I read it everywhere, it seems. Scrolling through social media and I see it as a meme, a word of encouragement to another, or a self-motivated proclamation. “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” In other words, you can’t give to others if you are lacking in your own life. Seems accurate.
The first time I heard it I began my search for things that would make me feel good about myself. Things to fill up my cup. Shortly after my firstborn, I committed to a workout program and even created a motivational fitness group via Facebook. I splurged on myself by purchasing from and helping close friends selling products through Multilevel Marketing (MLM). I took every opportunity I could to dash out of the house for some “me time”. A couple hours here and there to be alone while my husband looked after the kids.
So, I had my things in place. I could feel good about myself, finally. I could work at breakneck pace to pour out even more than I had before. Until I couldn’t. Those things weren’t enough. The more I searched, the emptier I felt. My cup looked dirty. It looked beaten. It even became broken.
It didn’t take long for me to fall short of my fitness expectations and I slinked away with zero motivation (or cares). I learned I had been spending too much money to splurge on myself. What was intended to help me feel good actually became an addiction. In an effort to abandon the new habit, I felt worse than I did prior to splurging on myself. And although time alone can be super helpful, it just seemed as if it was not enough. I have faced feelings of guilt for both leaving my family and for wanting to be gone longer!
I questioned the legitimacy of this statement. I mean, I knew when I felt dirty, beaten and broken, I certainly did not have lovely things to give to others. But, if this were true, where did it all go wrong?
Then one day, one of my favorite home décor pieces caught my eye. It’s a long canvas with the 23rd Psalm written upon it- which is what makes it a favorite. My eyes fixated on one line- over and over again. “..My cup overflows with blessings..” (Psalm 23:5, NLT).
And it was as if divine revelation came pouring into my very spirit. An old hymn came back to my recollection.
Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
–Fill My Cup, Lord by Richard Blanchard
It was confirmed to my being. I had been searching in the wrong ways for my cup to be filled. Workouts. Clothing. Make-up. Motivational books. Quiet time. Coffee. And while these things are not necessarily bad things, they’re not good things when I do not seek Jesus first.
You see, there’s an account of Jesus meeting a dirty, beaten and broken woman at a well. And He asks her for a drink. She says something to the effect of “Well, I’ve been told I can’t pour from my empty, dirty, beaten, broken-down cup”. (My own paraphrasing of John 4:1-9). And Jesus’ response is radical.
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”… But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”- John 4:10 & 14
The real answer for all my searching is found here. It’s Jesus. It’s He who fills my cup overflowing with blessings. It’s He who takes my dirty and makes me fresh. It’s He who takes my beaten and makes me a bubbling spring. It’s He who takes my broken and gives me eternal life.
Jesus must come first. Nothing else is ever going to satisfy. Sure, it’s true. “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” But, I can surely pour continually from The Well that never runs dry.
Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”- John 7:37-38 (NLT)