Have you ever carried a bucket of water up a hill? Has anyone ever explained to you that the reason your shoulder is getting twisted or your back is hurting might be that the weight you are carrying is a one-sided strain, that it wouldn’t bother you so much if it were divided in two? Two buckets filled with the same amount of water, carried in two hands, giving a balance of weight on each side, or carried on a yoke fitted across one’s shoulders, make it possible to carry a weight that would be impossible all on one side. When carrying water, carry balanced buckets.

Psalm 89:1 is a good song to sing privately to the Lord at the beginning of a day: “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” There are such varied mercies to sing about as we think of the kind thoughtfulness of the Lord in all he has given us. We are to make known his faithfulness to all generations—our parents’, grandparents’, children’s, and grandchildren’s generations as well as our own.

One of the central demonstrations of his faithfulness that we need to make known, and also to sing about privately, is the verbalized communication he gave us. His Word, the Bible, is preserved from generation to generation, so we don’t have to start from zero and discover truth for ourselves in some long trek to a secret cave or guru. “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments”: this verse, Psalm 119:37; helps us to recognize that our Creator made us to have the capacity to understand what he has given us in written form. The same psalm says in verse 105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Verse 148 speaks of staying awake at night to meditate upon his Word. That Word to us is meant to be clear, understandable, a help day by day in our thinking and meditating as well as in our conduct.

“But why should I thank God for the Bible,” some may complain, “when it mixes me up so? And I can’t understand how God can be God and sovereign and yet how I can have choice and not be a computer.”

We are finite creatures, created by an infinite, personal, perfect God who knows all things. Think about how hard it is to explain something you know to a small child who is getting frustrated because he or she cannot understand the explanation. God is perfect in his knowledge, wisdom, understanding. He is infinite, eternal, unlimited, unchangeable. We are finite, had a beginning not long ago, are limited, are very changeable in our emotions, attitudes, interests, and so on. We are made in God’s image, and so we can think and act and feel and communicate and love. We can make things, be creative in a variety of ways.

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Finite and spoiled by sin though we are, we still can think. We can read, listen, and come to an understanding. And God prepared a communication for us that would give us sufficient knowledge about the universe and himself, history and prophecy, how to come to him and how to receive strength day by day.

I think the idea of balanced buckets may help us to recognize something of what we should be doing as we read the Word day by day and ask for strength to do what it says. God has given a balance from beginning to end. We are not meant to carry the heavy bucket of “meaningful choice” or our “significance” while we tip out all the water in the other bucket. The Lord God gave us an equal teaching that he is sovereign, that he has chosen us before the foundation of the world.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods” (Josh. 24:15, 16).

“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight.… And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth” (Acts 22:12–14). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou earnest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer. 1:4, 5). “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:16, 17).

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How can it be? How can he choose us and call upon us to make a choice? How can we be known before we were born, be chosen for a task before we were born, and yet need to agonize over wanting the Lord’s will and being willing to put the Lord first?

The infinite God has given us truth in his Word. He has given us that which we can handle, can carry. He means for us to carry balanced buckets of truth. When we try to pour it all into one bucket, we are upsetting the balance. When we insist on doing this, we suffer and do not have the comfort we were meant to have.

God is sovereign, and we are not computers, not puppets, but persons with the ability to choose. Both things are true. We don’t have to be fatalists. We can be comfortable being people, and rejoice in not needing to be God. We can turn Satan away when he tries to make us insist on knowing all that God knows, and quote to him one of the last passages in the Bible: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18, 19).

Balanced buckets, with all the words intact, to be carried with comfort.


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