The Deep Well with Erin Davis Podcast

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Episode 3: The Two Buckets

Erin Davis: Correct me if I wrong, Kesha, but you're a city girl.

Kesha Griffin: All the way! City, city, city.

Erin: And I'm a country girl. I actually had to go feed my chickens before we recorded this episode of The Deep Well. Maybe that's why I like to talk about buckets so much.

Kesha: I literally do not own a bucket.

Erin: Well, I've got a barn full. I can loan you some. But I hope after this podcast that all of us will think about buckets a little differently.

Kesha: This is The Deep Well with Erin Davis. It's a podcast from Revive Our Hearts. I'm Kesha Griffin, ready to learn alongside you as Erin continues to teach from Revelation 21.

This bonus season of The Deep Well is all about hope that God's people can hold on to, described in Revelation 21.

Last time we considered the better country that God has for His people. On this final episode of this series, we'll get a new filing system for everything in our lives. 

Erin Davis: Well, you might not know her story, but if you’ve sung in many church services, I bet you have sung the words she has written. Fanny Crosby is the author of more than 9,000 hymns. One that I love is “Blessed Assurance.”Here are a few words from that hymn:

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blessed.
Watching and waiting, looking above;
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

We’ve been talking about the promises of God recorded in the book of Revelation chapter 21, and Revelation records a vision that was given to the apostle John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. By the time John was writing these words, he was an old man.

He was a young man when he had seen Jesus, experienced His ministry firsthand, but now he is coming to those sunset years—probably looking back with fondness, but even more looking forward to what was ahead for him.

John’s words are meant to give us that blessed assurance that Fanny wrote about, and to help us look above as we watch and wait for Jesus to return for us! I hope you’ve been following along. We really have been soaking in this passage for a couple of days. My life is a testimony that we cannot hear these words too often.

So let me read to us Revelation 21:1–5: 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” [Underline those words “former things” in your Bible.] 

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 

Here’s what Revelation 21 has done in my life: it has run a steel rod of truth straight up my back! It helps me stand for the gospel in ways that no other passage really does, and here’s why. Because Revelation 21 puts everything in my life into two categories.

I had a short stint as a secretary in college, and I struggled with the filing system because there were so many different categories, different colors of folders, different places for things to go. Revelation 21 gives us just two categories! I am a farm girl, and so the farm girl in me likes to think of them as two buckets: former things and eternal things—that’s it.

There’s no third option; there’s no gray area. There are just former things and eternal things. This passage has given me a new filing system for everything in my life. Either it will last forever, or it is destined to pass away. It’s either a former thing, or it’s an eternal thing.

The former things are listed for us right here in Revelation 21:4: 

He [the “He” is Jesus] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Tears? Former thing. Death? Former thing. Mourning is a former thing; crying is a former thing; pain is a former thing. 

  • All physical pain your body will ever experience, it’s a former thing. 
  • All heartache your heart will ever experience, it’s a former thing. 
  • Everything that is broken in our culture and everything that is broken in us, they all go in the former things bucket.

They’re goners; they’re circling the drain. I like to think of it with a different word picture: they’re expired milk; they’re just waiting to be thrown out. Now, sure, they might sink, but it’s not something that I am going to have to carry with me forever.

We think about our own lives; we think about what keeps us up at night, what makes our stomach tied in knots with anxiety. What keeps us from worshipping, because we’re so consumed with worry? What fractures our human relationships, because we just can’t let it go?! All of those things will ultimately end up in the “former things” bucket.

And yet, those are the things that we spend the most time thinking about, the most time trying to fix, the most time venting about or talking to others about. Scripture is saying, “Put them in the former things bucket. It’s where they belong. They’re destined to pass away.”

So, what remains? What goes in the second bucket? Let’s turn in our Bibles to Hebrews chapter 1. I’m going to read to us Hebrews 1:10–12: 

You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.

These verses give us this language: they perish; they wear out; God will roll them up.

Well, what are the “theys” and the “thems” in these verses? It’s everything listed in Revelation 21:4. Tears . . . they will perish. Pain . . . it will be rolled up. Death . . . it will be gone. The broken earth beneath our feet is a farmer thing.

But force your heart to sit in this for a moment, Hebrews 1:11 again: “They will perish, but you remain.” You can think about anything in your life right now that’s causing you grief or sorrow or anxiety, and you could look at that thing and say, “They will perish, but You remain.”

Here’s my deepest area of sin and need: discouragement, which often veers all the way into despair. I will wake up every morning and drive my life into that sin-ditch every day without the Lord’s help. I’ll wake up and find myself discouraged before I’ve even had my breakfast! This is especially true in every area of ministry. 

Motherhood: where I’m trying to raise four boys to be warriors for the Kingdom. I feel discouraged in that space every day. Serving in my church: I’m sure your church is like my church in that it is full of sinners. It can be so discouraging to serve alongside sinners! Loving my neighbor sounds really lovely, until I practically try to do it . . . and it’s hard!

Leading women to know and love their Bibles is a great passion of my life . . . and a great source of discouragement, because so many women that I know and love aren’t opening their Bibles! And bearing with each other in love is a ministry all unto its own, and a place where I fight chronic discouragement.

Without the perspective of God’s Word, I would always be discouraged in those areas. And being discouraged inevitably erodes our joy. Without the perspective of God’s Word, I would be a discouraged, fruitless, miserable Christ-follower, and that’s not who I want to be!

So here are the three words that lift my eyes from my discouragement every day. Ready for them? Three words: But. You. Remain. Jesus, You remain! All of this will pass away, but You remain! 

I will always face discouraging circumstances, but I need not alway face discouragement because what recalibrates my heart, what reenergizes my work, what refocuses my eyes on the mission is the permanence of Christ and His Kingdom . . . which brings me to that second bucket. What goes in that bucket, that eternal things bucket? 

It’s so simple. Only three things go in that bucket. God goes in the eternal things bucket. Psalm 102:12 says, “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.” God is eternal!

God’s Word goes in the second bucket. It says in 1 Peter 1:25, “But the word of the Lord remains forever.” In Isaiah 40, verse 8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” My Bible goes in the eternal things bucket!

One more thing: people. God’s people will exist with Him forever, and those who do not know him will exist without Him forever. All people are eternal things. That’s it! Just three things: God, His Word, and people. Those three things will exist for a million years; those three things will exist for a million, million years.

I don’t know the numbers that are bigger than those, but as far as our numbers go and beyond that, God, His Word, and people will exist forever! They’re eternal things! And this is the reality of Revelation 21 that has changed my life. 

It is what shifts our hearts away from the challenges we face and away from the challenges the people around us are facing—everything from minor annoyances to major heartbreaks has to go in one of the two buckets. God’s Word helps us see that so much of it is “a former thing.” Now, if you’re listening to this and you’re in the middle of real pain, real sorrow, I want you to hear me say this: I’m not saying those things don’t matter. 

God cares about the details of your life, and He asks us to carry the burdens of others. What I am saying, what Revelation 21 is teaching us, is that those things won’t always matter. Sharing the gospel, Christ’s work in our own hearts as we’re being changed into His image, the people we spend our days working beside, the children who sit around our breakfast table, the Bible which we spend our days reading and living, those things will remain forever. 

There’s a Helen Roseveare quote that has deeply impacted me. If you’re not familiar with Helen’s story, she was a missionary to central Africa in the mid-1900s. (She’s with the Lord now.)

While she was serving on the mission field, she saw civil war break out. She was arrested. The medical facilities that she had worked years to build were destroyed, and she was beaten and violently attacked. Yet whenever she would talk about living her life for Jesus, she would always talk about the privilege.

I’ve been captivated by these words in particular . . .

Helen Roseveare recording: Looking back, one has tried to count the cost, but I find it all swallowed up in privilege. The cost suddenly seems very small and transient in the greatness and permanence of the privilege.

That thought of the greatness and permanence of the privilege of living my life for Jesus has changed me. Helen’s words in particular have changed the way that I pray. I frequently pray like this: “Jesus, there is no cost to count here. There’s just the privilege.” And that is truly how I feel about living my life for Jesus.

It’s not because it’s easy, and it’s not because there are not speed bumps. But there is no cost to count; there’s just the permanence of the privilege. There’s just the fact that everything that matters goes in the eternal things bucket.

That’s not some pie-in-the-sky thought that doesn’t have any weight to it. Following Jesus cost Helen plenty! Jesus never tricked us into thinking it wouldn’t cost us. He promised us it would cost us (see Matt. 16:24). We’re living in this culture where, for some of us, we’re experiencing for the first time following Jesus costing us something . . . and there’s just the permanence of the privilege.

At the end of the day, or God willing, at the end of my life spent serving Jesus, there’s another prayer I’ve prayed often. Especially when I’m in nursing homes or around people at the end of their lives, I say, “Jesus, wring me out like a washcloth!”

I want to be in those final years and those final moments with just nothing left to give because I’ve been so squeezed by the Lord for His glory. And so, at the end of what I hope my life looks like-—where I’m just wrung out for the glory of the Lord—there’s just the permanence of the privilege; there’s just the eternal things bucket.

Whatever it costs us to follow Jesus, we should pay it, because we have the hope that God’s work in us and through us can never be taken from us! It’s already in the bucket, the eternal things bucket. There was an eighteenth-century pastor and theologian who would pray this prayer: “Lord, stamp eternity onto my eyeballs!”

I have that written in the margins of my Bible next to Revelation 21, because that’s what this passage does for me. It sears eternity onto my eyeballs. My flesh, my eyeballs, want to look at this moment in time, but this passage stamps eternity onto my eyeballs.

This is the reason why Revelation 21 has changed me, why I hope it’s changed my family, why I hope it’s changed my small group, my church, my community. It has taught me to focus on what goes in the eternal things bucket and to hold on very loosely to everything in the former things bucket.

I was traveling recently (and you should know, I’m a head-down traveler). The woman next to me was trying to strike up a conversation, and I was putting off the vibe that I didn’t want to talk, but she wasn’t picking up on it. She started to tell me this story. It was an unbelievable story! (I Googled it later, because it seemed so unreal what she was telling me.)

It’s her story. (I won’t tell it here.) But the bottom line was that her family had experienced such tremendous horror and grief. I couldn’t look her in the eyes as she was telling it to me. She finished the story and she looked at me. I knew she wanted me to tell her something, but I didn’t know what it was.

So I asked this question, “Are the promises of God true?” This woman was a pastor’s wife; she was a woman of faith. I needed to know if God really keeps His promises in a valley so dark I couldn’t fathom it.

She looked at me and smiled, and she said this: “Every single one of them!” God had kept His promises to her in such incredibly dark moments! And barely on the other side of that darkness, she was declaring that God keeps every single promise He’s ever made to His children. 

I think of her so often, and I can’t wait to see her in heaven and tell her how that story has transformed me, to know that these promises in Revelation 21—which, frankly, feel too good to be true—are going to be kept. Because, does God keep His promises? Every single one of them! 

I want you to think about Fanny Crosby again. I read to you some of her lyrics from “Blessed Assurance.”Here’s some of her story: Fanny was a blind hymn writer, but she wasn’t born blind. She experienced blindness as the result of a medical error when she was a baby. 

Someone once said something to Fanny about what a pity it was that God didn’t give her sight when He had given her so many other gifts. And Fanny said this, 

Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind. Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!

In many ways, Fanny’s reality is our reality. When we get to heaven, all will be revealed. We’ll see in full for the very first time, the precious gifts that Jesus has been storing up for us, and this is our blessed assurance: former things are going to take their rightful place as things that are no more. They’re goners!

And eternal things: God, God’s Word, and God’s people will be ours forever! Lord, stamp eternity onto our eyeballs! Amen!

Kesha: Erin Davis has been reminded us that the things that break our hearts, the things that fill our hearts with fear, the things that bring tears to our eyes, these are not eternal things. They go in the former things bucket. One day soon, they will pass away. This series has filled my heart with so much joy.

If you loved opening your Bible with Erin, grab Erin's latest study, 7 Feasts: Finding Christ in the Sacred Celebrations of the Old Testament. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com/TheDeepWell

Erin Unscripted

Kesha: Alright it’s time for Erin Unscripted, are you ready Erin?

Erin: I’m ready

Kesha: I first heard the teaching from Erin about former things and new things or eternal things, and it got me to thinking about the transition between 2020 and 2021.

Erin: Well, I know we’re well into 2021 by now, but as I think back to 2020.

Kesha: Erin, your teaching on Revelation 21 could not be more timelier. I’ve truly enjoyed the series. Your lesson on the two buckets, the former things and the new things was so good. It was just amazing and so good. I was encouraged by it very much. It gave me hope.

It’s not too often that I write New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I didn’t write any New Year’s resolutions this year, but I did make a mental note of things that I wanted to focus on in 2021. And one thing that I am going to be focusing on in 2021 is using my time wisely. 

Have you written down any New Year’s resolutions for 2021?

Erin: I’m not a New Year’s resolutions girl either, just cause I know myself so well. I like to set myself up for success, but 2020 taught me that I don’t just need more time. I’ve always thought, Well if I had more time, then I would walk closer with Jesus. Well, 2020 handed me nearly endless time.

2020 taught me that I don’t just need less responsibilities. I’ve thought that, too. Well, if I have so much on my plate and if I didn’t have this, then I would prioritize walking with Jesus. Well, all my responsibilities evaporated, and I still reached for things other than Jesus to give me comfort. 

And so, 2020 was such a collision with recognizing my flesh, that it’s not just that I need my circumstances to change, I need God to change me. 

Kesha: Yes. 

Erin: I headed into the new year with a level of humility. I’m not sure I’ve headed into a new year before just realizing, “I can’t do anything in my own strength. I won’t.” I need Jesus, and so my resolve is the same this year as it probably will be every year until I’m in glory, which is just I want to open my Bible, open my Bible, open my Bible, open my Bible.

And not just to read it, but because it is the means by which Jesus transforms me. So, I’m just trying to keep opening my Bible. 

Kesha: And as we open up our Bibles, especially after listening your series of the former things and the new things, I as a sexual abuse survivor (you know my story) am often plagued by the former things. The former things, the suffering of traumatic memories, and those things. If I’m not careful, I can tend to dwell on the former things. 

But you have helped me through your series to remember to focus on eternal things, the things that matter most. You said there’s three things, only three things, that belong in that bucket: that is God Himself, the Word of God, and God’s people. 

Three things belong in that bucket. Can you give us two tips on how to stay focused? You mentioned God and seeking Jesus and being proactive and intentional in 2021. But help us to focus on God’s people. I think we’re missing that right now. We’re missing that aspect. 

Erin: We’re for sure missing that. 

Kesha: Yeah. 

Erin: I think another thing that 2020 did for me is for several months of it I just took a giant permission slip to focus on myself.

Kesha: Right. 

Erin: I turned inward. We were all at home.

Kesha: Yeah. 

Erin: And so, the activity that might normally turn us outward, it was all gone. 

Kesha: Exactly.

Erin: I couldn’t reach out to a friend necessarily and invite her for coffee, if I knew she was down. I couldn’t take meals to somebody necessarily. So, I just got real comfortable in my sweat pants and my Netflix and my snacks, and I just focused on me. And few things are a faster track to misery than focusing on ourselves. 

And what happened is, a woman in my church named Nancy (not Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, but a different Nancy who goes to my church) . . . What you should know about Nancy is, she’s in all the high-risk categories for coronavirus. She had a partial lung removed last year. She’s in the over sixty-five bracket. She had every reason to just hunker down at home, but instead, Nancy calls me one day and says, “Hey Erin, I’m making the rounds. I’m blessing people, I don’t really want to get close to you, but I’m going to drop some food off on your picnic table. Would love to chat with you at distance for that.”

So, I met Nancy out at the picnic table. She’d cooked a meal for my family. She’d bought a plant for me. She’d written out Bible verses. I was just one of, I don’t know how many, stops on Nancy’s list that day. I was very blessed by it, but also deeply convicted that I had not been reaching out. 

And so, how do we treasure God’s people? Think about it this way, God’s people are who you are going to spend eternity with. 

Kesha: Yes. 

Erin: I mean, they are who you are going to be with for ever and ever and ever and ever. Another way to think about it is, they’re who God has chosen to be with forever and ever and ever. So, they’re precious. I think we have to find ways to reach out.

Now, am I telling to violate the mask mandates in your county? No, I’m not. Am I telling you to do things that you’re not comfortable with? No, I’m not. There are so many ways that we can reach towards God’s people, even while being careful during the midst.

So, that’s my question. Do you treasure God’s people? Do you see them as the treasure that God does? They are one of a very short list of things that are going to last forever. And then if you, how do you reach out?

Are you praying for the saints? I believe that the war on the saints has ratcheted up a few notches.

Kesha: Yes. 

Erin: I don't know all the ins and outs of that, but I know there’s a way on the saints. Are you praying for the saints? Are you encouraging the saints? Scripture tells us as long as it’s called today, encourage each other. If it’s a day that ends in “y”, you need to be encouraging the saints. There’s a lot of ways to do that. It could be a text message; it doesn’t have to take long.

And then, God’s people are in your home, probably. My husband and my children are God’s people, they’re part of God’s family. And so, am I intentionally turning outward toward them, or just turning inward toward myself? 

I want to invest. When I think about how I spend my time, how I spend my money, how I spend my energy, I gotta find ways to put them in the eternal things bucket. That means investing in them, in God, God’s Word, and God’s people. 

Kesha: Through your series, that’s exactly what I have been thinking about. It actually solidified for me that my mindset on 2021 is the mindset I should be having for 2021, to focus on God’s Word and, of course, God Himself—pursuing Him, getting to know Him more, God’s Word. But ultimately, that last part, which is God’s people. How can I serve God’s people more and better? So, thank you for that teaching on the three things that go into those buckets. 

Erin: My pleasure.

Kesha: I’ve loved learning from Erin and I’ve opening my Bible with each of you. Don’t forget, God’s Word is a deep well. You can drop down your bucket and pull up truth every time. 

The Deep Well with Erin Davis is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Teachers

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

About the Guests

Kesha Griffin

Kesha Griffin

Kesha Griffin is a wife and blogger who is passionate about helping women know that the Bible contains everything we need pertaining to life and godliness. As a sexual abuse survivor, she seeks to give Christian survivors hope in Christ for their healing, freedom, and victorious godly living. She is the founder of Bible Thinking Woman, co-host of Kaleoscope podcast, and also has a Facebook support group for sexual abuse survivors within the church. Currently, she is pursuing biblical counseling certification from ACBC. Kesha’s greatest joy is supporting her husband as he serves as pastor of their church in Gardena, CA.