Fill the bottom before you fill the top!

by Andrew Jewell

Hungry Just to be Used

In my conversations with individuals over the years both as a Pastor and Counsellor I have come across a recurring a theme. An expression of frustration, confusion and even despair from believers simply wanting to be used by God for His purposes. I know when I first started preaching the need to preach and to teach and instruct would burn within me, almost to point of physical pain. The only way to release that Spiritual fire was to let it out, use it, feed it and free it lest it decided to feed on me.

It sounds strange and somewhat ominous but the reality is when something burns inside us similar to Paul’s thorn in his side we simply have to get it out.

The plight for many however is how do we do that? What if i don’t know what I’m supposed to do despite being overwhelmed with the sense that I need to do something, anything for God?

The answer is of course different for everyone, consistent with their particular calling and Spiritual gifts and talents. There is however in my experience one common denominator. A need to attend to our own Spiritual well-being first.

How can my well-being be important and it not be selfish before God?

Self-care in the Christian context can be a difficult thing for us to get our head around. We know in Christ we are called to live selfless lives, to serve God and others,  but how can we be selfless and still concerned with our own wellbeing?

The problem, as I see it is a matter of our perspective. We see ourselves under judgement of others, rather than through the eyes of a loving Father. For those of us lucky enough to be parents we find this conundrum perhaps a little easier to grasp. We want the best for our kids simply because we love them, and our love for them bursts within us even more when we see how fulfilled or happy they are when they perform acts of kindness and generosity. But first and foremost we want to know that they feel happy and loved and are protected both by us, and in the case of Christians by God.

As human beings then made in God’s image and saved through Grace, why should we expect Him to look on you and me any differently? He want’s the best for us firstly as His child so that we are better equipped to minister and love freely amongst others. This, the love we extend to others comes from a place that He has nurtured by His love and continues to nurture both in us and in them. This love we choose to share comes from a heart that has called out in despair and heard our Father say ‘it’ll be OK’. It comes from our broken hands grazed with cuts from each time we have fallen down and He has picked us up. It comes from a place where we have had no choice but to recieve it ourselves and say thank-you becuase we were powerless to do anything else.

Why then do we find it difficult to accept that He loves and has concern, blessings  and peace for us too, not just our neighbour, even when we feel like we’re travelling ok and don’t need it?

Such is the nature of Grace. Reception of Grace is about just that- reception. Not what we feel we must do in return. For in reality how do you repay such a debt as that that He performed on the Cross purely out of love.

The thing about broken vessels...

If we are not ‘patched up’ ourselves then what we have to give leaks out through the cracks.

As Christians the Holy Spirit works through us as broken vessels, but broken vessels that have been repaired in his Grace. If we are not ‘patched up’ ourselves then what we have to give leaks out through the cracks. If we don’t attend to ourselves, learn our limits, fill ourselves up with His Spirit and deal with our brokenness how can we sustain an overflowing of good works? As broken vessels if we do not accept and own God’s outpouring of Grace, we do not fully understand Grace and therefore cannot fully express it toward others.

We have to fill the bottom before we fill the top.

We have to fill the bottom before we fill the top. Just like in filling a glass with wine, we have to fill ourselves from the bottom first, it isn’t possible to effectively do it any other way. When a liquid is poured into anything it takes up any available recess first. Every nook, cranny, rebate and recess. I’m sure many of us remember frustrating times at the kitchen sink where you can’t get that last bit of whatever from the bottom of the glass because of an awkward (why did they design it this way!@#*) space. But despite not being able to easily clean it, somehow right at the beginning it found a way to occupy it.

Likewise when we are infilled with the Spirit, when God comes by His Grace to heal, bless and edify He finds every little hidden corner to occupy.

It’s OK to need those spaces attended to. It’s OK to celebrate the life that He gave you to be enjoyed. And it’s OK to take care of you and let Him take care of you in a blessed, life-fulfilling way.

Such is the nature of Grace.

‘…it will be to add Grace, not take it away.’

When the time is right God will call you to be used, often in the way you least expected in the beginning. But it will be to add Grace, not take it away. It will be to grow you as you have already grown much and so that you can grow others. It will be using a broken vessel that understands, searched and received many moments if Grace. But most of all it will be in response to a living Father who we trust and simply want to express – I love you.

wp-image-276537820© Andrew Jewell –




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