Once upon a time, in the Thursday morning Bible study at my home church, we did a study called Living Your Life as a Beautiful Offering by Angela Thomas (now Angela Thomas Pharr). One of the lessons in that study was about filling up your cup so that it can run over, because, of course, it’s pretty hard for a cup to run over if it isn’t full to begin with. The bucket or love tank analogy works equally well, and for purposes of the illustration, I want you to imagine a metal bucket.
The crux of the lesson was that no one else can fill your cup (or bucket) for you, you have to do it by staying connected to the source, i.e. God. (Or, if you prefer, Love.) That is to say, a full bucket doesn’t come from other people (and certainly not from just one other person – how exhausting would that job be!), it comes from God. It comes from study, prayer, and meditation; from making time on a regular basis to tap into the source.
I was explaining this to a friend once and told this person that other people can sure as heck dent up your bucket and some can even poke holes in it. Fortunately, others can help you hammer out the dents or patch the holes, but no one person can fill it for you; only Love can fill your love tank.
Now I want to switch gears for just a sec. Hopefully you’re familiar with the ‘big rocks’ analogy about time management and prioritization. Stephen Covey references it in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (If you don’t know it, you can check out a succinct rendition of it here, or a lengthy demonstration here before you go any further.) In the illustration, a jar represents your life, or the time in your day. You have to fill this jar with big rocks, pebbles, and sand. The big rocks symbolize the important things – relationships, career, community involvement, church, etc. The pebbles are the less important stuff like car, house, meetings, appointments, and the sand represents trivial things that take up time but aren’t important – video games, TV, social media, housekeeping… Okay, maybe not that last one. Point being, if you fill up the jar with little, unimportant stuff, there’s not enough room for the big rocks. But if you put the big rocks in first, all the other stuff will sift down into the cracks and spaces between them.
There are variations on this. Depending on who is doing the demonstration, and in what context, God is one of the big rocks, maybe even a bigger rock than the other big rocks. Sometimes people will take it a step further and, after all the big rocks and pebbles and sand are in the jar, they will pour in water to show that there is still room in the jar. Here’s the kicker. I don’t think that God/Love is one of the rocks at all; I think it’s the water. As in, living water. And here’s where it all comes together.
Filling your cup or bucket or love tank with God or Love or living water changes EVERYTHING about the illustration: If you put the water in first — which is to say, if your love tank is full — then every rock you add – family, friends, home, job, school – the things that are MOST important in your life, whatever they are for you – each one you add not only gets wet itself, but also makes some of that water overflow onto everything around it. Then adding the pebbles makes more of that water splash out. Then adding the sand makes more of that water splash out. The key is staying tapped into the source. But do you see what happens then? Everything starts from a place of Love and you always have enough love to share, because you’re always tapped into the Source of love and every single thing you do starts with a full tank that splashes Love onto everything else around you!
And here’s the other cool part: even if this hasn’t been the way you’ve operated thus far, you can add the water any time. The water still soaks into everything and fills up all the empty space as soon as you pour it in, so really, you can fill your love tank any time and still get the same effect! So, first things first: Do you know how to tap into the source, whatever you call it? Do you stay tapped in – meaning do you know to pay attention to your love tank and take time out to fill up when you start to feel depleted? Do you know what your big rocks are and how everything else measures up?
Fill ‘er up! *splishy splashy*