Wisdom Understands Buckets and Funnels
Nor’easters. They are fierce. For those of us living in New England these mean high winds—accompanied by hearty downpours of rain or hefty droppings of snow.
Today’s forecast calls for a foot of snow. Last week’s nor’easter was a rain event (where we live). That storm was unusually strong—an “every few decades” happening.
Two weeks ago we (for the second time) had our kitchen ceiling “repaired” from damage caused by a nor’easter a couple of years ago. Water had dripped through the ceiling and light fixtures, through the floor, and into the basement. This recent repair was done just in time for the past week’s storm to undo all that had recently been fixed. (Actually, the repair only consisted of sanding and painting the ceiling, and obviously did not deal with the root of the problem.) The damage from this storm redamaged our ceiling—causing it to look just like it did before it was “fixed.” The water once again leaked out of the ceiling through the floor and into the basement. I placed a bucket on the floor to catch the drips.
This unfortunate and true scenario reminds me of wisdom Wyndham has often dispensed as he (and we) have worked with individuals, marriages, and families. He has referred to this lesson as “buckets and funnels.”
In other words, the contents of the buckets that have been poured into us (by our families, our experiences, our hurts, our pains) will be funneled out from us to other receiving buckets (spouse, children, work associates, family members). When someone’s toxic bucket (full of harmful and sinful patterns) is funneled into ours we get hurt, and the contents of our own buckets can become rancid—filled with bitterness, envy, and all sorts of unresolved relationships and feelings. These, in turn, get funneled into others’ buckets. This keeps on happening—unless we stop the madness.
Wisdom knows we must each recognize what has been funneled into our bucket (both good and bad). We must then stop funneling and leaking harmful thoughts and practices into others’ buckets. We can’t just sand and paint over our buckets. We must fix what’s inside, find the root of the bad, and do repair work. We can’t control what has been poured into our bucket, but we can control what is funneled out.
Toxic becomes pure only through the grace and forgiveness found in Jesus, and the power of his Spirit to change our lives. He allows us to recognize the sludge and empty it from our buckets. Only then can we refill our bucket with the fruits of God’s Spirit, and experience his healing forgiveness. Then, when these purified and refilled buckets are funneled all kinds of good results—and many lives are blessed.
How often I’ve listened as Wyndham has patiently helped men and women discover what has (unintentionally) been filling their buckets and then spilling out and hurting others. He has helped them identify the poisonous contents, dump them out, and by God’s power replace them with what is good, true, and right. Then, they can pass on what is good and true and right.
The storms will continue to come. The water that goes through our roof and into our ceiling will come out, just as what goes into our bucket will funnel out. We can’t just sand and paint over problems and expect our lives to be fixed. They must be repaired and changed from the inside out. The only repair comes through Jesus and his words. He can empty our trash and fill our buckets with his treasures.
Today a big storm is coming. I will need to catch any leaks with a bucket until I discover the real problem. Meanwhile, check your bucket. The contents will be funneled into others.
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;
44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45 (NRSV)
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)