When You're Running on Empty
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NKJV)
My heart beat a little faster as I realized the truth about my situation.
I needed fuel and couldn’t find any.
Yes, the “low fuel” warning lit up miles ago which meant my dear, well-intentioned van showed me the empty gas tank with the words, “Drive to a gas station,” spelled out in bright yellow letters.
Yes, I saw it. Yes, I acknowledged it … and yes, I ignored it.
I’ve actually built a bit of a reputation for waiting until the very last second to stop for gas. In college, my sister usually bore the brunt of my push-it-till-the-last-drop decisions. Let’s just say, there may have been a time or two I parked our shared vehicle in front of the apartment on empty, only for her to drive it next and run out of gas on the way to fill up.
This particular day, with my six kids in the backseat, I wondered if I’d make it in time.
My friend in the passenger seat noticed me tighten my grip on the wheel and squirmed in her seat. “Are we pushing it?” she asked.
“Yep,” I answered, as we drove down the highway in silence.
For a moment, my mind wandered to a time similar to this one … only it was my soul on empty.
My days started before sunrise and ended long after the stars twinkled overhead. Demands flooded from every direction. And duty pounded on my door.
Some nights I met my husband at the door and fell into his arms, tears dropping at his feet. There just wasn’t enough of me to go around.
I noticed my soul’s “low fuel” light. I felt God’s gentle nudge to pull away and fill up in His presence. But I ignored it. It wasn't until I neared a breakdown that I finally realized how vital that fuel really is.
Recently I learned of a woman in a similar season of life but who handled it differently. As she noticed the “low fuel” lights in her soul, she began to pray, God, show me a time I can be with You.
Not long after, she started waking up every day at 2 a.m. No alarm clock. No screaming baby to blame. She just woke up, and she took it as God’s offer to meet with Him.
She would get out of bed and snuggle up to her Lord for the next hour or so. Then she slipped back under the covers until life and light woke her again.
When I felt those same spiritual “low fuel” signs, instead of asking God to show me time, I argued with Him about how I didn’t have enough time. When He gently nudged me to wake a little earlier and spend those quiet moments with Him, I brushed it off and reasoned, There’s no way God would want me to do this. He knows I need my sleep.
Sometimes it seems futile to pull over. There’s always a place to go, a mission to accomplish or an errand to run. And stopping to refuel feels like a waste of time. But in today’s key verse Jesus reminds us, “… without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b).
We don’t know what each day holds, but God sees what’s next. He knows what we need and how to equip us for the things ahead. If only we’ll pay attention when the Light alerts us.
That dreadful day on the highway as the last drops of gasoline dripped out of the tank, we found help. I’ve never been more excited to see a gas station. And when I pulled away with a full tank of gas, my heart felt very different than when we arrived. I felt relief and confidence to continue moving down the road.
My soul also found relief through those draining days of life. After physical sickness, emotional exhaustion and a spiritual drought, I finally dropped to my knees and admitted my need for a fuel only found in Jesus. I gulped down His presence and drank in His peace, all the while wondering why I waited so long to pull over.
If your soul is nearing empty, don’t wait! Take time to fuel up and find rest for your soul.
Dear God, I can’t make it on my own. Forgive me for ever thinking I could. Thank You for Your faithfulness to fill me up, if only I’ll remain in You and pay attention to Your instruction. Help me abide in You today, depending on You alone for everything I need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (HCSB)
Psalm 42:1, “My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God, as a deer thirsts for water.” (VOICE)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are your spiritual “low fuel” warning lights?
Take some time today to think about these and make a plan for how you’ll respond the next time your soul needs to fill up.
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