The Green Bucket

August 24, 2009 | 28 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.

by | August 24, 2009 | 28 comments


  1. Melinda

    I've watched this "scramble to stay" myself, on more than one occasion, shaking my head with incredulous wonder all the while. Never once did I notice it was a picture of my own dance.

    Marvelous post. Truly.

  2. RCUBEs

    We are confined in that "green bucket" and what a freedom it must be to enjoy a much bigger place, so big that we can't even imagine. Sad thing, it's only for those who will bite on that bait [Christ] that will have that place of hope, of eternity. Your post is always amazing to be reflected upon. Blessings to you sister. And I'm glad you had a wonderful "break". You went fishing…and may many wandering fishes come by here to hear about that "Special Bait" that leads to freedom.

  3. Doug Spurling

    Around and around I go in the little green bucket frustrated cause it seems I'm not getting anywhere. Thank you for reminding me I'm not home yet that's why the bucket seems so small. Eye opening post. The inspiration of beautiful Minnesota huh?

  4. Julie

    Thank you, Jennifer for this post. What a much needed reminder that something much better waits for us.

  5. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    I enjoyed the visual of the green bucket and our lives here. "This is not the end" indeed. Amen.
    ~ Wendy

  6. Red Letter Believers

    wow this is good. We really think our green bucket is home. We cling so tightly to the things of earth…our money, our possessions, our relationships .. and we forget about the great ocean of his love.


  7. Lyla Lindquist

    What's that old C.S. Lewis quote? "…like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

    Seems I am, anyway. Too easily pleased.

    You, my friend, have once again seen with that remarkable eternal eye of yours. And let words spill out with the equally remarkable soul-saturating pen.

    Thank you for that.

  8. Kee

    Beautiful Jennifer, just beautiful!
    May you continue to use this gift God has given you to reach out, and touch people.
    I know your words always touch my heart every time I visit.

  9. Chris Godfredsen

    Simply stated, a Getting Down With Jesus classic!

    I love tale, but better still I love God's story and how we get to swim in the same bucket, so to speak.

    Until He calls us home…Chris

  10. Chris Godfredsen

    Simply stated, a Getting Down With Jesus classic!

    I love tale, but better still I love God's story and how we get to swim in the same bucket, so to speak.

    Until He calls us home…Chris

  11. Laura

    I have days like this…gasping…fighting for this life when I know there is one so much better waiting.

    Beautiful post, Jennifer.

  12. Steve

    With all the beautiful things God has given us to enjoy,and even with all the blessings,One day we'll leave this all behind to go to a place far better, and the beauty is really unknown to what the Father has prepared for us.What peace and joy a person can find with family, when you can just get away from it all, and think of the times to come, and a home that awaits us.Bless you for this post.

  13. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    Praise you Lord for preparing a place for us in your Glory!

    Thanks for this fabulous post Jennifer. You are a breath of fresh air.

  14. christy rose

    Yep! I think that Beth said it well, "you are a breath of fresh air." Thanks for breathing this post today.

  15. girlinaglasshouse

    I am delighted that you left a comment on my blog so that I could find you here. As a fellow writer I sighed deeply at your wonderful choice of words…but as a fellow follower of Christ I recognized the truth of this story in me!

    Beautifully crafted piece

  16. Anne L.B.

    Jennifer, I was asked to nominate seven blogs for the "Kreativ Blogger" award over at Comfort Writer and posted a nomination and link for you.

  17. James Oh

    Marvelous post and give us a much clearer picture what Christ had done everything so as to set us free, otherwise we would be confined our living in the green bucket.

    Thanks God.

  18. elaine @ peace for the journey


    You speak a vital and living truth with this post. I've learned to live with the "exit" in mind. My life has been filled with plenty of raw ponderings along these lines; I know you could voice the same.

    We are strugglers; grasping for the seen, yet somehow knowing that the unseen is where true life is found. I imagine this will be our grappling for the rest of our earthly pilgrimage. But moments like these, the ones that simply breathe the truth of all eternity, buoy our hearts for the walk home. How thankful I am for the times when my mind does actually conceive and my heart perceives and my faith believes that I was created for more than now.

    And you, precious one, are the "bomb" for me. I get it. Every word of it.

    Keep to Jesus and then grab your pen! I can't wait to see what he will birth in you next.


  19. Deborah Ann

    Jennifer, you are an amazing writer. You took a simple object (the green bucket) and made a whole world out of it. You have filled me with joy on this quiet morning, drinking coffee out of my green coffee mug, and making my own green bucket of it.


  20. Prairie Chick

    mmmm, beautiful as always my friend. I am one who looks up from that green bucket, drawn to that blue sky above and everything in me screams for flight! But I am a fish learning to find joy in the bucket until He comes to set me free. But oh what a day that will be!!!

  21. mom2six

    With youngest son reading over my shoulder…"That's really good. It's a book, a poem, and a prayer all together," he says (he's 9). Your words are poetry spoken as a prayer as He writes the eternal story. Wonderful glimpse of embracing forever.

  22. Kee

    Thank you for your beautiful comment on my living post. Your posts and cornments encourage, uplift and inspire me to live my life to the fullist and also to continue with my journey to get closer to HIM.
    Thank youy friend.

  23. Candi

    You meant the metaphor of the green bucket to be life here on earth, and the leaping out of the bucket into the deep water to be Heaven.

    Here's what God spoke to me through your images:

    My green bucket is a structured homeschool day, a structured school week, a child who learns "normally" (i.e. like everyone else, as if everyone else learns in a uniform way). My deep water is the glorious adventure of teaching my child what God wants her to know: how to love Him, how to follow Him, how to trust Him.

    And the best way I can teach her those things is to model them for her.

    Schedule or not. Covering every academic subject or not. Checking off items on an agenda or not.

    Thank you, Jennifer, for your resonating metaphor. (And for your encouraging comment at Excavations. I needed those sweet words more than I knew.)

  24. Warren Baldwin

    You are such a good writer, Jennifer.

  25. cindy

    written so tenderly

    thank you

  26. RCUBEs

    I posted something about prison ministry this morning. And you came to mind as I did. Just wondering if a little bit of info will help? Blessings.

  27. Nicole Suzanne Farley

    Jennifer, THANK YOU for your comment, it filled me with joy to hear that a stranger (of course, family in Christ!) would be lifting us up. I'm excited to read your blog now, yay!

  28. Kelly

    I've been reading the "Anne" books again recently. There have been a couple of references to death that left me thinking, something about "liking the familiar places better than the unknown."

    Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

    But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

    Thank you for the comfort offered here in this post. I have just come from another that speaks of mourning. How wonderful, God's Spirit working and speaking and encouraging through so many…


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