Here's an article that Joe wrote for a homeschool newsletter and I thought it was great (of course) and wanted to post it here. Soon I'll have another guest blog about the futbol game he went to with Jake, Caleb and Ben.
Empty Ice Trays
When I was growing up, my dad rarely lost his temper. However, I recently remembered one occasion when it happened. We lived in Texas, and dad came in after working outside in the hot Texas summer sun. He went to the cabinet, got out a glass, picked up the pitcher of tea, and opened the freezer. In a sudden fit of rage, he yelled (something that I have probably blocked from my memory J) and threw six empty ice trays across the room. He could not believe that people would put empty ice trays in the freezer! Why would you do that? I distinctly remember shrinking down into my chair, but in my 10 or 11 year old mind I thought, “Dad, you are overreacting just a little. It’s only an ice tray. Give it a rest.” (yes, it was disrespectful, but I remember thinking it).
Now, as a 44 year old man I understand. You see, history does repeat itself. In the States, you live in the age of ice makers. Here, we live in the age of ‘probably don’t have a freezer but if you do, you have ice trays’. We have ice trays. We have a lot of ice trays. The freezer on our fridge serves NO other purpose but to hold our ice trays. That is it. This is necessary because Denise, much to dental chagrin, eats ice like it is cotton candy. It just disappears into your mouth. She is an addict. Not only do our ice trays have to keep up with Denise’s vice of ice eating…they also have to furnish our family of 11 with ice for our tea, water and occasional coke.
So, you would think that our kids…who also like ice…would by now have discovered a rule of physics. It is this: Water has to be at 32 degrees or less in order to become a solid. If you want ice, then you have to put water in the ice tray and put the tray in the freezer. Now, this isn’t a difficult task. It is one that even our five year old can accomplish with minimum effort. We keep a gallon of filtered water (we can’t drink tap water) on the counter in a thermos with a spigot. You put the ice tray under the spigot, open it and in 10 seconds you have a tray full of potential ice. Now, all you need to do is put it in the freezer. Simple. It isn’t rocket science or homeschool math.
But day after day….literally ALMOST EVERY DAY, I go to the freezer to get ice and all I find are empty ice trays…in the stinking freezer! I have, in the role of my own father (without the rage and baseball pitch) queried my kids. “Why in the world can you not simply take ten seconds and refill the ice tray when you use it? Why do you insist on just taking one cube, rather than empty the tray into the bucket and refilling it? Why, when you know that you have taken the last tray, do you put…or leave…it in the freezer?
Today….I had already planned on writing this article…and as a real-life illustration, I opened the freezer to get some ice for a drink. There was not a single cube of ice! There was no ice in the bucket, and no ice in the trays. Now, remember, all of the ice trays and the bucket were in the freezer. We had plenty of ‘cold air cubes’, but no ice, and the thing about it is that you don’t know it until you need it. Ice trays look good until you pick them up and find that they have no ice.
Here is my question? What good is an empty ice tray? What does it do when it isn’t fulfilling its purpose of making ice? Why would anyone put an empty ice tray in the freezer….a molded plastic container full of potential pleasure now only taking up space and producing frustration? Well, my kids have one of two answers. Either they, like the famous Sergeant Schultz of ‘Hogan’s Heroes’….”Know nothing, see nothing!” They didn’t even know we had ice trays…or a freezer…or glasses. J Or, the other answer is, “I didn’t know it was empty. I just took one cube.”
Empty Ice Trays.
Empty Ice Trays..
Empty Ice Trays…you know what? Empty Ice Trays are unfortunately a great word picture for many Christians.
I believe that sometimes God looks at us and thinks…why are you doing that? Why are you satisfied with empty potential when you could have spirit-filled purpose? Why are you allowing yourself to simply take up space, instead of bringing pleasure to the One Who made you? Why are you frustrated with life, when God created you to have passion in life?
Well, we don’t know how it happened. We just took one cube at a time. This cube was taken by the effort that homeschooling our kids requires. Then another cube was removed by the pain a friend caused. The third cube, and then the fourth and fifth one, were jerked out of our heart by financial pressures. Then there are the cubes that just fell out during the course of life and melted unused on the floor. Bitterness melted the ninth…and so on.
We never even knew that our tray…our hearts…were empty. They still looked shiny to people from a distance. Our lives look good to those across the auditorium, or on the phone, or in the other office. We appear to be doing exactly what we should.
But…when we examine our insides…or God lovingly picks us up when it is time for our purpose to be realized…we discover that we are shiny, plastic Christians. There is no substance in our lives.
And the sad part is this. Refilling is so easy that even your five year old believer can do it. It is even easier than filling an ice tray. We simply look to Jesus. We confess the sin that melted our cube…or we ask for help to replace the hole that life drained out of us. Jesus hears and sees us, and then the Holy Spirit of the Living God will come into us and fill us. He will abide in us, and we will abide in Him…and when that happens (to leave the ice metaphor), we will bear much fruit and glorify the Father.
My fellow homeschooler…your children are like me in my home. They can see the reality in the tray. They know whether you are empty or filled. Are you, right now, full of the Holy Spirit and bringing glory to Christ in the way that you educate, train, and respond to the life situations of homeschooling? Or is there another ice tray flying across the room in frustration?
Living on the mission field has given me plenty of opportunities to have my heart emptied…so I know what I am talking about. Jesus is enough, and He wants to us to be full…not just when we are empty…but anytime something removes a single cube. And life is too short….and people are too important…to live it on empty.
Until Next Month,
Joe…A Proud Member Of The Frozen Chosen
At least for this article