If Life is a Cup

Take a cup, large or little, and look inside.

Let’s have a ponder.
What if life is a cup?

If life is a cup then I wonder what condition our cups are in. 
If life is a cup then I wonder what our cups contain
If life is a cup then I wonder how much we pour into others.

See, a cup is created to hold something.
Our lives are created to hold this internal substance.
Cups were created for a specific purpose, they have a certain capacity. 
You want to fill the cup to the brim, fill it so it overflows.

 If life is a cup, and you’re looking inside yours now, I wonder what substance you hold?
Are you full or empty? Are you clean or dirty? Are you together or broken?
Are you capable of sharing what your life contains? Are you prepared to pour?

If life is a cup, there are two challenges: 
1. How do I clean my cup?
2. How do I fill my cup?

You might wonder why cleaning (1) comes before filling (2). See, I question our comprehension of cleaning. In a culture that is sensitive to dirt in the sense that we sanitise, sanitise, sanitise, I wonder whether we truly know how to discern dirty from clean.

Are we deceived by the clean coatings that hide dirty depths?

See, sanitisation suggests a surface-based cleanse. Life is messy, so we try to manage by sanitising situations and worse: sanitising ourselves. Yet, in doing so, we lose the strength to resist dirt. We reject the idea of ourselves as dirty and messy and opt for a disguise, making ourselves sanitised, surface-based masterpieces. Meanwhile, inside this lie of a life, the dirt piles. The dirt that ultimately leads to disease, or worse, death (of the soul kind).

So how about an alternative, that doesn’t sterilise our souls, but sanctifies. To sanctify (v.) is to set apart, to declare holy.

A soul in a state of sterilisation is deprived to the point of death.
A soul in a state of sanctification will thrive and produce life.

If our cleanse is not soul-deep, it is not complete. Our cups will deplete, and with no fulfilling substance, our cups will crack. If our cleanse is not soul-deep, there is no seal of care. Without care our condition will wear, and our condition determines our capacity to contain life, and to produce and pour a fulfilling substance.

Let’s consider china cups. See, there are a lot of lives that look like china cups. Extravagant. Full of external quality. I see these lives and I see the disease of perfection. I see these lives and I see how we wear masks of misperceptions.

Cups are cups.
Lives are lives.
Same same.
No one pattern.
No one perfect.

I see these lives and then I look at mine.
I see china cups then look at my cracks.
I see clean cups then look at my dirt.
I see whole cups then look at my hole-y cup.

There is this cycle of comparison, and there is criticism.
We forget all cups share the same sense of shame.
We forget all lives are broken and stained.

” Surely there is nothing my cup contains that is of quality”, we say as we sell our souls to sanitisation and sterilisation.

See here.
The trap

There are too many of us living china-cup lives and not enough of us confessing our cracked-cup lives. 

There is this lie that the lives we lead are about quality alone and not quantity also. What is quality? What is quantity? If we judge quality by the china cup, we elevate the external appearance of our lives. We then try to attain quality by making our cups masterpieces. In doing so, we forget why cups exist in the first place. What was their specific purpose? What is their certain capacity? Cups are created to hold something. What a cup holds, it holds inside.

If, then, we judge quality by the interior, there comes a new means of measuring quality: quantity. When measuring our worth we must consider the internal substance we contain, for this holds greater weight. Is there quality there? Is there a quantity there? If there is quality and quantity, then we are more likely to be willing to share. To share our lives. To let our cups flow free. But – How to reach this point of hope, where the soul is whole? How to confess our hole-y cups and come to be holy cups?

Let’s look at how we can secure our cups condition. If cleaning (1) is to be soul-deep, a new substance must come to cover past contents.


Here comes the substance:

See, Jesus isn’t concerned for what our lives are seen to be, for he knows the substance within speaks to the state of our cups.

In Matthew 23:25-6 Jesus, addressing the Pharisees and scribes, says “You clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and plate, that the outside also may be clean.”

Jesus isn’t afraid to offend. He wants all cups to be filled until they are overflowing, and he knows our tendency to focus on the sanitised, sterilised, surface-based condition of our cup.

Jesus cares about the cracks in our cup, not the china cup lives we lead.

When we try to live off what we already contain, we are left deprived and empty. We seek to expand our abilities and increase our own capacity. We forget we are limited, incapable of drawing substance from nothing. We are not capable of carrying and cleaning our own cups.

Jesus knows we see with our eyes and not our souls. Thus, he seeks to show us the soul-based substance we all hold. He calls us to consider our cups differently. To question the inner substance of our hearts, and whether there are holes we have inside that might be leaking. He already knows the answer to the question of our hearts, that we are all breaking. Thus, there needs to be a solution.

We need a Saviour.
To restore our cracked condition.
To make beautiful the broken.
To replace the old with new.


One who: 
Bore our cup of suffering.
Drunk our dirty contents.
Drains death.
Pours life.

A complete cleanse. A great exchange.
A cup of suffering for a cup of sanctification.

In Matthew 26:39-42 we witness the beginning of this beautiful exchange as Jesus lifts up our cups to the Father in prayer. He commits to the Father’s will. He sets into place a new plate, a clean slate. The cup of sanctification. The soul-based solution being holy cups, not hole-y cups.

In John 9:37-39 Jesus then invites the thirsty to come and drink to drink a new cup with new substance: himself. He invites us to trust him to care for our cups. To allow him to take our lives, and to transform us: from hole-y to holy. He doesn’t promise a perfect cup, a perfect life. He promises to fill us.

Why? He cares. Jesus’ cares because the Father cares. Jesus’ commitment to this care, the Father’s will, was to sacrifice himself. In this sacrifice, the great exchange, our cups contents are replaced with a fulfilling substance: living water. We must come to him daily to fill our cups, for we cannot fill it ourselves. We must draw near to him, his well. The well of life. Where we exchange our sin for his saving grace. Where we exchange our dirty pasts for his eternal hope and future for us.

My prayer is that we may have hearts that thirst for the Lord, turning to him for fulfilment, allowing him to give substance to our lives, and to thrive in and through his sanctifying sacrifice and soul-based solution to our brokenness.

When we surrender our own cup of suffering we are strengthened and sustained by our Saviour.
The seal of salvation heals the cups holes with the promise of a day where there will be no more suffering.

“Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me. 
Come wake me from my sleep. 
Flow through the caverns of my soul. Pour on me to overflow. To overflow.”
{Jeremy Riddle, Fall Afresh}

Respond from the Heart