The Empty Jar

There once was a man and woman, husband and wife. They lived an average, ordinary, everyday life. They had an average, ordinary, everyday marriage. After many years they had settled into a comfortable, normal routine.

One Monday night during supper, the woman noticed that her husband seemed a little down. That had been happening more frequently lately, and she was becoming concerned. When she asked him if everything was alright, the husband got up from the dinner table and went into the kitchen. After rummaging around in the cabinets for a minute, he came back holding a glass jar. He set it on the table next to his wife's plate.

"This is how I feel," he said, pointing at the empty jar. "I used to be filled, even overflowing. But after a while we settled into life and now I feel empty like this jar."

Her heart was broken. In an effort to create a home, complete all the tasks of the day and keep life in order, she had been drawn her away from her love. She was absolutely crushed.

The woman didn't say a her husband. She closed her tear-filled eyes and bowed her head in prayer.

"Lord, please forgive me for not adding things to my husband's jar. I don't want him to be empty anymore. Please show me how I can start filling up his jar again."

That night in her devotion time, that empty glass jar was still vivid in her mind. She prayed again for the Lord to show her how to fill her husband's jar. Her eyes landed on one particular verse in Isaiah, which she read with great delight.

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. Isaiah 58:11

God had already blessed her exceeding abundantly above all she could ask or think, but now she needed to let some of that blessing spill into her husband's jar. With the Lord's guidance, she would probably see several opportunities each day to replace its emptiness with joy.

So on Tuesday she added a good morning kiss on his way out the door.

On Wednesday she added some hand-holding while they walked into the prayer meeting.

On Thursday she added a home-cooked breakfast before he left for work.

On Friday she added a love note in his briefcase.

On Saturday she added a whole day of letting him do whatever he wanted without nagging him with a honey-do list.

There was a joy in her husband's face that she hadn't seen in ages. He was smiling more, being more considerate, laughing with her and being more affectionate. Filling up her husband's jar was turning into the joy and challenge of the day, just to see how happy they could be together.

Soon she began looking at the rest of her family like an empty jar. Their children, their parents, their nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins...they all had jars that needed some attention. Her joy was so full that she was putting something in everybody's jars.

She went to church and saw all of her brothers and sisters in Christ as empty jars. She realized she hadn't been serving them as she should have been, so she started looking for ways to fill their jars, too. A hand-written note went a long way, as did help with the cooking for the monthly fellowship. The preaching suddenly became more meaningful, the music more moving and the prayers more precious.

And then the woman looked around her at the grocery store, the pharmacy, the bank. Here were all of these empty jars in front of her that she had never noticed. A little thing like a smile meant more than she had realized. Politeness and kindness to a complete stranger filled a jar like nothing else could. And it gave her the opportunity to witness and explain how God had given her the joy to begin with.

She suddenly became very aware that the more she tried to fill other people's jars, the more joy welled up in her own. The more she gave, the more God gave her to give. It was a startling revelation, but it gave her the motivation to see who else she could fill up with God's love.

Then one day the woman returned home to find that glass jar on the dining room table again. This time it wasn't empty and lonely, but overflowing with the most beautiful wild flowers she had ever seen. The card beside it had just two words written on it: Thank You. Her husband had even drawn a heart around them, making her smile. Right then and there she realized her God-given purpose in life:

To attack the emptiness of the world with God's love and joy, one jar at a time.


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