In your mind’s eye picture a pail of the type in which paint might be purchased. No, not just the typical one gallon paint can, but rather one that would hold five gallons. Sometimes this size pail is even called a 5-gallon pail or bucket. Next, picture a group of young men setting this pail up on a stump and taping a paper plate with a bull’s eye on it to the pail. I’m sure you can imagine what happens next. Of course, with each shot which comes close to or hits the target, two holes are blasted through the pail. It doesn’t take many tries and this pail has many holes in it. Soon the pail is so shot through with holes that tape will not hold the plate to the now jagged surface, and the pail is thrown out and replaced.
Having spent the better part of a Saturday afternoon together target practicing, this group of young men has accumulated quite a number of discarded buckets. Without question, some of the pails are worse off than others. One pail may have many small holes in it as the result of being shot through several times with a .22 caliber rifle. Another may have larger holes in it from the blasts of a large caliber rifle or 12 gauge slugshot. And still another bucket may have a whole side or bottom shot away from the blast of 12-gauge buckshot. The degree to which each bucket is ruined will vary, and this can be shown by filling the buckets with water. With each bucket the water will drain away at a different rate, but in the end, all are empty. All are ruined. Therefore, the significance of a holey bucket is, it simply will not hold water.
Can the life of a Christian be compared with the story of a holey bucket? Does any one of the holey buckets describe your life? The negative implication of the story is that everybody’s life is changed by the experiences that the Lord God brings him through; however, this is the natural, human perspective. It is a sad thing when a young person is deprived of a physical ability and must spend the rest of his life handicapped. It is tragic when a parent or a child is taken from a family and those who remain must live on with that loss. These would be the traumatic incidents that change one’s perspective in life. However, every experience, by the Lord’s grace, empties one of himself and draws that person to God. Every experience that the Lord brings your way is designed to make you more conformed to Him and useful to Him.
How then is a person, who once was brimming with wholeness or emotional stability, more useful to God when he has a handicap or has to live without a family member? The Lord God will dwell within the empty. He will accept no cohabitation with any other thing within the believer. In II Corinthians 12:9, Paul quoting Jesus said, “for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” and in verse 10 Paul states, “when I am weak, then am I strong.” Also in II Corinthians 13:4, Paul, after condemning the obstinate and sinful Corinthians for their boast of might in Christ says, “For we also are weak in him (Jesus), but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.”
Pause here and think about what you just read. Does God handicap the believer or take away family members because wholeness or family members were put before God by that individual? God’s providential love is far too multifaceted to be limited to that single scoped view. Further, one’s love of God displayed in his physical ability or through a loved one are only some of the ways he demonstrates his love for God. Therefore, when health is taken away, the believer can say, praise God, and continue to praise Him throughout his handicapped life. Even in the soreness of the wound of death, the believer must say, praise God, and continue to praise Him. God will accept the love that the believer directs to Him through a family member as proper love to Him, and He demands this. This is the beauty of God’s design in the family as a divine ordinance. But the ability to love God does not leave the believer when a family member is taken away. Job, with spiritual sensitivity and a willingness to conform his love to meet whatever God would send him could say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15).
With an understanding of what it is to be shot through with holes and empty, look now at Genesis 12:2; 26:4 and 28:14. In each of these passages God is conferring the covenantal promises upon the spiritual fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and in each instance some form of “blessed to be a blessing” is stated. God’s intention is to bless the recipient of His covenant and also bless them so that He might use them to bless others. The believer understands himself to be the recipient of God’s blessing by virtue of his participation in God’s covenant and therefore is an instrument through which God blesses others.
A bucket shot through with holes cannot maintain any level of fullness unless it is continually filled. The believer whose life has been radically changed by the Lord God will not be satisfied unless he is continually filled from the River Glorious (that timeless river of God’s grace) and knows of the power, presence and friendship of God through Jesus Christ in a personal relationship. This same believer cannot keep the blessing either, lest it become stagnant and he lose the freshness of his relationship with God. Just as a bucket cannot continually be filled unless it is continually draining, so God will not pour His blessing where there is no craving for it and that which He has delivered He will not allow to become pungent.
In this year that lies before you endeavor to seek God early and in the midday and in the evening as a Daniel. Seek Him as one who has been radically changed and is in constant need of His grace and blessing. Seek Him as an instrument through which He is pleased to bless others.