Suddenly, I realized that I was exhausted. I was exhausted and could not take another step. My shoulders, arms, back and even my hands ached. So, in a heap, I collapsed between the two buckets I had been carrying. I could not go on. This was as far as I was going to make it. Furthermore, though my physical exhaustion was much easier to recognize and identify, I was emotionally spent, as well.
So, at last I began to look around me. As if for the first time, I noticed that the buckets had something in them. Oh, I knew they were full, but I had not given any thought as to what they held. So, from the bucket on my right, I removed a piece of rubble – broken concrete which had no value. It was about the size of a good cantaloupe and weighed a few pounds.
“Why am I carrying this thing around? It’s not even mine; it belongs to someone else. How did it get into my bucket?” Well, it had been placed in my bucket, so without thinking about it, I carried it. I had been carrying it faithfully… No. No, I had been carrying it blindly for at least 6 months now. But, it did not belong to me, so I threw it away.
That felt good.
So, I reached back into the bucket and came up with another piece of rubble. This one didn’t belong to me either, but I had stolen this one. I felt responsible for this one, so I put it into my own bucket and had carried it ever since. But, it did not belong to me, so I threw it away.
That felt good, too.
Over and again I reached into that bucket that was filled with rubble which did not belong to me. And, one piece at a time, I threw it all away. I was bewildered that anyone could be dumb enough to carry a bucket like that. But I had. When I reached the bottom of the bucket, I didn’t need it anymore, because I had nothing to carry in it. So, I threw it away, too. Good? It felt great! It was downright liberating.
So, enthusiastically, I turned to the other bucket and removed yet another piece of rubble. Uh oh, oh no, this one did belong to me. I did this one and it was my responsibility. I turned to God, with eyes downcast, “Lord, I did this. It was nothing but my own selfish pride and I was wrong. Will You please forgive me?”
You know what? He did forgive me. Then, He said, “What else is there in that bucket you’ve been carrying?”
So, I reached back into the bucket and came up with another piece of rubble. Ouch! This one not only belonged to me, but it had been worn smooth from frequent use. I turned to God, with eyes downcast, “Lord, I did this, too. It was nothing but my own selfish pride and I was wrong. Will You please forgive me?”
You know what? He did forgive me. Then, once again, He said, “What else is there in that bucket?”
Over and again I reached into that bucket that was filled with my own rubble. And, one by one, I brought them to my heavenly Father. I confessed each and every one to Him, and I asked Him if there was any way that He could forgive me for yet another item on my list of sins that seemed to grow by the moment. This was excruciating. It was humiliating. But, He did forgive me – one item at a time. Then, in turn, I threw them all away. I was bewildered that anyone could be dumb enough to carry a bucket like that for so long. But I had.
When I reached the bottom of the bucket, I didn’t need it anymore either, because I had nothing left to carry in it. So, I threw it away, too. Good? No, not good. It felt glorious!
And, there I sat empty-handed, exhausted but refreshed and unhindered by the sins that had so easily entangled me for so long. God had permitted me to dump them out and He took them away. I was free - free to take Him by the hand, and He helped me to my feet. My legs were still a bit wobbly, but I could lean on Him for stability.
When, I finally looked to see where I was, I turned around to discover what should have been no surprise. That long, arduous journey which took me in so many circles, had, at long last, taken me right back to the cross.
And, at that moment, it did not enter my mind that
He had taken away the sins of the world.
He had taken away the sins of the world.
All that I could think was that He had taken away mine.