Posted in Christian Living, Faith

The Bucket Theory

water into bucket

Working in the office earlier this week, I handed our office phone to one of our younger employees to have her call our store.  She dialed the main number and then called to me, handing me the phone as if the landline were not working.  I put the phone to my ear, heard a busy signal, and hung up the phone.  After getting the employee an alternate number to call, I assured her the phone was working and went back to my part of the office.

In the back of my mind, I realized what had just happened.  I rounded the corner and asked her, “Was that the first time you have ever heard a busy signal?”  She shyly admitted that it was.

With our advances in technology, I suppose this isn’t as crazy at it seems, that a young woman of 19 might never have heard a busy signal before.  Most people have cell phones or voice mail, so that if you call them and they are already on the phone, you are sent to another voice, not exposed to the braaat, braaat that we older folk recognize as the signal to call again later.

The experience of feeling how quickly the world around us is changing (this 19-year-old could literally be the age of my own child if I had one) reminded me of an analogy my father-in-law has often shared with me, especially when I am taking myself too seriously (which is way more often than I would like to admit)–an analogy I like to refer to as “the bucket theory.”

Think of a bucket with water in it. If you stick your hand in, you become part of the bucket of water. But, if you remove your hand, rather than leaving a hole where your hand had been, the water rushes in to fill your vacated space, rather like you had never been there at all.

In this fallen world we humans call reality, “life” works just like a hand being placed in and out of a bucket. If you think your workplace won’t be able to function without you there, think again. Somehow, life finds a way. People figure out how to fill in the gaps your absence creates. Even when we lose those closest to us, life must eventually move forward.

Most fortunately for us, God’s reality is completely opposite to the idea that each one of us is replaceable. For God, every drop of water matters. In God’s bucket, there are many holes between the molecules where hands once had been because every person matters to God:

“For the son of man has come to save that which was lost,” [Jesus tells his followers]. “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (Matthew 18:11-14 NASB)

Several times in the gospels, Christ compels us not to worry. God has our back. He takes care of the smallest sparrow. He clothes the grasses of the meadow in splendor. In her great song, I Am, Nicole Nordemann puts the joy God takes in each one of us this way:

When life had begun, I was woven and spun/ You let the angels dance around the throne. / And who can say when, but they’ll dance again/ when I am free and finally headed home. . . .

I love these lines because they remind me to feel the complete awe of God’s love for me.  Imagine the angels of heaven actually celebrating my beginning, the time when I came to earth to begin my journey of growth that will prepare me for the rewards of our true home, and then celebrating again when I actually am there.

Earlier last week, I was having a rather bad morning after a disappointing day before.  My Bible reading took me to Isaiah.  The verses I read about God’s power to save His people spoke to me about the power He has to help me with my own problems, as long as I wholly put my trust in Him:

What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. . . . Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.  (Isaiah 5:21/ 7:9b)

In Isaiah, besides God’s speaking through this prophet to assure the Israelites that there would come a time when the enemies who had oppressed the Jews would be defeated, there are also many promises about the coming of Christ, our ultimate source of salvation and personal relationship with God.

I was particularly struck by God’s admonition for us to:

Make the LORD of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.  (Isaiah 8:13)

In a time when I most needed it, I was reminded how powerful it is to really place my problems in God’s hands.  I was particularly struck by the recognition that even as God was speaking the words to Isaiah that were speaking to me as I read that morning, He knew that I would need those words on that day as well!

In other words, we are all so important to God, that He knows what we will do and what we will need, even though we have the freedom of choice.  And His power is so awesome, that He knew all the things there are to know about me even as He spoke the universe into existence.

With an omnipotent, loving God, there is no bucket theory.  He wants and needs every molecule in His unlimited bucket.  The angels dance for us!  We should put every molecule in us into praising Him and growing our relationship with Him.  As Jesus once said:

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  (Luke 19:40)

What if we truly treated each other like we want ourselves to be treated?  In a world where the water fills in the gaps left by a hand removed, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were still made to feel important for the role we had played in the bucket in the first place?  We could and should do that for each other.

But, most importantly, God does it for us everyday, and He already knows the days we will need Him most.

Don’t let the “bucket moments” of this life get you down.  It’s time to realize that when we put our faith in God to see us through our challenges, the angels dance!





I am a 40-something Texan with a feisty cat and a supportive husband of 20 years. With a Master's degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing, I have taught creative writing at Texas Tech, won awards for my writing and been blessed to be mentored by Horn Professor and poet Dr. Walt McDonald. I earn a living by helping my husband's family run a health food store, but my avocation is writing. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my triumphs and tragedies as I continue to work on figuring out what life is all about and on growing my ability to share my writing. May your own journey be a blessed one.

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