The Green Bucket

February 26, 2010 | 12 comments

I sit at dock’s end, dipping bare toes into a rippling cathedral of nature. Wailing loons, woodpeckers and screeching eagles are my unseen church choir. My girls press in close clutching Mickey Mouse fishing poles. They dip worm-tipped hooks into a holy place.

And we worship without words.

On these wooden planks, I ask myself: What more could I want, sitting here on the edge of a thin place, where Heaven seems nearer and the veil between this place and the next One is like gossamer?

As a child, growing up with vacations on these northern lakes of Minnesota and Canada, I would sit on the front swivel seat of a Lund boat, while my father would cut a “V” through glassy water.

I would sweep an arm from left to right in an exaggerated gesture, as if to say: Look at all this, would you? And then I would swivel to catch his eye, and we’d throw back our heads in laughter, and lift voices so the Heavens could hear us shouting in unison: “This is the life!”

I find myself in that place again at the end of this dock, with my own children. I feel especially close to Heaven, but I’m in no hurry to get there. For I’ve been given much to enjoy here.

My heart spills with gratitude, and I whisper to the girls: “This is the life, huh?”


The bobber dips, and the girls jerk and reel and giggle. One after another, little sunfish fill the green bucket.

We intend to send the “sunnies” back home when we’re done fishing. But for a time, we collect them like trophies, dropping them in a water-filled bucket. The girls want to make the fishes’ home-away-from-home comfortable, so they add a few amenities. They add handfuls of sand, and moss-covered rocks, and a sprig or two of seaweed.

They lean over the bucket and sigh with satisfaction as a dozen happy sunfish twist and dart and swirl in their temporary residence, this old green bucket.

But the sun will soon be lowering over birch and pines, and now it’s time to go inside. We need to let the fish go home.

I tip the bucket ever-so-slightly, so the water drains slowly. We want to watch the fish make their grand exit. But they resist.

It’s as if they’ve forgotten where they came from and where home really is — 75 acres of water below the tipped bucket.

But they fight to stay in an old green bucket.

As water slowly drains life from their home, a dozen fish swim back deeper inside the bucket.

But soon, the water is gone. They have to exit.

And in that moment — a mere breath — each fish moved from fear to freedom, swimming fast and far to a place I couldn’t see. At the exit, they found true life.


The fish are gone, and I’m still here on dock’s end. I prop kid-sized fishing poles on a green bucket, and I snap a picture. And that’s when I see myself there — so comfortable in my own green bucket that I realize again what I’d forgotten:

This is not the end. I was made for something more than this well-appointed home-away-from-home. And even on the very best days here, I was made for life on the other side of these walls

There will be a day when my home will be tipped, and if I turn my eyes to the Light,
I’ll get a view of the Exit as Living Water carries me to it. And in a breath, I’ll jump, and I’ll laugh and sweep my arm from left to right, as if to say: Would you look at this?
And I’ll throw my head back shouting: “This is the Life!”

And the One who gave it to me, will be waiting for me to say: “Yes, it really is.”


“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him.”

— 1 Corinthians 2:9


Father God, Thank you for the multitude of blessings that you’ve poured into my home-away-from-home. I pray it pleases You when I shout out with gratitude: “This is the life!” But let me not forget that you’ve prepared an even greater place for me. And let me not forget that you’ve done the same for others who’ve taken the exit from this Green Bucket.

… And Lord, when it’s my time to go, let me not pause at the Exit. But let me leap for joy into Your presence! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m reposting from the archives today while I’m away at a retreat, where I’ll be speaking about life outside of that ol’ Green Bucket. God has so much for us, doesn’t He? Blessings to you as you enjoy all He has given you.

May you shout to the Heavens: “This is the Life!”

by | February 26, 2010 | 12 comments


  1. Mc Allen

    WOW~ I could feel the love and satisfaction, and thankfulness that you feel. I truly love this post. Thank you for sharing your "bucket" with us!!! xoxo LA

  2. patty

    I know this is a repost & I've read it before…but it still brought tears to my eyes and calmness to my heart. Be blessed this weekend, dear one. love you.

  3. Red Letter Believers

    on this, the saddest day of my life, i needed these words. "This is not the end."

    I feel such saddness at my current situation, but I know there are brighter days…it's promised. So I wait. Thank you.


  4. Rose

    I was so drawn in as you painted the scene so eloquently with your words. I was so moved to tears by it all and how beautifully you made the analogy of the water of green bucket and the living water carrying the fish and us to something better!This is a beautiful post!

  5. Kay @ Off the Beaten Path

    What a marvelous real-life illustration of a principle I have such a hard time wrapping my brain around for some reason. I'm like those silly little fish so often. Because we've moved often and I'm the kind of gal who longs for permanency and roots, I've spent most of my adult life frustrated that I don't "feel like I'm home." Then it occurs to me that I'm not supposed to and maybe God has even done me a bit of a favor by not allowing me to have those deep roots. Still I long for them. So, thanks to your post, I'll try to focus on the roots I have in heaven where Jesus has gone to prepare a place for me!

  6. Shirl

    Beautiful and peaceful post!

  7. Stephani

    Beautiful post. I just found your blog recently and I truly enjoy it. I know it is fast becoming a favorite.

  8. Jennifer

    Glad you reposted this one. It spoke so much to my feelings yesterday. Tipping the bucket happens each day I struggle to stay in the arms of my old life instead of leaping joyfully into the living water.

  9. Cindy

    Thank You Dear Friend, for reminding me of that ultimate JOY. That multitude of moments that I cling to only to be the release of me to a greater multitude of a lifetime that awaits me!! Along with my father and your father-in-law. I can see them having coffee together – talking farming in their "THIS IS THE LIFE" Thanks friend for taking me a step closer to HIM today.

    Love ya, Cindy

  10. elaine @ peace for the journey

    Loved it the first time… love it still. A good reminder to me to move with the water's flow rather than resist it.

    Beautiful, friend.


  11. Michele Williams

    You have brought joy and a calm spirit to my heart today my dear friend.


    I enjoyed looking over your blog.

    You are more than welcome to visit my mine.

    God Bless You, Ron
    ronj1946 at gmail dot com


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