Top 10 and even top 200 itemized lists of fun-filled activities and freeing ways to spend meaningful time together with our child(ren) are popping up in an effort to generate laughter, a sense of wonder, adventure and best of all, memories in the unstructured season of summer under its sunny, iconic umbrella.
When I read though the lists of ideas they sound tranquil. Breezy. So Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. Oh summer, please come so we can wear flip flops 24/7, pick blueberries and stay up late without a school schedule hovering overhead.
I have my list, of course. We all do, right? Granted, nobody else might care about taking their kids to see a Red Sox game, drawing on the driveway with chubby chalk sticks or reading picture books aloud on the sofa even though your kids might be elementary age but that’s okay. We all have those things we will do regardless of what our kids think.
Until of course, something gets in its way.
I’m more than capable of emptying my kids’ emotional buckets. At times, resenting the bucket. Even taking the gift of the bucket for granted.
At that time, it’s time for a humility check.
A God check.
A trip out to the pastures to get my bucket in smoother shape.
Which, when am convicted to my core, takes place on my knees. Prayer is there where I am reminded of all the things that I don’t want on my bucket list nor in my children’s internal emotional bucket that I can be guilty of pouring in. It’s time to confess it all and bring my muck to the feet of the One who can clean it up so that I can have a clean bucket.
What does God have to do with buckets and being filled?
He the mighty bucket filler. He is Peaceful. Gentle. Loving. Kind. Joyful. Good. Faithful. (Gal 5:22). He fills me each day with the opportunity to develop these attributes so I can have just a smidgeon, a spec, of Christlike character. How can I not turn around and fill my children’s bucket with the same attributes and attitude Jesus has shown me?
Who am I to empty out what Jesus has filled?
That filling began at the cross, when Jesus emptied Himself until there was nothing but a submissive spirit left in His beaten, broken, weakened body. That submission, even though He had asked “…take this cup from me,” (Luke 22:42), led Him to the unthinkable. The horrific. The no-turning-back from what we each would have been desperate to flee and escape from as fast as our legs would move. Yet, as ugly as Jesus’ temporary death was and the events leading up to his death, is as beautiful and permanent as His eternal authority and the heavenly home He has established for each of us who accept His gift of salvation, who believe he died and rose again, defeating death.
Jesus’ obedience to do His Father’s will in going to the cross so that I and the world could have freedom from the condemnation we deserve from our own sin, and having and being an imperfect person day after day, is a fill I don’t think I will ever truly comprehend, and admittedly, on some days treat too casually. I have a life free of eternal judgment and consequence because of the price Jesus paid on my behalf. I am not going where I should. I am not getting what I deserve, and that’s a fill right there to be thankful about. A life merciful and graciously forgiven is another fill we experience when we believe that God sent his Son Jesus to redeem us with His blood, shed in our place, and set us apart for Himself to live a life empowered by His righteousness instead of my old icky nature.
Which can still rear its head but He helps me keep things in check. Daily.
He convicts me. Corrects me gently. Reminds me to be in His word. Strengthens me.
So this summer, as I try and hit those items on my bucket list (and perhaps you as well), may I/we remember and never forget, the true bucket filler of all. With Jesus as our guide, we can be strong and loving fillers to our children who need a fun bucket list for sure, but even more so, who need strong bucket fillers.
My girls have Jesus, the ultimate bucket filler, and God willing, a mom who can pour into them with Him as her guide.
His bucket fills mine.
All summer and always.