“Remember that a pail with a pinhole loses as much as a pail pushed right over.” Ann Voskamp

I love the “ah ha” moments with God. You know the ones where your eyes are opened and your heart hears. Especially the ones that take you right up on the mountaintop with a song of joy on your lips. And you know, just know that you are in sync, if even for just that moment.

The ones in the valley not so much. They tend to hurt. Squeeze just a bit. Require some self examination. Some discipline. A lot of confession. Humility. Mercy. Grace. Forgiveness.

This morning was one of those mornings. The Lord didn’t give me a mountaintop moment, but one deep down in the valley. He had some words for me and I needed to hush up and listen.

“When I am the Voice that you make time to listen to, your confidence can be real.” Crystal Hurst

I had not realized until that very moment, I had been carrying a pail with a pinhole. A tiny a hole. And it was leaking. Leaking faith. Trust. Grace. Compassion.

A while back, when we changed church homes, I signed up to be on the intercessory prayer team. I’m sensitive to pray when I catch horrific news stories, or we pass an accident on the road, or when I see the broken and the hurting.

Please hear me, I’m not telling you this for a pat on the back. No. I’m telling you this because, as my “leaky pail” slowly emptied, I had failed. Miserably.

These past weeks I have had a heavy heart. Dealing with some personal issues. My slow leaking pail was quickly filling up. Filling up with self indulgence. Self pity. Control. My need for order and perfection. My need to be recognized. Patted on the back.

Filling up with nasty, ugly sludge.

After some tidying up, my pail patched, a lot of confession, forgiveness, a whole heaping amount of grace and mercy, I pulled out my list.

The prayer list I picked up yesterday at the mid-day Senior Bible Study(my “happy place”…smile).

As I reflected over it, I remembered the Associate Pastor directly asking a precious lady two rows back from me how we could pray for her. She paused a minute, and thoughtfully answered with these words, “independence, pray that I will be able to keep my independence”.

Chills. Zinged with an imaginary lightening strike. I turned around and looked her in the eyes. Her heart and her vulnerability laid bare for all to see.

And I got it. I. Got. It.

The thing I struggle with the most, miss the most, is my independence. Being able to get in the car, crank up some praise music or a Beth Moore cd, and go where I want to when I want to. Walk around Target. Meet my friends at Starbucks. Ride with the windows down.

Though a decade or two, maybe even three, separated us,  we had something in common. Having lost a good bit of my own independence, my heart was tendered for her need to keep hers.

But did I take the time yesterday to speak with her? Hold her hand? Pray with her? Share my story?

No. I was too focused on my own “leaky pail”. My own issues. Self absorbed with what I was missing in my own life to speak into hers.

I pray that God will give me an opportunity to speak with this woman. Another chance to minister to her. A chance to help her carry her load. To let her know she’s not alone in her fears. Put a smile on her precious face.

In the meantime, I will try to be more sensitive to others needs and less self indulgent of my own. Praying that He will become greater and greater as I become less and less.

Carrying my “patched up pail” and filling it with things that are good. Things that are of Him. Trying not to dump it out or spring a leak.

Knowing in my human skin, I will mess up again. Knowing The One that loves me will patch it up again.

Heart ready, with ears that hear Him.

Eyes open, not missing an opportunity to reach out to someone else.

 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27 NLT

“Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32 NLT

Graced by God

Tammy Mashburn