I recently read a quote that said, "We can only pour out if we are poured into."
It's the phrase "can only" that bothers me.
God is not limited. He can pour from an empty vessel. He can pour from a broken vessel. He can pour when there is no vessel at all. The God, who created the universe and breathed life into it, is not limited. Period.
It's not about our effort, our abilities, our anything. God is bigger. The mountain creator is the mountain mover. He can do it.
Think about the poor widow who cried out to the prophet Elisha. Her husband had been a servant and follower of the prophets, a faithful man of God, but when he died, a creditor came to collect his sons as payment for his debts. I imagine an instant churning in her stomach. Her husband gone. Her sons to become slaves. And she pictured her waning years alone and destitute.
Hope, so full, had become empty, broken, and dead.
The widow cried to Elisha the prophet. She cried out to God.
Elisha asked what she had to give. She had nothing. Nothing but a single jar of oil. Oil to light her lamp. Oil to feed her family. Oil to survive until it runs out.
Did God need her oil to make more? No. Did He need her jar? No. Did He need her? Like a good father needs his daughter, He needed her and nothing more. Arms wrapped around her, the God of the universe filled so much more than the empty jars her sons collected. He filled her.
Empty. Now filled. Broken. Now restored. Dead. Now alive.
2 Kings 4 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”