren and the smiles as we talk about a favorite recipe or our favorite food warms our hearts and fills our time with joy. We heard laughter coming from the many different tables, we heard about new jobs and challenges and we heard about health concerns that need our prayer. Christ shared a meal with his Disciples on many occasions and not only was their stomachs filled, but also their soul. My soul was filled once more as I heard the many tales told around the table. On Saturday night watermelon was served outside. The memories that were shared of childhood as we tasted the sweetness of the watermelon were filling.
My pitcher was not empty when I got to camp on Friday night but when I left on Sunday it was full and ready to be shared with others. One of the things I needed to do was to pour myself out and allow God to pour Himself into me. Then over the weekend as I poured out God’s love on others I was filled with their love and God’s love once more.
I don’t think I can see a pitcher the same way again. As I pour the liquid out of the pitcher I will think about how I need to pour myself out so God can refill me. I will think about the many ways I can be refilled as I become empty. Listening to others, God’s word, singing and worshipping are just some of the many ways I was filled this weekend, but the greatest filling of all was love; the love we shared and the love we felt from God.
How is your pitcher? Have you poured yourself out so God can fill you with Himself? Are you pouring God’s love out to others so they may be filled? Do you need a filling?
Dear God, once again I thank you for Mission U and all those who worked so diligently to put it all together, to bring us together and to help us become one in you if for just a short weekend. Thanks for filling me with your goodness, your love and the love of sisters in Christ. May others be filled to the brim with your love and the love of others. May you fill others through song, your Word, worship, laughter, tears and by listening. May our lives never become so empty we have nothing to share with others. Guide us and direct our paths and lead us to those who need to be filled so we may fill their lives with your love. Amen