Running on Empty

Once I was stranded in the parking lot of a grocery store because my car wouldn’t start.  I tried everything, and was really starting to feel helpless when a kind man came to lend a hand.  It didn’t take long for him to diagnose the problem.  “Lady, I think your car is out of gas.”  Oh.  I never wanted to repeat that embarrassing situation, so I knew I had two options to keep from ever running out of gas:  never go anywhere or keep an eye on the gauge.

Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t go anymore?  You didn’t blow a tire.  You didn’t blow an engine.  No one ran into you.  You just flat ran out of gas.  How did that happen?  You neglected to keep an eye on your gauge.  You’d probably been running on fumes for a while.

When your car runs out of gas, you are forced to stop.  No matter how many things are left on your to-do list, or how many errands you have left to run, you’re stuck.  Not only that, you’ll probably have to rely on someone else to come rescue you by bringing a can of gas to get you going again.  You may not have reached the point yet where you’ve run out of gas, but are you dangerously close?  Are you running on fumes?  Has the joy left your days because you lack the energy to keep up with everything?  What can you do to keep from running out of gas?

BEWARE OF THE DISTRACTIONS.  There are several detours we often take that make us spend more time running around than we had planned.  Let’s look at two of the biggies.

Worry is a costly distraction.  If I gave you a sheet of paper and asked you to list ten things that you are worried about, could you do it?  I could!  Worry expends energy and depletes our resources.  It steals the zest that we need for real Godly living.  We know this, just as surely as we know that cars need gas to run, but sometimes we forget to check on our worry gauge.  Jesus gives a powerful reminder in Matthew 6.  He tells us not to worry about life (v. 25).  He tells us that worry accomplishes nothing (v. 27).  And He tells us that He’s got tomorrow taken care of (v. 34).  Paul wrote to Christians who had some things to worry about.  They were facing persecution, dealing with false teachers, and experiencing strife in their home congregation.  Paul advised them to worry about nothing and pray about everything (Phil. 4:6).  The result would be the peace of God guarding their hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7).  Isn’t peace the opposite of worry?

Being overwhelmed is another distraction.  How do you feel when your schedule is packed, and has been for a while?  Grouchy?  Tearful?  A little less enthusiastic?  Resentful?  Regretful?  Fragile?  It’s easy to get caught up in overcommitment. The things you’re busy doing are probably all very good, but can still cause you to feel overwhelmed if you find yourself rushing from one commitment to the next.  How can we keep from overextending?  First, be disciplined to know when enough is enough.  “If you find honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it” (Prov. 25:16).  Although honey is good, it will make you sick if you don’t practice self-control.  We need to have the wisdom and restraint to know when to say, “That’s enough for now.”  Second, don’t lose sight of your goal.  As the saying goes, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  As Christians, our ultimate goal is to go to Heaven and to take others with us.  When faced with something you’re going to have to write on your calendar, ask yourself, “Will this make it easier or harder to reach my goal?”

LET GOD DRIVE.  Sometimes we’re just lousy drivers.  When we direct our own course, we can get lost, or at least way off course.  Notice what happened to the psalmist who tried to do things on his own (Psalm 77).  He got overwhelmed in a hurry!  What was his solution?  Remember God’s greatness.  The difference between being weighed down and running with endurance is looking to Jesus (Heb. 12:1,2).  When we take our eyes off of Him, our attention becomes fixed on other things.  Anything that takes our eyes off the Lord becomes a danger to us.  Instead we must turn to God for direction.  Filling up on His Word will keep us from running on empty.

Prayer for Today:  May I have the desire and strength to “work till Jesus comes,” and the wisdom to know what takes precedence.  

Author: Kathy Pollard

I'm a Christian woman, happily married to my best friend, Neal. We have 3 grown sons, Gary, Dale, and Carl, and 3 sweet daughters-in-law, Chelsea, Janelle, and Emily. Neal preaches for the Lehman Ave. church of Christ in Bowling Green, KY. We love the Lord and His church!

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