Last fall I was asked to sit on a panel of several women for a women’s event at church. The topic of discussion was “How to fill yourself up in order to pour out.” One of the questions we were given ahead of time was to choose an area of life–physical, mental, social, spiritual, or emotional–and talk about what we do to fill up in that area.
Thinking through the answer to this, and other questions, had me searching for just the right response. It had been a few years since I had spoken to a group of women, and I felt the responsibility of being honest with them about myself–shortcomings included– but also providing them with something to encourage, inspire, or at least provide direction as they sought to fill up their souls.
I struggle daily with knowing how to meet the needs of everyone in my life. I feel the constant balancing act of knowing how to discern the difference between needs and wants, and in any circumstance, someone will inevitably sacrifice something because there just isn’t enough time or human ability to go around. We all have areas of our lives where we’re serving, giving, ministering and often being inconvenienced or interrupted in order to meet the needs of others. It can be draining to feel like you’re constantly pouring yourself out to those around you.
We know that sacrifice is necessary, loving others is a command, and we are to think of others before ourselves. But what about me? When do I get to pour into myself so that I have something to give?
There are many ways you can fill up your soul, and I look forward to diving into some of these in the weeks to come, but at the root there is one thing that your soul needs more than anything else: you must abide in Christ.
Abiding in Christ can seem vague, but also overwhelming, sometimes feeling impossible. We don’t want to give ourselves a list of rules to follow, “Do this in order to abide”; that feels like too much law and not enough grace. We aren’t sure where to begin so we often don’t do anything. You want to grow closer to the Lord but you feel like you’re never consistently moving in that direction. You want to live this life in Christ but you can’t seem to find the way to do that on a daily basis. By avoiding a striving kind of faith, you end up with a knowledgeable faith but not a moment-by-moment experiential one.
Jesus’ disciples had the great privilege of experiencing Jesus on a daily, moment-by-moment basis. With a simple, “Come, follow me,” Jesus extended the invitation for an intimate relationship, and they accepted. They spent time with him, listened to his words, watched the ways that he healed, loved and served others. Through the process of close fellowship with Jesus, they grew to know, believe, love, and depend upon him. The disciples were transformed as they walked closely with the Lord.
We have a similar access to Jesus and yet how often we miss the opportunity. We want deeper intimacy with the Lord, so we read the newest Christian book, a trending article, or listen to a great podcast or sermon. We’re quick to grab onto the words of someone who says something inspiring, even pointing us to the truths about God. But when the ideas we learn don’t carry us along as we had hoped, or the person who said it fails us in some way, our souls are left floundering, waiting for the next great thing.
The disciples grew in their belief of Jesus as they spent time with him. We will grow in our belief, understand the character of God, know how to follow him, and come to love him more deeply when we engage our hearts and minds with the things of the Lord. We don’t have the privilege of having Jesus’ physical presence with us as the disciples did. But God has given us his Word and his Spirit, the two means by which we come to know and love him, and grow in daily dependence upon him. We experience Jesus in a similar way to the disciples as we abide in him through his Word.
In order to know God, grow in our belief and love for him, and know how to live out our faith, we must read and study the Bible.
So, back to the question I was posed on the panel a few months ago, what is one way that you fill yourself up spiritually? I read and study my Bible on a daily basis. Not because I’m holy or super-spiritual but because I desperately need the truth of God’s Word to:
Teach me about God and how I should live in light of who he is.
Renew my mind.
Direct my thoughts.
Guide my steps.
Empower me to fight against the attacks of the Enemy.
A life of pouring out to our family and to those outside of our homes must begin with tending our souls in such a way that we grow to be desperate for Jesus and cling to him as we face every issue of life. This is the abiding life and it can’t happen apart from a growing understanding of the Word of God. Because it’s in the Word of God that we come to know Jesus, the one in whom we are to abide.
This is part of a series, Made to Pour: Tending to Your Soul
In Deuteronomy 4:9 the Lord told the people to”keep your soul diligently…” My goal in anything I write is to help you do just that. Each post is aimed to point your soul to the Lord in every issue of life, abiding in Jesus and experiencing the abundant life that comes through knowing and loving him.
How do you do this? I believe it begins with a growing understanding of the Bible.
Does reading your Bible feel too much like another item to check off your list? I used to feel that way too and I struggled with guilt when I would miss a day or two of reading my Bible. Over the years, the guilt has gone away, the try-harder mentality has shifted, and I’ve come to love reading and studying my Bible. It didn’t happen overnight. There wasn’t a moment when suddenly Bible study was glorious. The love for studying God’s Word came as I opened my Bible on a daily basis, studied the truths about God, prayed for my heart to be opened, and allowed the Spirit to use the Truth to transform my heart. It took discipline and training, but over time that discipline has turned into great delight.
If you struggle to have consistent and meaningful Bible reading and study, I’ve created a resource for you: 5 Keys to Consistent & Meaningful Bible Study. Simply enter your email address and you’ll receive a copy in your inbox. You’ll also be signed up to receive a weekly email with new blog posts and a copy of the monthly newsletter.