Sometimes I need to explain something to my children before I understand it.
It’s like truth needs to get on a preschool level in order to get past the cynical defenses of my mind.
We’re memorizing Psalm 23 for Awana and we get to the phrase, “My cup overflows.” There we are the three of us, David, Elanor, and me, around the island in our kitchen, finishing breakfast, each with our cups. Brennan is watching from his baby swing.
And David wonders what the phrase, “My cup overflows,” is doing in the psalm.
“Imagine you tell God you are thirsty and ask Him for a drink of water,” I say. “Do you think He’s going to say, ‘Well, okay, I guess so, but only one drop?’” And I exaggerate a very stingy sprinkle in our cups.
“No…” David and Elanor say doubtfully.
“No! He’s going to say, ‘I have lots of love and kindness to give you. Here, have some more. And have some more! I have even more to give you. Look, it’s overflowing!’”
I’m just pantomiming this. I don’t get so excited about Bible class as to make a mess in my kitchen.
But I’m suddenly struck by how I hold up the cup of my life to God, expecting Him to be stingy, hoping that if I can perform well enough, I will earn a drop or two of grace. My mind knows that it doesn’t work that way, but I can be so performance-based that it’s hard for my heart to get it. Overflowing love and kindness, into my life?
“If your cup overflowed with water it would make a big mess,” I said. “Do you think it makes a big mess when your life overflows with God’s kindness?”
“No,” David says. “Because it would overflow out of me and hit Elanor. And hit Brennan.”
“That’s how we be kind to each other,” I say. “We have so much of God’s kindness pouring into our lives that it can’t help but overflow out and splash the people around us.”
And I think about this. How my heart perspective of a stingy God who gives me a drop of grace here and there, like a dry orange I’m squeezing hoping for a little more juice, results in a grace-less life, where I’m reluctant to give grace to others because I have so little myself. Or do I see myself as receiving an overflow that can’t help but splash around in my family?
Grace is and maybe always will be hard for me to get, at a deep gut level. But word pictures, overflowing cups, and imaginative children help.