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Of Water and Sacrifice

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Words by Audrey Ann Masur // Images by Annetta Bosakova

It is the hope of springtime that gets to us—the hope of life. The trees, once masked with death, standing stiff and naked, are now budding with new leaves. Flowers peek through the ground, unfolding and unfurling. The snow has melted, the rain keeps coming, and everything is a beautiful, albeit sloshy, mess.

Growing up, one of the morning rituals for my mom was to go outside and water her flowers. She had some amazing flower beds and taught me that every home needs some blooms growing around it, even if it is just a few. Now that I have my own place, I have planted a few flowers (nothing like my mom's) and enjoy the pop of color and life they bring. We have a large, green watering pot, but many times I simply use an empty Folger's coffee container to water the flowers. The container sits in the same spot, under the spout for our dog Sue, and I water the flowers and fill it up again for her.

It is an old, ordinary, plastic container, and it is certainly nothing at which to look. On its own, it is worth diddly-squat. But that does not matter, because it holds the elixir of life: water. What matters is not the carrier, but what is carried. What matters is not the vessel, but what is brought. And so it is with us: it is what is poured out that matters.

Gleaning from preacher Ugo Bassi’s sermon, poet Harriet Eleanor Hamilton-King, in “The Disciples,” penned these words:

Measure thy life by loss instead of gain;
Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth;
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice. (114–116)
What is this water of life to be poured forth? It is the love of Christ, love that we cannot earn or buy, only freely accept and then offer to others by giving our lives (1 Peter 4:10). We don't have to thirst, and we don't have to be empty (even if there are days we feel we are). The Water of Life comes from a well that will never run dry. He promised: "But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
And yet there are days I sit at my proverbial well, doing the mundane, daily tasks and remembering the wretch I am, avoiding others because I don't want them to know the truth about me, or see the despair in my eyes. Just smile and look put together. Maybe they won't see. You know the drill: put on some lip gloss, grab the cake with the icing ruined by the plastic wrap, and attempt to look perky and studious at Bible study.
But Jesus, he already knows, and he always sees. He comes and sits with me, like he did with the Samaritan woman in John chapter four. I read his Word and I am reminded that it is nothing I can conjure up. There is no self-help book, no exercise class, no inspirational video that will bring me hope, bring me life. He is life and it is only by the power and faithfulness of who he is, of what he did on the cross, that I may have true hope and peace. I have these things because Christ is, and I am his.

In a world where most are trying to be noticed, to be branded, may we be vessels. "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work" (2 Tim. 2:21). Whether or not our outfits and children's parties are Pinterest-worthy, or our followers on Facebook many, may we be vessels. Even if our photos show extra pounds or dark bags from a sleepless night, may we be vessels, however plain, out of which his marvelous light and life may flow: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor. 4:17).

I stumble and stutter, have scars on my face and in my heart, but my ability to truly offer life and love to others solely depends on Jesus. And he is willing to be poured out of me. He was willing to be clothed in the humility of a young woman's womb, the cross of Calvary, and my simple pot of clay. When he pours out of me, I will never run dry; I will never be empty. He brings life, and it is abundant. Whether I am making dinner for my sweet husband, caring for the children at church, or listening to my neighbor's fears of the future, may what I pour out be Christ in me. And may others taste his goodness and thirst for him, so that they may thirst no more.