“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” ~ Psalm 23:5

Last week while I was in Detroit on a preaching engagement, the host pastor, Dr. Wilma Johnson, invited me and another minister to have lunch with her at the City Club, an exclusive eating establishment. The three us requested hot tea with our meals. The tea selections were offered as well as the containers filled with hot water, and the accompanying signature mugs.

The host pastor requested a paper cup be brought for her to use instead of the mug. After some small talk, I asked the pastor why she ordered the paper cup. She replied that she is a PURE tea drinker, and she uses a special cup at home from which to drink her tea. She further explained that she refrained from drinking from mugs offered by restaurants and other places because invariably, the same cups that were used for tea were also used for coffee and that she hated the taste of coffee mixed with her tea.

Ironically, the other minister, Rev. Connie Jackson, had read (and thoroughly digested) a book called The Cup of Our Life by Sister Joyce Rupp, OSM (Order of Servants of Mary), published in 1997.  In that book, Sister Joyce presented the single, everyday object of the coffee cup as a symbol of life that could help transform our everyday lives from the ordinary to extraordinary so we could become Christ-centered containers for prayer and meditation.  Sister Joyce and Rev. Jackson (better known as “Rev. CJ”) suggested that it is not unusual that the cups and mugs we use for our personal use are reflective of each of our lives.  Cups come in all shapes, sizes, and conditions. People likewise exist physically, emotionally, and spiritually in all kinds of conditions. Cups are clean and whole right after they are presented from the manufacturer, just like humans. Over time cups upon exposure to the elements, physical use and abuse change in many ways. Likewise, human lives change in many ways; sometimes positively and sometimes negatively.

For example, the residue left in many cups after continual use can and usually does influence the taste from the cup, and so do people likewise have residue in their cups of life that influence their behavior and actions. Residue of abuse, neglect, and hatred affect all lives, and until that residue is emptied, cleaned up, and cleaned out, life for those persons is tainted. Broken cups in one’s possession can mean a broken life. Cluttered cups suggest cluttered lives. Chipped cups, half-filled cups, and over-flowing cups are suggestive of similar lives.

Our cups of life experience emptiness, fullness, brokenness, flaws, and blessings. It is important, satisfying, uplifting and encouraging to examine our cups daily. Just as many people drink from their favorite cup regularly and daily, people of God need to pray and meditate daily, which will facilitate the emptying of bad elements and influences, and the filling of good things  like joy, love, forgiveness, patience and peace.

Richard (Dick) Blanchard’s song Fill My Cup, Lord was published in 1964 and was an immediate hit, becoming the Number One gospel song in America for about 20 years, after the heyday of How Great Thou Art. The words to the powerful refrain are “Fill my cup, Lord. I lift it up, Lord. Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me ’til I want no more; Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!”

So, our prayer is … “Lord, empty me of those negative things that affect me internally and externally, and fill my cup with YOU! Amen! “

Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com