I heard recently that “we minister out of the overflow of our relationship with Jesus.” I know I’ve put it on this blog before that we are like leaky vessels — we receive from God, but as we minister to others and to ourselves, what we received gets used up and poured out — which is why it’s important to have that daily time with God to get filled up for each day. This concept of overflow fits right into that because as we receive from God, we can’t help but have it spill out into our day to day lives. We can’t help but have it spill out into every circumstance or situation we face throughout the day.
I remember once when the girls were really little (waaay before my youngest was born), I was at Aldi’s with two small girls in the cart and we had finally come to the checkout line. Shopping was draining. The girls wanted everything within arms reach. I was about worn out just from saying “No” so many times in this one trip. The line was very long. They only had one checkout lane open and we had been in the store just about long enough for all three of us to reach our limits and start to get cranky. Well, as I had my cart lined up, the old man in front of me veered off to go look at a display on the endcap of the aisle closest to us. I thought he was getting out of line, so I scooted my cart up, like, look at this blessing! I am moving forward in this never-ending line! hahaha. So after a few minutes, the man comes back to his spot in line and is incredulous to discover I had closed the gap! He proceeds to get very cranky with me and starts yelling about how he was in line and how could I be so rude. I shrugged at him and said, “I’m sorry, I thought you were still shopping. It looked like you got out of line!” I’ll admit, I was probably not super nice about my response either. My oldest leaned over and whispered that he was being really mean and I agreed with her. I stood there in a huff. I was agitated. I was annoyed. I mean, how rude, right? I was getting hot, it was hot in the store, and you may or may not know, but I HATE being hot. So my patience (which is usually longsuffering) was significantly dwindling at this point. The line ooched forward and at long last, the man in front of me finally had his turn at the checkout. His total came to some small amount — I can’t remember exactly, but it was probably less than twenty dollars. And his card was declined. I could see the blood drain from his face. He was mortified. And in that moment, even though I knew I had not shined my brightest in my dealings with this cranky guy, I cleared my throat and told the clerk I would pay for his groceries. She was more surprised than the man! She kept asking me, “Are you sure??!” Like she had never in her life experienced such a thing! The old man gave me this look that I will never forget. It was like he was holding back emotion, refusing to let me see any vulnerability. His lips, stretched tight into more of a grimace than a smile, showed that he knew how we had just behaved in public and he couldn’t bring himself to say thank you. It was more like a reluctant nod acknowledging that he knew and I knew that this was a big deal for him. And I knew that he knew, given that I was now buying his groceries, that he shouldn’t have yelled at me moments ago. He never said any other words, just this knowing look when we locked eyes. I don’t think he could have made himself say words at that point.
I’ve been thinking about this story a lot lately. Remembering this moment in time. Because I remember how stressed I was and how exhausted I was with these two small kids that we had just survived the gauntlet of Aldi’s shopping only to be tested at the checkout. And while I was not in the right — I should have shown him more grace in line than I did. I should have given him kindness, softness, and forgiveness for getting out of line and then yelling at me. I didn’t have it to give at the time. While I did help him out, what was my witness? Did he see Christ? I don’t know. I trust God that it helped him and spoke to him in ways I can’t know, but from my perspective, I wasn’t a shining example of Christ in the world. Yeah, I paid for his groceries, but the greater thing would have been if I reacted to the situation in love rather than indignance and annoyance.
But this goes back to my point. In that moment, I didn’t have an overflow to give. I was drained. I don’t remember if that particular day started in the Word or not. I don’t remember those details. I just remember feeling dry and empty and could have used a refill like five minutes before I encountered this man. Heck, one minute. Thirty seconds! Anything! If God would have just knocked me upside the head as I turned the corner to get in line! hahahha.
We never know what we’re going to face around that next corner. We never know who we’re going to meet that we have a divine appointment with that day that has the potential to change the course of their (or our) life forever. We need to always be ready (as Paul says, in season and out of season), even when you least expect it.
So that means we need to turn our focus to our relationship with Jesus. There is always deeper to go. We can be as close to God as we dare to go! No one is stopping us from a stronger relationship with Jesus, but ourselves. We need that time in the Word EVERY DAY. I get it, with kids and work and church and school, and house cleaning and trying to be healthy, and oh and Pinterest tells us we gotta have that side hustle — it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the things. But Jesus said (Matt 6:33) seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL THESE THINGS will be added to you — in other words, everything else will take care of itself when we make seeking God our number one priority.
I’d encourage you to read Matthew 6 today and journal about how God is speaking to you. What does your overflow look like? Are you spending enough time with Jesus that it spills over to others? Or is there even an overflow at all? We all need a refill. We all need more. There is always deeper to go until we cross the finish line and enter eternity.