November 26, 2013As a young boy, I grew up deep in the Appalachians of Kentucky. In my thinking even to this day, it was a wonderful place to grow up. Oh, we were poor, but that didn't matter. We learned to find ways as kids to turn our environment into our playground. Whether it was the creek, the mountains, cutting down small trees to make a little log cabin, climbing the tallest tree we could find or crawling back into a cave we stumbled upon, it was a wonderful experience.
When you grow up in that kind of environment, you learn early to work, whether cutting wood, getting the coal in for the potbelly stove or going to get drinking water.
One of my memories was the chore of going to get drinking water at our neighbor's hand-dug well. My younger brother and I with our mentally-handicapped sister would go down the hill, across the country dirt road, down another pathway and then across a swinging bridge to their house. We would then throw a bucket down into the stone-lined well and draw the fresh, cool drinking water up where we filled our buckets.
The trick was getting back home! It was back across the swinging bridge that crossed the creek where our swimming hole was and then all uphill back to our house. We would fill the buckets as full as possible in order to minimize our trips. But because the buckets
were so full and we were small boys, we splashed a lot of water down our pant legs and over our shoes. They were wet!
R. E. O. White, the British preacher, observed that: "The surest sign that you are carrying a full bucket is wet feet."
And, so it is when our lives are full, they will overflow. That is, they will overflow with whatever is in them. This week is Thanksgiving, a week that has been remembered in this tradition by many people in this land in different ways even before we were a nation. Indeed, even in our greatest challenges, we have so much to be thankful for.
But if you are like most people I know, there are times that the adversities of life are so large, it's hard to be thankful. How can it be that one's heart can be overflowing with gratitude when life is hard? The Scriptures take us back to the true well spring that fills ours hearts with thanksgiving, whether in life or death, joy or trial, abundance or dearth. Do you know what it is? It's Jesus Christ!
One of the Scriptures that I love and often turn to says: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans
When one's heart is filled with the growing understanding that Jesus is the only One who has kept all of the law of God perfectly and that He is the only One who can take on the debt of my sin by dying on the cross in my place, that heart will be filled to overflowing. And yes, the overflow will begin to slosh out all around with gratitude indescribable.
And so, the writer of the Scripture goes on to say: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
May your Thanksgiving be like an overflowing bucket filled with the truth of the grace and kindness of God that is found in Jesus Christ.