Dear friend Sue always talks about “bucket-fillers”. These are the people that bless and encourage you. You leave them with a smile and a bounce in your step. Sue is one of them. I thank God for those wonderful folks.
Then there are the opposites. The dreaded “bucket-drainers” who seem to derive their joy by dipping out cupfuls of your joy. I have a confession to make. I have spent too much time recently allowing the bucket drainers to practice their sad gift in my life. I grew discouraged that I try to be transparent and write from my heart only to get smacked down by legalists who seem to miss the point entirely. I know that goes with the territory. I know that I am trying to communicate grace and that some fear that message with a passion that astounds me. I simply grew tired of the beat down from the spiritual hall monitors. If I might paraphrase the comment from the E-Trade baby to his golfing buddy Ralph in a recent TV commericial…
“Why don’t your try reading Ephesians and Romans and Colossians Legal-potamus!”
So I wandered in the cyber desert for the past 30 days. Yesterday I opened up the email and found this message from Mack.
I’m one of your tens of readers. Just curious when you will post again . Hope all is well!!!
Made me chuckle. Earlier I had a similar note from Randy.
I’m sure you get ten-thousand emails like this every day, but i just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that i miss you in the blogosphere. Hope you’re okay.
Uhhh….sure Randy. Each one of my tens of readers send me hundreds of emails each day.
Long ago high school friend Yolanda popped in on Facebook with this message.
Realized I had not been getting any smiles from you lately…hope all is well.
Thanks Mack and Randy and Yolanda for taking a moment to refill the bucket. It means a lot. The power of community and grace is amazing. But my main issue was not the spiritual hall monitors and their comments. The main problem is that I forgot to practice what I was preachin’ when I wrote words like these.
When I was a kid the preachers used to bellow about revival. We need REVIVAL! Lord, give us revival! They would have week long revival meetings badgering us to sell out. We got yelled at about our sin. We heard clearly a message of condemnation and fear. We heard that we had better shape up or else! We heard stories about backslidden Christians burning in hell because they wouldn’t repent. We heard that we had better get serious about Jesus. And we believed we would. That fear based compliance lasted for a day or two or maybe a couple of months if we really got convicted.
What a difference a revival centered on the grace of God might make in the church and ultimately the culture. What if a revival was based not on avoidance of damnation but on being reconciled to have an actual relationship with God? What if Christians really understood that they are new creatures when they put their trust by faith in Jesus? What if Christians really got that there is no condemnation for them because of the Cross? What if Christians really understood that they are no longer have to prove anything and they could instead trust God with their maturing into who He created them to be? What if Christians saw that Jesus stood beside them ready to resolve their sin instead of looking with disappointment from afar? What if Christians learned to trust God and others with who they really are and dropped the dadgum masks? (My grandfather’s favorite Christian cuss word). What if Christians had the courage to put their full weight on these truths of identity and grace and allowed God to love them and others through them? What if Christians really trusted who God says He is? Could we change our walk with Jesus? Could we change our family? Our church? Our culture? Dare we believe this? In Hebrews you find a familiar passage that lays out a simple starting point.
It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. (Hebrews 11, The Message)
You have to trust these truths everyday. You have to remind yourself that you are a saint not because of your knowledge or goodness or discipline but because of Christ. Your humble correspondent forgot who he was for a few weeks. Thanks for caring enough to reach out. We are all in this together. So today I put my full weight on my identity in Christ and the transforming power of grace. It is amazing how quickly the bucket is refilling.