This Page

has been moved to new address

Gathering Empty Pitchers

Sorry for inconvenience...

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Faith Imagined: Gathering Empty Pitchers

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

September 1, 2009

Gathering Empty Pitchers


Women are constantly serving the needs of others. Almost every night we fall into our beds depleted of energy and devoid of passion. We are completely empty, and we wonder how we’ll find the strength to make it through another day.

I’ve had many nights like this. Out of obedience, I pour into the lives of family and friends, and I fulfill the many obligations that come with life. Hands continuously grope at the fleeting seconds of my day, and I desperately search for the scraps. When there are no leftovers to be found, I hold my empty hands up to God and cry out, “Lord, there is nothing left for me!”

As I contemplated more ways to hoard my little scraps, God taught me a beautiful lesson that has forever changed my life. He taught me how to Gather Empty Pitchers!

I read the story about Elisha and the widow found in 2 Kings: 4.1-7.

A prophet died and left his wife and sons with a considerable debt. The debtor was going to come and take the widow’s sons away to pay for the debt. The widow came to Elisha and asked for his help. Elisha asked the woman if she had anything of value, and at first the woman said no; but then she admitted to having a little oil. Elisha told the woman to gather all the pitchers she could find and take the oil and fill each of them. The oil poured out until there were no more empty pitchers. The woman was able to sell the oil and keep her sons.

When I read this story, I imagined the woman carefully pouring her oil into each pitcher. As she held one of the pitchers and poured oil to its rim, she cried out, “Another pitcher, please.” But there were no more. I could see the desperation on the woman’s face as she realized how very few pitchers she had filled.

I felt the woman’s anguish over not having more pitchers. I wished that she would have been more prepared. If she would have taken Elisha’s words more seriously, she would have spent weeks or even months gathering empty pitchers. That’s when I felt God say to me, “You are gathering empty pitchers.”

I didn’t quite understand what God meant, but I knew He was about to give me hope in my obedient emptiness.

I meditated on the story for several days, discussing it with God and friends. Finally, I felt the last puzzle piece fall into place and an amazing image of empty pitchers appeared in my mind. I figured out how I could gather empty pitchers! At long last, I understood how I could find my “true self” by sacrificing myself!

Jesus said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” (Luke 9.23 Message).

How could “Self-sacrifice” be beneficial to finding my “true self”?

If God is my Creator and the Creator of all things, wouldn’t it stand to reason that He knows me better than I know myself? And if He designed me for a specific purpose, wouldn’t it be to my benefit that I surrender to His will completely?

But why does it seem that God would have us continuously pour ourselves into those around us? So many times we want to be like the widow. She didn’t want to let Elisha know that she had a small jar of oil at home. We do the same thing. We don’t want to let go of the little time, resources and energy we have because we’re scared there will be nothing left for us.

But this is not the case. Every time we pour our lives out for God’s glory, we leave an empty pitcher for God to fill. Every time we serve the needs of our children, we leave an empty pitcher. Every time we sacrifice our bodies for our husbands, we leave an empty pitcher. Every time we pour into the lives of our friends, we leave an empty pitcher. Every time we give resources to the poor and disadvantaged, we leave an empty pitcher. And every time we surrender our desires to the Holy Spirit, we leave an empty pitcher.

Sometimes God fills those empty pitchers immediately, and we are instantly blessed for our sacrifice. However, most of the time, the empty pitchers gather. God allows them to gather because He knows that He is about to open the heavens and pour down the blessings. He wants you to be ready with a bunch of empty pitchers, so you do not cry out, “Another pitcher, please!”

This revelation has helped me because now I look forward to leaving empty pitchers. Every time I serve those around me, I open myself to be blessed by God. And the most awesome part about pouring myself out to others is that God loves my emptiness! He can complete His divine work only in my emptiness! The “real me” shows up when I have nothing left to hoard!

Be constantly mindful, though, that you do not try to get others to fill your pitchers. Wait on God's hand! If we expect others to give us something in return, God will not bless our actions. He only fills empty pitchers (Matthew 6.1).

Sometimes we forget that God is the everlasting Creator. He specializes in creating something out of nothing. In the Old Testament God created life out of emptiness: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1.2 NIV). And in the New Testament God created new life from an Empty Tomb (John 20).

If we are constantly pouring ourselves into the lives others, God is able to create something beautiful within our emptiness. So many times we think we could do a better job than God can at molding us. We pray to God to make us more like Him; then, we scold Him for not doing things our way (Isaiah 29.16). God created life! How could we possibly top that? Whenever we try to take control, we just create chaos and heartache.

God in His infinite wisdom knows that we want to meddle with His creation, so He ensures our humbleness by keeping us continually poured out to others. Our brokenness allows the Holy Spirit to easily pour through us, and it makes us more malleable so that God can complete the good work He started in us (Philippians 1.6).

God is so awesome because He made our self-sacrifice doubly good. God blesses us when we sacrifice for others because we are able to leave empty pitchers for Him to fill and He blesses us when we sacrifice for others because He is able to create us into His image. It’s the best two-for-one-deal in the entire universe! This is why Jesus said that the only way to find your “true self” is to sacrifice yourself. Only God knows our “true self” and only He can complete His design.

So the next time you feel exhausted and your lift your empty hands up to God, cry out to Him, “God, create life in me!” And if you feel like you’ve messed up the life He has already given you, lift up your hands to Him and cry out, “God, create new life in me!”

If you can stay broken by continually pouring yourself into the lives of others, God will be able to bless you and create your emptiness into a thing of beauty. Don’t hold anything back! Trust God with all you have and start gathering empty pitchers!


Labels: , , , , ,

23 Comments:

Blogger Connie Walsh said...

One thing I have noticed in a similar vein is that I am looking for some recognition when I empty all those pitchers.

I have had an experience lately where every time I go out of my way to help, the help-ee is less than thankful. Even my sweet dogs have been turning up their noses at my homemade dog food.

I have realized that I must do what is right even when I don't get any reaction. Pride...darn it's a sneaky one.

3:11 AM  
Blogger Alisa Hope Wagner said...

Connie, thank you for this insight!!! I added a little pargraph about not expecting others to "fill our pitchers!"

Don't you just hate pride! It is so sneaky!

6:47 AM  
Blogger Crissy said...

Love this!!!

8:28 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Oh, I so needed to read this today...it really touched my heart more than you know...I am bookmarking this as one of my favorite all-time posts...this blessed and convicted me at the same time....

8:48 AM  
Blogger Red Writing said...

Great insight! I am excited to explore more of your blog and writing. Keep up the good work!

12:41 PM  
Blogger Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love yours and will definitely be back!

1:20 PM  
Blogger Yankee Girl said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.

What a great analogy. That is exactly how I feel at the end of every day. Except Sundays. That is the day my husband does everything and I get to sit back and watch him!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Warren Baldwin said...

Good statement: "Be constantly mindful, though, that you do not try to get others to fill your pitchers. Wait on God's hand! If we expect others to give us something in return, God will not bless our actions. He only fills empty pitchers (Matthew 6.1)."

Further, if we look to others to fill our pitchers, we will b/c dependent on them (co-dependent?), and not on God. And can we trust that what we will be filled with by someone else will be the true spirit of God? No.

Good post.

1:08 AM  
Blogger SunJane said...

It's early I"m tired but my prayer will be different this morning.
"Empty me of myself God" I want to gather a lot of those pitchers.
thanks Alisa
-Sunny

6:53 AM  
Blogger Helene said...

Wow, that was powerful!!! And very insightful. You made some wonderful points....points which I often forget about!!!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Toknowhim said...

First I wanted to come by and tell you thanks for participating at the "Cafe Chat" today...

But how nice to come here, and read your blog post...I think I really understand what you are saying...Self sacrifice is crucial in a Christian's life.

Feel free to stop by my blog anytime...

Blessings

8:50 PM  
Blogger Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

What a great post.....Love your blog....I had a few hours to blog hop tonight and so enjoyed yours. Hope you will stop by and visit my new Christmas blog. There is a great giveaway this week. http://grammyababychangeseverything.blogspot.com

10:51 PM  
Blogger Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

What a great post.....Love your blog....I had a few hours to blog hop tonight and so enjoyed yours. Hope you will stop by and visit my new Christmas blog. There is a great giveaway this week. http://grammyababychangeseverything.blogspot.com

10:51 PM  
Blogger 2nd Cup of Coffee said...

I have to tell you how wonderful this post is. When a believer reads so much about growth and listens to years of sermons, sometimes it's difficult to create a helpful tool for new growth. Your image of the gathering the empty vessels helped me, a concrete, linear thinker, to file away tool to use when I feel empty. Thank you so much.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Melissa Miller said...

What an inspiring post Alisa!

~Blessings to you this Labor Day my friend. ~Melissa :)

1:32 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Simply lovely. Off to go fill my pitchers.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Alene said...

Girl - check out my new blog! Your Sista is AMAZING!!!!! Love ya.

3:49 PM  
Blogger thatdesigngal said...

Another awesome post, thank you so much for sharing this with us.

This really rang true for me: "Whenever we try to take control, we just create chaos and heartache." Man, that get me (chokes me up even). And I am a control freak, believe me the two aren't mixing. I think that is what I am going through right now.

I am going to be pondering this post for awhile. Thank you

Mary

11:20 PM  
Blogger OceanDreams said...

Thanks for this Alisa, what a wonderful topic to discuss! You are right, as woman we often feel so busy and bombarded by so many tasks, yet God continues to feel up our pitchers and make us whole again!

Thanks for your good wishes on my race, it went well! Hope you enjoy your week and that you had a relaxing weekend!

2:29 PM  
Blogger Bernadine said...

"However, most of the time, the empty pitchers gather. God allows them to gather because He knows that He is about to open the heavens and pour down the blessings."

Love this post! What a great analogy and a blessing to read this today.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Warren Baldwin said...

Reread this post. This time I thought of 2 Cor. 5 where Paul says God puts his treasure in clay pots. Another biblical application for your metaphor, which was very good (for men or women).

10:56 PM  
Blogger Deborah Ann said...

What a precious message! Whoa, that's a tongue twister. Try and say it 3 times in a row as fast as you can. Hehe.

Girl, you are gifted! I hungrily read through your post, knowing there's a big old blessing in there. What a revelation on empty pitchers!

Blessings,
Debby

6:04 PM  
Blogger Toknowhim said...

Well, I am back again today to tell you I liked how you answered today's Cafe Chat question... You are right on....

Feel free to visit me at my personal blog anytime as well..

Blessings

8:24 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home