I hate to admit this, but I am one of those women who runs out of gas in her vehicle somewhat regularly. It all began in high school, shortly after I got my driver's license. I was heading somewhere at night by myself, and all of a sudden, my car puttered to a stop. I couldn't figure out what had happened until I thought for a couple of minutes. Silly me! This was back in the days before everyone had a cell phone, but luckily I was stranded very close to a gas station. So I walked over to it, got some gas and headed home. I was a very responsible young lady, so I just knew this would never happen to me again. It wan't until I was in college that I again found myself puttering to a stop on the side of the road due to a lack of gasoline. This time I was a Senior in college at Stanford University! Educated people don't allow their cars to run out of gas, do they?? Even worse, this time I wasn't alone! I had been on a retreat with my church choir and I had an older woman with me who needed to leave early as well. We were just motoring along, deep in conversation, and all of a sudden the car was rolling to a stop and I knew immediately what had happened. I was so embarrassed!!! I can't remember how we got ourselves out of that one, but we did, and managed to get home safely. Several years later, when Todd and I had just moved to Texas with our sweet little family (two little girls at the time), and I was very pregnant with my third child, I was taking the girls to a doctor's appointment in this unfamiliar place that was full of frontage roads and other things foreign to me. This time I knew I had to get some gas or I was going to run out, but I just didn't know where the nearest gas station was. So we missed the doctor appointments and ended up stranded on fairly busy off-ramp on a major road. It was late April during an unusually hot Spring in Austin, TX. I still didn't own a cell phone, but God sent an angel to help me that day in the form of a man who not only helped us get more gas, but also stopped at a nearby Walmart and bought animal crackers and water bottles for the girls and for me. My mother-in-law asked me how I could be so irresponsible as pregnant as I was and with two little tiny girls, ages 2 and 1 in the car with me. I was so embarrassed and vowed that it would never happen again. Unfortunately, I am a very social person, and at times my running out of gas has been the result of allowing myself to become so immersed in a conversation while driving that I don't pay attention to the gas gauge on long trips. The next time (yes, it did happen again) that this happened to me was several years later when my 5th child was about 8 months old. I had driven with a dear friend to a moms' conference in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area. It was unusually cold that February, and it had snowed fairly heavily for Central Texas. My friend and I were deep in conversation, of course, when I suddenly realized that at the beginning of our trip home I had thought about our need to fill the car up once we got outside of the airport area. This was a new car for me (my dad's old car we had bought from him), and the gas light didn't work on this car (though I have been known to ignore the light). As we were passing an exit, I realized a moment too late that I should have taken that exit in order to get gas, because I didn't know when the next exit would be. To my horror, we sputtered to a stop right after my realization. We had a cell phone and called for help. We sat in the freezing car with my little baby, waiting for AAA to arrive. A police car came and sat behind us for protection as we waited. He let us take the baby and warm up in his heated patrol car until our help arrived! This time, I told my husband not to mention it to his mother!
I'd like to say that was the last time it ever happened, but it wasn't! Why haven't I learned my lesson? I am a responsible, educated person who manages a busy household of 9 children and several animals, and yet I still allow myself on occasion to run out of gas! It reminds me of my walk with God at times. There are days when I have felt too rushed or too busy or too engrossed in what is going on in my life to spend a significant amount of time with the Lord. I need to fill my tank every single day or I find that I am running on empty. In fact, this tank needs to be refilled with prayer during the days as well. If I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed or even if it's just something simple like misplaced keys or wallet, if I forget to turn to God first, my blood pressure is sure to rise, and my body will want to peter out and stop. Over the years, unlike my habit of running out of gasoline in my car, however, I have learned to fill my spiritual tank each day. My favorite time of day is in the early morning when I rise while my usually busy, noisy household is quiet, sleeping. The sun is still down, and the sky is dark. I light some candles, make a hot cup of coffee, grab my Bible and notebook, sometimes a devotional or encouraging book about my walk with God, and He meets me there. If I miss these times, I have to take a moment to quickly fill my cup with a prayer and some verses. I find that if I take that time to ask God to be my energy, my life, my love, my ALL,and to fill me with His Holy Spirit, I am never running on empty. That makes all the difference in the world as to how I see things, and what I allow to get under my skin and make me have a poor attitude. If I'm full of Him, I don't miss the little things He shows me throughout the day, the little ways He nudges me to show His glory to my children. HE is my life and unlike any gasoline in any car, this LIFE can overflow from me into the lives of those around me. I pray every day that this will be true of my life.
I am so excited to get a couple days' worth of filling my spiritual tank this weekend at the MomHeart conference (same one I had attended when we ran out of gas with my friend in the snow 8 years ago!). We all need to fill ourselves up, even when life is full! I'm sure I'll have lots of overflow at the end of the conference! I'll be sure to share.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."