Empty To Be Filled
By Stacee Helton
October 27, 2023
I had spent my entire lunch break preparing a lesson for our youth. My husband had traveled out of state to attend a funeral, and I was going to be taking the lead in class that night. I decided that I would use a lesson topic that I had recently prepared for my Sunday School class. Since we had several students out that morning, we talked about a few other things, and I tucked my lesson away for another time. When the funeral date was set for Wednesday, and my husband knew he wouldn’t be back in time for church, this faithful sidekick had an already-prepared lesson. It would be perfect! Little did I realize… there would be even more to share with them.
Since my husband was away, I didn’t sleep much at all on Tuesday night. (I never do when he is gone). I wasn’t scared; I just couldn’t sleep. So, I decided to talk to the One who was here with me; to share with Him some of my lesson plans for our youth, all about the Fruit of the Spirit. As I was speaking with God about why I felt it was an important topic for these teenagers, I added to my reasons this idea of them offering all they have, and being bold enough to use those gifts to honor Him. Then, as He often does, God chose to show me something.
A clear image of a beach came into view. I was standing in the sand, and immediately remembered an old framed print that was literally in every funeral home and some hospital rooms that I often visited with my grandparents, when I was a child. I wondered if He wanted me to remember the poem “Footprints in the Sand”. Maybe He was just reminding me in a special way that I wasn’t really alone, because He was there with me. And then, as this scene played out before me, I looked down and saw a bucket in my hand. It was full of sand, but also other pieces of trash that can sometimes be collected while scooping up sand at the beach. Items such as a twig, a broken seashell, a rock, a piece of glass, old torn bits of paper, etc. I began trying to carry this bucket, but it was so very heavy. So, I decided to drag it. I was trying desperately to reach God with my bucket, but the weight of it made it quite difficult for me.
Finally I reached Him, standing on the shore. He said, “Go ahead… empty it”. (Now this is where I will admit… that part surprised me a little bit. After all, I had just worked so hard to get that heavy bucket all the way over to Him). Already knowing the questions swirling around in my head, He said, “I can’t fill it up with the things I want for you, if you’re still carrying all of that other stuff around. Just lay it all out, here at my feet”.
As I poured out the contents of my heavy bucket, the relief of getting rid of that junk was overwhelming. All of those broken things that had been weighing me down were no longer mine to carry. And now, my bucket was emptied out, and ready to be filled with all of the things He had in mind for me. If I was to truly be of any kind of service to Him, I had to be ready to receive the gifts and plans He had for me… and to also be able to let go of some of those things in the bucket that I thought were glorifying Him, when all along, they weren’t what He wanted or needed from me. He just needed a willing and obedient heart. (And an empty bucket, waiting to be filled again).
As I prepared my lesson for our youth about the Fruit of the Spirit, I would now also be able to share with them this beautiful image that God so lovingly shared with me, when He finally found me quiet and still (and awake) last night. God longs to use us for His Kingdom and for His glory, and is always working to prepare us for every task He places before us. May we strive to serve Him well, and always be ready to have our buckets overflowing with “goodness”. (Which, by the way… just happens to be a Fruit of the Spirit!).