Tuesday, July 28, 2015

30 Miles to Empty - Devotional - July 28, 2015

“I will refresh the weary.” Jeremiah 31:25

The soft chime jarred me out of a trance like an alarm clock.  I looked up.  The light was still red at the intersection, but it felt like hours has passed. 
The soft chime rang again and I looked over at my dashboard. “30 miles to empty...” the display flashed near my fuel gauge.I tilted my head curiously and stared at the cautionary signal.A finite time existed before my tank would be completely empty.  Thirty miles and my car’s fuel source would run dry.  I had depleted what was once full and now my car was warning me…“I need to be filled again.”

My thoughts shifted to my own “fuel tank”.  As I took inventory, there was no doubt about it, the recent chain of events in life had left me physically, spiritually, and mentally drained. 
When the light turned green I proceeded down the road to find a gas station.  The familiar chime rang again.

“17 miles to empty…”

“Tell me about…” I mumbled wearily as I pulled into the gas station, turned off my car, and laid my head back on the headrest. 

There’s a woman in the bible named Naomi, who can relate to an empty tank.  Naomi’s journey was one tribulation after another.  Famine pushed her away from home.  Then, in a tragic turn of events she buried her husband and two sons.  Shattered and mourning, Naomi returns to her homeland and sadly informs her friends, “I left here full, but the Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:21).  Naomi goes as far as to change her name from Naomi (in Hebrew translates into “sweet”) to Mara (which translates into “bitter). 
Have you ever reached that point?  A place where you feel that there’s nothing left but fumes in your tank?  Where the joy and the peace that you once experienced seem like a distant memory?  Where your dance of praise becomes weighed down by the cares of this world?

Where you have a 400-mile journey ahead and the display blinks “30 miles to empty…”?
We all have reached this point. And, as I laid back on my headrest and closed my eyes I realized that I was indeed running on empty.  But, unlike my car, my body doesn’t ring a cute, gentle chime.  I wish it did!  My empty displays an irritable, frustrated, withdrawn disposition. Admittedly, the very opposite of cute and gentle. 
So what are we to do in these moments?  When our personal fuel tank is low?

Keep your tank full.  I always find it interesting that we allow our car’s gas tank to get so low.  The gauge is on full display at all times.  We can pass countless gas stations on any given day.  Yet, it’s not until we get a warning that we feel the urgency to fill the tank. 
Well, that’s how we treat ourselves spiritually at times.  But is that really how it’s meant to be?  We spend time with God and walk away feeling full.  Then we start to take back the steering wheel of our lives. 
Thanks for the boost God, I’ll take it from here!

Then we drive down the path of our choosing until that all too familiar warning brings us back to our fueling station.
But what does the scripture tell us? 
Those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31
Hmmm. Waiting on the Lord = Finding new strength.Waiting on the Lord = Soaring like eagles.Waiting on the Lord = Not growing weary.Waiting on the Lord = Not fainting.
That sounds like full-tank living!  And full-tank living comes from a heart that is firmly placed in a posture of surrender.  Full-tank living is rooted in a confidence that God will do what He says He will do.
When we jump over to our own agenda and our own way of doing things, we cut ourselves off from God.  We cut ourselves off from the source of eternal, living water (John 4:14).  Before you know it, you’re making wrong choices; acting out of character; losing sleep; easily flustered.  The list could go on…

Through prayer and obedience, reading God’s word, serving others, and staying connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ we keep our tank topped off.  This is the abundant, full-tank life that God wants for us.
Find your fueling station.  Despite our best efforts, we all know moments come where – for whatever reason – our tank becomes low.  We look in the mirror and like Naomi we feel empty. 

First let me pause here, because I feel it important to clarify…

Many treat weariness like a weakness.  They beat themselves up for reaching the end of their rope and they go in two very wrong directions.  Some fear the vulnerability. So they push even harder. They dig in their heels and slam on the gas until burn out sets in and they’re hitching a ride on the side of the road.
Others fall into utter hopelessness.  They slam on the break, pull off to the side of the road, and are paralyzed by feelings of dejection and despair.  

The result of both of these is still the same.  Emptiness.
Hear me when I tell you this.  It is NOT a failure to say, “God I can’t, but you can.”

You are not weak when you “cast all your cares upon Him [God].” (1 Peter 5:7)
In fact, that is EXACTLY where God wants us.

And fortunately for us, we don’t have to drive far to find our fueling station.  We simply need to fall to our knees.
While there, we will find a friend.  He is called the Holy Spirit, and he longs to fill you up again.

So what do you need to be filled with?  Our fueling station, the Holy Spirit is here to offer you:
The Oil of Gladness (Hebrews 1:9); Rivers of Living Water (John 7:38); Knowledge and Understanding (Isaiah. 11:2); Life (Romans 8:2); Love, Power, and Sound Mind (2 Timothy. 1:7); Truth (John 14:17); and Wisdom (Exod. 28:3; Deut. 34:9); Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Faith (Galatians 5:22).

Beloved, Child of God, you were never built to run on empty. 
And, if you’re reading this at a moment of weariness, consider this a gentle chime from the God who loves you and wants to offer to fill you up again.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Let’s pray
Lord, I must admit that I am weary.  At times, weary to the point of tears, and past them.  And yet I know that you have known weariness beyond what I can imagine because you once carried my cross up to Calvary.  And I’m reminded that the weariness I feel is not mine to carry.  Your word says in Matthew 11:30 that your yolk is easy and your burden is light.  God help me to give all my burdens all over to You.  Fill me up with your promises and your truth.  Restore the joy of my salvation and sustain me in a willing spirit (Psalm 51:12). In Jesus Name. Amen.

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