Monday, August 16, 2010

Spilling and Overflowing

I've loved rock and roll for a long time. I grew up on Amy Grant and choral music, but I fell in love with rock and roll when my cool older brother took a big liking to it. In college I discovered a band called mewithoutYou that changed how I thought about music. The first time I saw them play I was standing at a music festival in Illinois in 90 degree heat (plus humidity), in a crowded tent. They took the stage in sweaters and peacoats, posturing as maritime men. They threw themselves around on stage and I didn't hear much besides noise. I blew them off. A little while later, I tried again and found myself a fan. Their music is not for everyone, but the lyrics are self-effacing, honest, and seeking. They ask good questions. They tell good stories. I have often been challenged by their words. They make me think.

And on one occasion, I thought about one particular line from a song. In a wordy, jumbled song where the writer compares himself to an animal on the prowl, comes the line: "a glass can only spill what it contains" and it sticks in my head.

I half-heartedly explained
but gave up peacefully ashamed
a glass can only spill what it contains

Because eventually we will spill. A glass full of liquid spills two ways - there's too much of the contents, and it overflows, or it gets knocked over. Either we are so full of something that it eventually tumbles out of our mouths or flows out in our actions. It wiggles its way into our minds, into our relationships, into our very beings. What we possess inside will somehow find its way out.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." - Colossians 2:6-7

A cup can spill because it overflows. It has so much that it just can't contain it anymore. You know how else the liquid spills? It gets knocked over. An accident, sudden movement, change, push, shove, grief, heartbreak, and on and on. What tumbles out when this happens? What do we contain that, when knocked over, spills everywhere? What are our reactions, our words, our actions? What do they reflect?

What are we full of that we will eventually spill? A glass of water cannot spill orange juice, and likewise we cannot spill the Word of God if we are not continuously putting it into our lives.

A glass can only spill what it contains