What’s in Your Cup? The Ingredients

Picture for What's in your CupWhat’s in Your Cup ?
(Part 2)

Vance Havner, an old time preacher asked the question in a sermon, “Have you lost the wonder?”  As life gets busy, schedules get hectic, sorrows mount, pressures increase, personal time vanishes away with deadlines, it’s easy to lose the wonder of just being alive. I recall an evening when I was terribly burdened down with schedules, deadlines, and the expectations others had on my life.  I picked up the phone and called my mother to cry out my pain.  I had lost the wonder of living and needed some help in finding my way.  Her counsel transformed my life.

“Ritchie, what is it that you aren’t doing that you desire to do?”

“Mom, I just need time to go out in the woods and walk in the crunchy fallen leaves.  I need time to just think, be still, commune with God, and be in awe of nature.”

“Then go do it’” she said.  “Just go do it.”

I did…and I’ve never stopped since. Perhaps walking in the woods isn’t your way, but rediscovering the wonder, the zest for living, the enjoyment in everyday, ordinary things, well we all need that.  It’s about having an over-flowing cup,and enjoying the journey.

When I was four-years-old, there was a big rain storm that caused waters to run down the small gulch beside my house in Langdale, Alabama.  The minute the rain stopped, I was out there in the mud, launching my toy boats at the top of the hill.  They sailed away down the “river” to unknown destinations.  I ran to the bottom, scooped them out of the water and launched them again and again.  Cheap fun, but a memory that still brings me joy now sixty years later.

Mr. Otto, the Veterinarian who lived down the street tried to fix the wing of a downed robin I had found on the side of the road. I often took him small, injured creatures, and he was kind-hearted, always promising me he’d do the best he could to patch them up.  I was five-years-old.  My memories of these events have brought me joy, and a little laughter now looking back at some of the requests I made of him.

Wonder is all around us…sometimes we need just the time to remember. I was awed with life and the everyday pleasures it brought.  I remember chasing, and catching a stray cat, dressing him in my dolls clothes, getting scratched terribly in the process, and wondering why he didn’t like his new dress.  During that same time-frame of my childhood, I climbed to the top of our TV antenna and sat on the roof to think…I was a child full of wonder (and mischief too, I suppose!)

There was a Coca Cola Club at the neighborhood general store, and for a nickel I was able to purchase a coke once a week.  I’d get that cola, go out to my front yard, sit on the steps and wait for the semi-trucks to pass by.  It was the thrill of the day when the drivers would pull those ropes and make the horns blow as they passed by.  (Remember doing that?)

In our kitchen, Mom had a world map beside our table.  Each morning before leaving for Kindergarten, we would pray for missionaries in far-a-way countries.  We prayed for the Parkman’s.  They had moved away from our neighborhood with their five children – our friends, and now were missionaries in the Philippines.  When I looked at the map and found the country, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how all seven of them could fit in that small little space on the map.  I also was full of questions how the food I was wasting on my plate could get from my table to that place Mom was pointing to.  You may remember, “Don’t waste that food.  There are children around the world who don’t have anything to eat.”

By the time I was in first grade, I’m sure Mother was wondering what sort of child she had brought into the world.  I found the simplest of things to amuse me; creating places for fun and wonder.  One such place was an old outhouse in the woods behind our home in Leroy, Alabama.  I discovered that by dragging old boards across parts of the inside frame, I could create a perch just high enough to dangle my feet, make the boards bounce, and pretend I was riding on a covered wagon.  I was Annie Oakley…cowgirl extraordinaire.  I doubt it was Good Housekeeping approved, but I had hours of joy playing there.  We didn’t worry much about what it USED to be – we just enjoyed it for what it was NOW. (It all worked out well until I fell and had to spend the night in the hospital with a concussion.)

Do you remember SPOT?  Sure you do. “See Spot? Run Spot, Run.  Jane can run.  See Jane and Spot run.”  Learning to make sense of those words was a little difficult for me at first, but there was the wonder of learning to read and the wonder of the big world opening through the printed page.  And now that I can read quite well, I get too busy to read God’s Word and cry out, “WONDERFUL!”  I’ve lost the wonder!

I grew up in church, and was especially excited that my second-grade teacher, Miss Hooten, sang in our church choir.  It always thrilled me when she walked in wearing the beautiful burgundy robes, singing “The Lord is in his holy temple…let all the earth keep silent.”  I’d always give her a little wave, and get a small little smile in return.  Church was an exciting place, and from earliest childhood, I listened, and felt close to God.  At the age of seven, while visiting my Grandmother’s home in Owensboro, Kentucky, I knelt in her bathroom while dressing for a revival meeting, and asked Jesus to come into my heart and make me His child.  WONDERFUL!  I wanted to tell everyone I met what Christ had done for me.  I told the girls who rode my bus, I told the man who collected the garbage, I told the school bully, Paula, who kept pounding me to a pulp…until one she too asked Jesus to live in her heart.  I had wonder!

My cup was overflowing with joy and life was good!  When I remember, I am refreshed. When I forget and get too busy, the wonder dries up and settles to the bottom of my cup.  I often need to stir and refresh the cup to enjoy the aroma of memory.  I need to drink deeply, and taste the wonder of life.

In a rural area outside Owensboro, Kentucky, there were three yellow barns behind our house.  In the evening when the farmers had gone home, my sisters and I played there in the hayloft.  One of the most wonderful, and dangerous things we did, was to stack tobacco sticks from the floor to the hayloft rafters in such a way as to create a log cabin, with many “floors”.  (I’m sure it was precarious and a miracle we survived such…but we had months of joyous times in that old barn.)

That time in my life wasn’t all about mischief.  It was a time when God was working in my heart, and bringing me closer to Him.  The early morning hours were the best.  I’d get up before my family was awake, go out to the fields barefoot, just to walk across miles of freshly plowed cornfields.  Those were times when God spoke to a little 9 year old girl, – and she listened.  I felt awed by the smells, the dew on the overturned corn stalks, and the dampness of the soil as my feet pressed upon and left footprints.  I would stand in quiet awe as I watched the new day approach.  I had wonder in my life.

When David said in the Psalms, “my cup runs over”, I believe he said it from the vantage point of wisdom.  Having the wonder of life doesn’t mean there won’t be difficult spots along the way.  I remember one of those times when I was in the fourth grade.  A boy and girl, twins in my class, died in a house fire during our Christmas break. I had not treated them very well.  Our entire class had ostracized them because they were smelly, raggedy in their appearance, and social outcasts.  Into my adulthood I have carried sorrow over my lack of being their friend.  God took this bitter-tasting cup to transform the course of my life.  He showed me that “all are precious in His sight.”  God took a bitter cup and turned it into an abundant overrunning cup.

When I was 29, I ruptured a disk, and then another. The news from the neurosurgeon was grim.   We had three adoreable children, but there would be no more.  Once again, God took a bitter cup that was sorrowful, and filled it with abundant joy.  Over the next twenty-five years, God sent us 25 precious foster children who called us “Aunt”, “Uncle”, “Mom”, and “Dad”.  There was Michael, Jimmy, Tony, James, Jessie, Joseph, Bethy, Ray, Billy, Stephanie, Melaine, Elvis, LH, Kellie, Amanda, Paul, Angel, – to name a few.  We saw several of these children trust Christ as Savior.  Each brought wonder into our hearts as we watched the transformation of God’s love change their sad, haunted eyes into sparkling diamonds of joy – just being loved. (I’d have never gone for 25 children by birth – I assure you – and yet, God caused my cup to overflow)  He changed my sorrow into laughter. My cup continues to overflow with joy as on occasion I see tiny snapshots of “my children” in their adult roles.

Cups come in many shapes and sizes.  Textures, raw material, and uses vary widely.  Some are golden, silver, alabaster, or glass.  So it is when we investigate the cup of our life.  Though we cannot determine the infinite variety of the raw material of which our lives are made, we are responsible for the ingredients inside our cups.  If the ingredients are right, they will taste just as sweet from an earthen vessel, as from a golden goblet.  We must remember that Christ drank from a bitter cup to bring us an abundant overflowing cup of salvation.

What’s in your cup today?  Have you lost the wonder of living?  Is your cup empty?  Have you allowed it to become full of pain, bitterness, anger, or discontent?  Is it overflowing with joy, peace, trust, and confidence?

Take hold of God’s promise that “He is our Shepherd, we shall not want.”  “It is He that has made us.”

“He will supply all our needs.” Everything He does, He does in overflowing bounty.  His ways are always characterized by multitudinous and overflowing bounty.  In nature – we see profuse color.  The ocean shows us majesty.  Every molecule of matter is filled with wonders that defy the mind of man.

God sent Jesus that our joy might be full.  So what are we waiting for…go experience the wonder of being alive.  Live life abundantly, let the cup overflow.  Go walk in the woods and let your mind travel across memories of great things God has done for you.  Richard Blanchard’s 2004 song says it all. “Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord, Come and quench this thirsting of my soul…..fill it up and make me whole.” What’s in YOUR cup?


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