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Leaky Buckets

faith stress May 28, 2020

Is your bucket of “confidence in God” full or have you developed a few holes in the bottom?

How fast does your trust in God leak out when there’s a bump in the road?

In the story of the Exodus, the children of Israel’s 40-year road trip is filled with adventure, escape, victory, provision, God’s glory, and blessing. Their buckets are full as their confidence in God grows and their hearts are filled with praise.

But just as quickly as you read of wholehearted commitment to God, you then read of complaining, terrible sin, disobedience, and accusation.

Their faith in God leaks out onto the desert sand and is replaced with fear, lack of faith, and hopelessness.

The same thing can happen to us, and does.

Faith in God leaks out onto the desert sand and is replaced with fear, lack of faith, and hopelessness.

We are warned in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 that we may experience God’s wonder and grace like the children of Israel did, and still have our faith leak out of our bucket as we allow temptation, stress, discontent, and self-reliance to defeat us. We are to be constantly on guard so that we never lose sight of God’s power and faithfulness to save us.

These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.

1 Corinthians 10:11-12 MSG

Here are 3 ways our bucket of “confidence in God” gets leaks in the bottom and 3 ways to plug up the holes.

Leaks and Plugs

What creates a leaky bucket in my life?

1. Staying in a Place of Stress and Agitation

When issues and situations “rattle” me, if I don’t resolve the emotions within a short period of time it starts an unbalanced stress spin-cycle in my heart.

Picture your washing machine clicking from the wash to the spin cycle. It starts slow and you hear the pump draining water from the drum. Eventually it picks up speed and spins faster and faster. If everything is working correctly it will be a smooth rotating action removing all the extra unwanted moisture. But if something heavy inside creates an imbalance, instead of spinning smoothly it goes “bam-bam, bam-bam, bam-bam.” Unless you want to possibly harm the washer components you should stop your machine and rearrange the heavier clothes, blankets, and towels.

Stress, agitation, and unsettledness are like unbalanced, heavy, wet towels in your washing machine that go bam-bam in your body, soul, and spirit until you take action to address the issues.

If we do not learn to manage stress correctly it can negatively impact both our mental and physical well being. Prolonged periods of stress, for example, can affect our ability to digest food and sleep, while laying the foundation for mental issues such as anxiety and depression. It is therefore vital that we recognize when our body is in toxic stress so we can quickly move out of the "danger zone". 

Dr. Caroline Leaf

How to plug the hole in my leaky bucket:

Stress, agitation, and rattled emotions will continue to intensify until I interrupt their unbalance in my life.

I do this by:

  • intentionally paying attention to my thoughts and the reactions that follow.
  • calming myself down enough to sit quietly, meditate, and listen.

When I capture my thoughts and wait quietly before God, then I can hear God speak to my heart. He assures me again that he is taking care of me, he is my victory, and my safety and shelter.

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

Psalm 61:1-2 NLT

FAITH RISES

When that truth connects with my spirit, soul, and mind - faith rises - and the spin-cycle whirls smoothly. 

2. Losing Heart

Why is discouragement so easy to fall into and so hard to climb out of?

If you feel this way, you are not alone.

Job’s friend replies: In the past you have encouraged many people; you have strengthened those who were weak. Your words have supported those who were falling; you encouraged those with shaky knees. But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart. You are terrified when it touches you. Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?  Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?

Job 4:3-6 NLT

Job is a poetic book in the Bible with a series of conversations between Job (a God-fearing man who has lost everything and now suffers with ulcers and scabs from head to foot) and his three friends.

Now many times throughout this book I question their friendship and the arguments they make against Job, but these verses starting me thinking and asking:

  • Do I quickly lose heart when trouble comes?
  • Do I succumb to fear when something terrifying comes near – (or I imagine something terrifying)?
  • Am I only able to encourage others when life is good and easy, because when the challenges of life hit hard, I reel from the blow and it knocks me down?
  • Does my bucket leak out trust as I forget about my confidence and hope in God?

How to plug the hole in my leaky bucket:

When storms whip through life, confidence and hope are not blown away, or beaten down, or snapped off like a tree or branch in the high winds.

No, instead their roots hold me with strength because I am rooted and ground in Christ.  

I need to remind myself that hurricane winds cannot uproot the established faith, confidence, and hope I have.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:7 NLT

Confidence and hope are strong roots in my life. My bucket is full and I will not lose heart.

3. Trying to Fix it Myself

I am a fixer-upper woman. I have a plan to solve most every problem, and most of the time those ideas work. I am aware that I tend to think with plans, processes, and solutions, so I have to deliberately not allow my heart to revert to self-reliance.

What I find is that self-reliance creates cracks in my bucket of “confidence in God.” Because things are working out and being solved my way, it is easy to leave out prayer and looking to God for his wisdom. Each time I do that another crinkle happens in the bottom of my bucket.

Drips of trusting God leak out.

If I am not careful, I will keep refilling my bucket with my own agenda, plans of actions, and proposals.

Your life will show what you really believe and trust the most.

Will it be your own ingenuity or God’s wisdom and leading?

How to plug the hole in my leaky bucket:

If anyone could boast about his own accomplishments, it was the apostle Paul. Yet he writes to the Philippian church: It’s true that I once relied on all that I had become. I had a reason to boast and impress people with my accomplishments—more than others—for my pedigree was impeccable. But now I put no confidence in human effort. I am one who boasts in what Jesus Christ has done, and not in what I can accomplish in my own strength. (Philippians 3:3-4)

  • I will start boasting about what Jesus has done in my life.
  • I will giving God all the credit – even for “my” brilliant ideas and plans.
  • I will intentionally move from self-reliance to grace-reliance.
  • I will stop trying to take over the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and others.
  • I will remember and acknowledge that my salvation begins and ends with God.

Your new life in the Anointed One began with the Holy Spirit giving you a new birth. Why then would you so foolishly turn from living in the Spirit by trying to finish by your own works? Galatians 3:3 TPT

Keep your bucket of "confidence in God" full! Continue to stay in a place of trust and grace-reliance. I am confident that God will continue to show his might power and faithfulness in your life.

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