Thursday, January 14, 2010
Running On Empty
I almost ran out of gas the other day. I had been out and about, running errands and paying bills (yuk), and had not paid attention to how much gas was in my car. Suddenly the gas light, accompanied by its little chime, lit up. I knew I had to find a station soon or I would be stranded. The problem was, I was about 10 miles from the nearest gas station, so I did what anyone else would do---I panicked!!! I berated myself for how silly it was to not check my fuel gauge---I lectured myself for taking the route I had chosen---and I blamed how "busy" I was for distracting me. Bottom line is, I was negligent and thought that I could travel farther before having to refuel. My judgment was faulty.
Once I returned home, with a full tank of gas, I just couldn't stop thinking about how easily I could have gotten myself stranded. I couldn't get it out of my head that my own misguided judgment nearly got me in a precarious situation. I felt out of sorts, frustrated, and anxious. I settled down with my Bible, looking to it, as I always do, for comfort and direction. I read a few chapters but couldn't keep my focus. I began to pray and ask God to reveal to me what was so persistently pulling at my mind and spirit. Very gently He spoke to my heart, "Daughter, you are running on empty.".
Suddenly, I knew why my heart felt heavy and why my spirit seemed subdued. The joy of the Lord had become hidden under the cares of everyday life. His peace had been replaced with my struggle to play "Miss Fix-It" to life situations. His love had been forgotten under the demands of work. Without time in His presence---without communion with Him---without His word hidden in my heart---my spirit and soul had been emptied out and I had nothing left on which to run. I was, indeed, running on empty.
Oh, dear friends, do I need to tell you that the rest of the day was spent hovering over His precious Word and hiding it deep within my soul? Must I describe to you the tears of repentance that fell down my cheeks as I asked His forgiveness for my thoughtless neglect? Yes, I must tell you that my weary being found rest and reprieve at His feet and, for a day, I was Mary, yearning to look into the face of Jesus. For a day, I was blessed to hover in His presence and find, once again, refreshing for my heart and mind. At the end of the day, I was full. My cup had begun to overflow.
How easily life takes from us the very things that we need to survive in today's society. We get lost in daily routines, task lists, deadlines, and obligations. How easy it becomes to put time with God to the bottom of the list---not intentionally---but it happens nonetheless. We come to the end of the day, weary and worn, giving God what is left over and hoping He will give us some small encouragement from on high. We come to the place where we are certain that we can handle things on our own with only a token recognition of God's ability to do above and beyond what we could expect or imagine. We remain unfulfilled and empty.
God makes no demands on us. He allows us to pursue our dreams, meet our goals, and live our lives. Through it all, He waits. Waits until we are ready to be filled, daily, from His wellspring of love, grace, and mercy. Waits until we realize how empty we can really be. Then He reaches down and, through His tremendous compassion, occupies our heart and fills it until we overflow. How blessed it is to lean on our Lord, knowing He can direct our lives far better than we ourselves.
I don't think I will allow myself to come so close to running out of gas again. It was a very scary experience for me. Even more frightening is a day without the presence of the wonderful God I serve. I yearn for Him, long for Him, cannot wait to feel Him near. He thrills me, fills me. I'm running the race, indeed, but with a full heart---a heart that is no longer running on empty.