To keep my hanging plants alive in summer, I must water them daily. The task requires a nearly full bucket of water, but the outdoor faucet of our new house lets out an impolite spray when I run it full blast. As much as I enjoy my petunias, I don’t like dousing my knees with the over-shooting water.
Yet, when the faucet is off, the spout leaks, dripping demurely. Figuring I can run the faucet less (and save the dripping water we pay for), I set my watering bucket underneath.
The faucet drips, drips, drips.
I watch for a moment. The bucket’s mouth yawns for so much more than that little it receives. I’ll have to unleash the spraying stream tomorrow before watering to fill the bucket. But at least the inch or two will be a start.
I leave the faucet to its dripping, the bucket to its thirst.
Sometimes my faith feels a lot like that bucket. Always receiving, but never full. Yet I am told that God’s grace, love, and the living water he offers us gush like a fountain, and of course this is true. All around us, God’s goodness roars like the culmination of the waterfalls of the world, like the place where oceans meet, like a monsoon soaking every leaf and branch as far as the eye sees and further still.
But sometimes I cannot see this crushing wave of grace. Sometimes, I put out my palm to gauge the deluge and feel only a single drip at a time on my palm.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
When my husband and I added prayer together to our routine, it too felt like a droplet. The experience didn’t feel better than praying alone felt. In fact, it struck me as awkward. I prayed anyway to honor my husband and because I’d heard praying together is important, though I guess I understood that to mean it was important for my relationship with my husband, not for the sake of my prayers or for my relationship with God.
But then I started to notice those prayers being answered. And then, more prayers to meet an emotional thirst I couldn’t answer myself.
Unlike my leaking faucet, which only gushes full blast when I turn the handle, God’s grace is flowing, full force, all the time and everywhere. But we have to have our bucket right side up to receive it.
We do this through the drip-like task of obedience even before our emotions feel the waves of God’s love and grace rippling in answer. In my case, prayer and submission were a start. (Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline offers an introduction to these and 10 other practices helpful to Christians seeking more of God.) But whatever God has called us to, we have to keep showing up, keep diving deeper, keep believing that what seems like a drip is in fact sufficient like the Bible tells us it is.
As for the bucket under the dripping faucet, twenty-four hours after placing the pail, I returned to find that thirsty mouth full. Each new drop that fell launched another droplet over the lip of the bucket to the damp collection of weed and brick at it’s base. Shocked, I hauled the bucket to water the plants, splashing as I went.
What faith practices have kept your bucket right-side-up, ready to receive the goodness of God?