There is a story about a university professor who came to a Zen master to ask him about Zen. Nan-in, the Zen master, served him tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “It is over-full. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I teach you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
How many times do we fill our lives with things and leave no room for God’s thoughts to fill our hearts? I have been guilty of filling my cup with too many things for the past two weeks; having an 8 yr old girl placed in our foster home has been a challenge. It’s difficult to focus on the bigger picture when you are in the midst of daily struggles. It’s in those times, that we must step back and hear God’s voice. But first, we need to empty our cups in order for Him to fill them with His thoughts. Following is an exerciseI hope helps you empty your cup from the daily grind of life and allow you to hear God’s voice*. Here’s the worksheet: (The Empty TeaCup)
- With a journal in hand, take a minimum of at least 30 minutes for some quiet time.
- Imagine your life as a cup, overflowing with opinions, ideas, perceptions, and all the activities in your life. Write all the distractions you can think of in and around the cup below.
- Present these distractions to the Lord. Pray that he will empty your cup and fill it with his view of life – of what’s important to Him. Write down any thoughts on your journal.
Rest in His Word: Psalms 16:5
“Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.” (NIV)
- Thank God for your cup (your life) today.
- Make sure to be intentional about living out some of the thoughts God gave you today.
- When the unhelpful thoughts creep up again, remind yourself of what’s important to God.
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*Inspired by Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit, Henri Nouwen
Story taken from: 101 Zen Stories, a 1919 compilation of Zen koans from the Meiji era (1868-1912) in Japan.