It wasn't the night I was expecting. The food was better than I thought it would be and the talk wasn't what I'd been anticipating. Ok, so I admit I was in a good mood after a dinner of meat and pasta followed by pavlova for dessert, but that wasn't the only reason I was attentive when he spoke.
From the very start he set the scene over 20 years ago when technology wasn't what it was today. I can only assume that the others in the audience started remembering what life was like in the 90s. He apologised for the quality of the pictures and video he was about to share with us. With the current capabilities of our mobile phones we can so easily forget how quickly the quality and affordability of taking good photos and videos has improved.
The quality of the people in his story was never in question though. He shared a day in his life decades earlier when he looked so much younger that I didn't instantly recognise him in the footage. He was a foreigner in another country and he was trying to connect with the local community. As a lady showed him through the local housing estate he heard her share of a need that had long gone unmet.
Much like a 'choose your own adventure' story, this tale could have taken a very different path if he was too focused on his own plans or agenda. Thankfully for everyone involved he was listening enough to hear her and set about helping that community where it most needed it.
The setting was a housing estate; the issue a pond that stank due to the council neglecting its upkeep for over a decade. The residents had wanted to fix it themselves but the council wouldn't permit it due to insurance concerns.
The solution this young foreigner discovered was using the local church's insurance to cover the volunteers, and in a single day a problem that had existed for so long was resolved. Decades later that pond is still a beautiful feature of that area.
As beautiful and moving as that story was as the whole community came together, both those that lived in the housing estate and those from more affluent homes nearby uniting as one community, there was something else he shared that impacted me the most.
It was through the connections he made during that project that a couple of the local women asked him one day how they could better help a friend they were supporting who had been assaulted. He shared with them the simple analogy of a teapot. That if you pour out the tea without refilling the pot it will soon become empty. He shared with them how he used God's love to fill his own teapot so that he could always share love with others.
As I sat listening to this simple analogy I recalled something else I'd recently heard about the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is full of life and it flows into the Jordan River, also a waterway that is alive. The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea and the Dead Sea has no outflow. The point I remember hearing was that as important as it is to have love flowing into us, it is also important to let it flow out of us or it can become stagnant and die like the water in the pond.
As another year draws to a close, I'd feel safe assuming some days this year you felt a little more empty than others. You don't have to wait until New Year's Eve to make a resolution for 2023 to not only keep the love coming in but also keep giving the love out. There are still days in 2022 where you can do that and start forming a healthy habit before 2023.
May your time spent with family and friends this holiday season be memorable for all the right reasons. If you don't have many, or any family or friends to share this time of year with, remember the power of a teapot life. Share some love with someone who might also be struggling. And don't forget to daily refill your own teapot.
Republished from Christian Today UK.