Most days where the comfort of Psalm 23 provides just what I need. And, being a teacher, I especially needed the reminders of those verses at the end of May. I needed still waters. I needed to know the right paths and I definitely needed a full cup. I emptied myself for the past nine months and I felt like I couldn’t find a single drop left in my cup, not even any sticky residue left around the edges. I was bone dry.
In my desolate state, I meditated on the solace of Psalm 23 and something hit me. What is in my cup? Yes, Jesus, my salvation, definitely occupied my cup. But am I allowing Jesus to fill the majority of my cup or does He have to fight for room? Could Jesus be found running over the edges of my cup? In my desperate state of emptiness, I had my doubts.
See, the Spirit brought me to the realization that our cups are never really empty. Our cups are always full of something and like it or not, those contents splash around on those near us. The question then becomes, what are we allowing in our cup and what are we therefore spilling out? Where are we finding our source of life and how is that affecting others?
What fills my cup?
At the end of the school year, my cup had simply become over run. Sure, I read my Bible daily, I prayed more or less, I even put out my weekly blog post and daily devotions. Jesus remained in my cup! But He wasn’t the only thing inside.
Worry over a few situations that I couldn’t control sloshed around in there. Busyness that comes with an active family continued to be poured in. Sticky stress over trying to teach distracted children clung to the rim. And if I am being totally honest, the burden of social expectation floated around, catching me off guard. Was I doing everything I needed so that people saw me the way I wanted them to?
My cup overflowed with standards that I could never hope to meet independently and truthfully they were probably standards that Jesus could care less if I ever met. But regardless, all that junk permeated my cup, and therefore fueled my life, for better or worse.
I know what you are thinking, some of those things can’t be changed. I mean, I don’t even want to get rid of my active family. I love them and honestly, in some ways, I love our busyness. It is all a choice.
But the stress and worry and unbelievably high expectations (okay maybe all expectations), those things didn’t have take up space in my cup. I chose – yes, it is still all a choice – to let them stay. And because I let them linger in my cup, guess what overran and spilled out on those around me… you got it. Stress. Worry. Disappointment.
But I have a better portion.
As women, we need to make deliberate decisions about what flows into our cup. Psalm 16:5 tells us Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup (NIV). See that word alone. Jesus alone is our portion. Not because that is the only thing going in our cup, but because that is the only thing we need to stay in our cup. Jesus is all we need.
Now, don’t think because Jesus is the only occupant of our cup that it will be void. In fact, the opposite is true. If we really let Jesus fill our cup, if we really allow Him to be our portion – our total portion – no junk or cheap substitutes, then our cup will be full of many other benefits as well.
First and foremost, we will have a intimate relationship with Jesus. He will be so alive inside of you that you will not go a day without hearing something from Him. And because of your close relationship with Christ, you will build more meaningful relationships with others. Old relationships will have more depth and new relationships will grow out of your work for Christ.
Also through allowing Christ to be our portion, we will be full of scripture and prayer. I love this too, because I don’t have the best reactions. Sometimes I can get a little fiesty or jump to conclusions. Knowing that scripture and prayer fill my cup – fill my life – I am more likely to have a Christ-like reaction. I am more likely to let Christ spill out of my cup.
Don’t you see a pattern here? When Christ is filling our cup, and all these other aspects grow in our lives, joy and contentment become incredible by-products. We are built up and supported through scripture, prayer and Godly relationships. When stress and worry try to slip into our cup, they will be swallowed up by Jesus. We should have so much Jesus in our cup, that there is not room for anything else.
What is overflowing?
And while our lives will surely improve when we make a point to fill up on Jesus, let me make one point clear. In Psalm 23 when it said My cup overflows (NIV), that extra is not for us. We are not a fountain and the excess is not cycling back to refill our tank. The excess flowing out of our cup is for others below us.
Now, when I say others below us, sometimes that is more literal, like helping the poor or needy. If you are theoretically above others on the socioeconomic scale, then yes, we are most definitely called to share our excess – and really more – with them.
But sometimes those who need our excess are not really below us. They may currently be having a drought in other areas that are flooding in our lives. Like I have a friend currently going through a divorce. She is a strong Christian mom, but her life is caught in the in-between right now. She is unsettled.
I know I hate being unsettled, no matter the reason, and my life is – as much as it can be – fairly settled right now. No illness, no moving or transitions. I am in a place to support her right now. I probably don’t allow my excess to reach her enough, but I do send her prayers and scripture as led by the spirit and lift her up in prayer almost daily.
Whether the need be physical, spiritual, or emotional, what is overflowing from our cup, should be an encouragement to those around us.
Okay, let me stop right here and go back to the beginning. Remember what was in my cup? Stress, worry, and disappoint… So, guess what I was allowing to overflow to others. Guess what excess my family and friends were getting. Not love and prayers and support, as they needed. No, they were getting exactly what I was letting build up in my cup.
I let stress, worry, disappointment and a host of other negative emotions fill my cup. Because I let those negative emotions say in my cup, as opposed to letting Jesus be my portion, those below me and around me, had to deal with those negative emotions as well.
Our cups are not just about us. Our portion is not ours and ours alone. Jesus fills our cups and allows it to overflow so that we can spread the excess with others. He wants the extra love and joy and strength that He gives us to spill over to those around us. He wants our cup to be an example to those around us.
In this way, when we ask the question: Is our cup running over or just over run? We need to remember this is not just an individual concern. Yes, we are a much better person when we allow Jesus to be our portion and our only portion, but we greatly impact the lives of others – for better or for worse – based on the condition of our cup.