Today, I tempted fate. My car was running on empty, and I tried to get to the office without stopping for gas. Then it happened, my car began to sputter. Why did I tempt my gas-deprived fate? It’s simple to answer. Refueling:
· takes effort
· is dirty and smelly
· wastes my precious time
As my car was slurping up the last drops of gasoline in the tank, I came to the conclusion that I had made a tremendous lapse in judgment. I guess filling my car up with gas is essential after all. Go figure! So, I did what any self-respected Christian guy would do, I began to pray. Of course, I should have been praying before this issue popped up, but I do this when I’m in trouble.
I prayed hard and with plenty of emotion. The Pope would have been proud of how I raised up my requests to God. I was in full begging and pleading mode.
“Lord, help me get to the gas station!” I yelled.
“Fill my gas tank like you filled those containers of wine at the wedding at Cana.”
Then my prayer moved from a place of pleading to a position of trying to manipulate Almighty God to move, “You can do it!” I’d yell. “You’re a big God. You can move mountains. You can certainly get me to my destination before I run out of gas!”
It was a ridiculous moment in my life. My prayer was just plain dumb. This running-out-of-gas driving fiasco was a low point in my not-so-mature faith. I was trying to place God into my fickle belief system, rubbing my immature spiritual lamp wishing for a miracle. Aladdin would have been proud.
The truth be told, I wouldn’t have been in this shallow prayer frenzy if I had stopped at a gas station the night before. Isn’t it incredible how clearly we see things after we should have done them?
Amazingly, I made it to my destination; a gas station. Listen to how much a tempted fate, I pumped nineteen-point-nine gallons of that precious gasoline into my twenty-gallon tank. Talk about pushing the limits!
My running-on-empty story is a microcosm of too many of my days. You may have too many of these faithless days also. Often, I try to live my life traveling as fast and as far as I can without refueling with God. On those days, I tell myself, “I’m too busy to read the Bible, to give thanks, and to pray.” Then I wonder why I’m feeling tired, overloaded, worried, and stressed. It’s simple, I’m running on empty. No fuel.
Most of the time, I’m running on a full tank. I wake up early to spend time in the Bible, pray, and give thanks to God. And even though I’m confronted with the inevitable sharp turns, steep hills, stop signs, cut-offs, and merges of everyday life, amazingly, I don’t get overwhelmed. Inconceivable! When I rely on God, with a full tank, I’m fulfilled, peaceful, and ready to take on the chaos of the day. When I test fate and try to run on empty the chaos of the day overwhelms me typically.
So what can you and I learn from my running-on-empty experience? I believe there are two critical lessons. First, always make sure to fill your car with gas before running on fumes. It’s less stressful. Second, always fill your emotional and spiritual tank with God’s word (Joshua 1:8), prayer (1 Thessalonian 5:17), and thanksgiving (Psalm 136). It’s more peaceful. This is a no-brainer!
Hopefully, I will see you on the road of faith, driving hard and fast with a full tank and not on the side of the road because you were running on empty far too long.
David Towner is the author of Today Is My Favorite Day and the Pastor of The Harbor Church in Odessa, Fl. He is married to Tonya and together they have three daughters and four grandsons.