Running on Empty?

The man arrived at the Denver airport late at night, tired and ready to be home in his own bed. It was an hour’s drive through a desolate stretch of Northern Colorado. Not far into the trip a blinking light on the dashboard signaled a problem – his car was almost out of fuel! Familiar with the road, he knew that gas was 20 miles away.  He felt the tension increase as he drove in every way he knew how to conserve fuel. Finally he coasted into the station, the car running on fumes. 

He realized that his hands tightly gripping the steering wheel were sweaty. His shoulder muscles were in knots. As the fuel flowed, he relaxed. When he got back into his car he heard his favorite music, music he hadn’t heard in the last 20 miles!  He looked up and around – to see bright moonlight reflecting off the snow caps of the Rocky Mountains just to the west.  A powerful lesson settled over him in those midnight moments – he had been so engulfed by the fear of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere, he had become deaf and blind to the beauty that surrounded him!  (as told by Dary Northrop)

I love that story that I heard a fellow pastor tell at a conference a few years ago. It came back to me as I thought about the world we are currently living in. IF we lower our sights to the crisis of the moment and listen to the noise of the voices telling that hope is nearly gone, we will most certainly lose sight of the beauty that remains; friends that love, the people who are working hard along side of us, the faithfulness of our God.

Jesus, the perfect God-Man, knew the temptation of the urgent which attempted to block engagement with the important. What did He do? He regularly took time to retreat, to pray, to be with His Father. Can we do anything less?

Christian, we must not allow ourselves to run on empty. If we do, the fears, the tension, the anger so prevalent in the world around us will overwhelm us.  God has prepared renewal and refreshment for us. The words that the Lord spoke to Isaiah are not just poetry. “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.” (Isaiah 44:3-4, NIV)  

Here is an invitation – “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2, NIV)

I write these words with tears in my eyes, sorrow for my own failures to take His grace and live in the flow of the Spirit and so sad for the millions of Christians who are losing sight of the goodness of the Lord in these troubled times. Let’s remember that whenever we take life into our own hands, when we do not balance work and worship, when we let ourselves be tricked into thinking “I have to do something, anything, right now, or all is lost,” we will become empty and desperate. The songs around us will go unheard; the beauty of His blessings unseen. With Israel’s ancient pilgrims, let’s pray: “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” (Psalm 121:1-2, NLT)

Are you running on empty? Do what seems impossible- Stop! Wait! Look up!

Pray, perhaps simple sentence prayers, “Lord, show me the way.” “Jesus, be my peace.” “Father, give me vision.”

Worship. Last night, feeling tense after a long meeting, I stood in the darkness on my front porch and listened to the night sounds of the woods. I took in the night sky and in those moments, I felt small, yet renewed in the wonder that the God of Creation knew MY name, MY needs.

Sabbath. God wove a principle of rest into His plan.  In Genesis, we are told that “He rested on the 7th day.”  He concluded that His work was complete. We, too, need to take time, not just to play, but to pause the ordinary activities in order to give ourselves to those spiritual things that complete us.

Running on empty? Lost sight of the goodness of life?  Here is a word from the Word.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NLT)  There is no need to run on empty because God promises Christians the fullness of the Spirit.  “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.” (Ephesians 5:15-19, NLT)  In that fullness, desperation will be replaced with “life… more abundantly.” (John 10:10, KJV)


Take a few moments, right now, to pause.
Let this song lift you to worship!  The song is performed by
Heavens Mutambira & Amplified Praise

Holy Spirit (a beautiful song, a confession of our need)

There’s nothing worth more that will ever come close
No thing can compare You’re our living hope
Your Presence
I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
In Your Presence Lord

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence Lord
Your Presence Lord

Your Presence
Oh God how we love Your Presence Lord
Let us become more aware of Your Presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness (Lord)

Bryan Torwalt | Katie Torwalt © 2011 Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Jesus Culture Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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