Running On Empty

Whose responsibility is it to fill up your tank?

This past Mother’s Day started off like every other Mother’s Day. We woke up, went to church and decided to go out to eat afterward. We got all of the kids in the car and on our way to Raleigh, which is about a 30-minute drive, I noticed we would need to get gas soon. We only had 60 miles until the tank was empty. Typically, I would pull over and get gas, but to be honest, we were all hungry, and I didn’t feel like stopping so I decided I would fill it up later after lunch.

Well, we had lunch, and then we drove to get some ice cream, and then we checked out a new to us coffee shop in Durham, and then we started our way back home. The next thing I know, I am on the interstate driving like usual and my gas pedal stops working… I am pushing it, and nothing is happening, and that is when I realized my gas tank was empty. It’s 95 degrees outside, I have three kids in the car and their beautiful mother, and we are stuck on the side of the road with no air conditioning, just waiting for Geico roadside service to come save the day. After sitting there for a little more than an hour, he finally makes it to us and puts enough gas in the car for us to get to a gas station a few miles away.

Before I get into some thoughts from this experience, I would like to brag on my wife! It’s mother’s day, and we are stuck with no AC on the side of the road, and she is just laughing trying to help keep the kids having fun and distracted from the heat and lack of entertainment. Even when our oldest begins to ask me why I let the car run out of gas, Megan jumps to my defense and says it’s not his fault! That was super nice of her to defend me, but we all know it was my fault!

This experience did highlight for me a few things when it comes to our spiritual lives that I think it is important for us all to note.

  1. I was in the driver’s seat. I noticed earlier in the day that the car was close to empty. I chose to wait to put more fuel in the car. And the moment I ran out of gas I wasn’t close enough to a gas station to coast in next to a pump to fill up. Our spiritual lives are similar to this. How often do we wait to spend time with God, or to pray, or to “refuel” because we think we can do it later. If I filled my car up daily, I wouldn’t have to ever worry about running out of gas. In the same way, if I filled my spiritual tank up every day, I wouldn’t have to run the risk of running out of gas on my spiritual journey with God.
  2. I am super thankful I had roadside assistance with my insurance, but I am going to be honest, they estimated it would take the person 30 minutes to get to me… it took him over an hour! He called me a couple times to confirm my location and to make sure he didn’t pass us and I was frustrated! I didn’t like the route he took to get to us. I didn’t like the fact that he took longer than the original estimated time. I was short with him on the phone, and I am sure he heard my frustration. However… It was me who ran out of gas and it was him who was coming to help. When our spiritual tanks are empty, it is easy to get frustrated and short with the people around us and those closest to us, but it is important to remember that it is not anyone else’s fault that your tank is empty! I have heard many people say that they need to find a new church because they aren’t “being fed” at theirs… this is an odd statement. Newborn babies are fed, but children as young as one year old begin to demand to hold the spoon themselves and to feed themselves because they want to. By the time a child is just a couple years old, they feed themselves pretty much every meal. As a grown adult we prepare our meals and feed ourselves daily. The only person who carries the responsibility to make sure your tank is full is you!
  3. When the guy with the gas finally showed up, as I was getting out of the car to meet him, my wife reminds me to be nice. She could hear the frustration in my voice and could see how bad I felt for making her spend part of her mother’s day on the side of the road, but as I said earlier, she was positive the whole time and didn’t make me feel bad about it at all. It is important to have the right people in the car with you. If she had been mad, my frustration would have increased. I am sure it would have been the worst hour of the day, and we would still be frustrated about it today, but that wasn’t our story. It was just another adventure! Make sure your life is surrounded by the right people. They won’t carry the responsibility of keeping your tank full, but if you get to a low point, you need people around you to pull you up, and not push you further down.
  4. Five miles from our location where we stalled was a gas station, and this is the gas station we stopped at to fill the tank up. He put about 2 gallons of gas in the car, which honestly would have got me back home, but I did not delay to fill the car back up. I didn’t look at my wife and say that the little amount we got was enough to get us to where we were going, but instead, I pulled over and filled the tank back up and bought donuts, chips, waters, and candy for everyone in the car. Trying to get home on the small amount of gas that was brought to us is the equivalent of only praying when we need something, or only going to church once a month because that is “enough,” or turning on worship music in hopes that it will make us feel better. What if we stopped doing the bare minimum to get by in our spiritual life and instead started investing time into it daily. I am sure not only would our walk with God change, but this would bleed into everything we do.

So fill your tank today, and tomorrow, and the day after. Fill it with reading the Word of God and praying and worshiping. Fill it with being kind to others, with serving your community, with loving your spouse. Fill it with the words of God… not only in sound, but in action.

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