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Running on Empty

Updated: Mar 15

I am ashamed to admit this, but I can be the worst about keeping my gas tank full or even at half full. And even when the gas light is flashing, and I see that I have 27 miles to go, I push it to the last few miles, saying to myself, "I don’t have time to pull over right now, I’ll get to it later.” I can remember my dad being in the car with me a few times when he saw the yellow gas tank indicator light on and he would say, “You better not run out of gas.” Why? Because depending on my location, if I am in bad traffic, and the time of day, particularly if it happens at night, I am putting myself in a very dangerous situation.

As it is with our lives, there are so many areas where we can find ourselves running on empty, feeling depleted, worn down, functioning on fumes, and often not even realizing it. Sure, there are periods in our lives where we are making sacrifices and of course it takes a little more out of us and sometimes a lot, but we should not live a life of feeling drained and overwhelmed. Often, we may resolve in our hearts that this is just a way of life, but more than we realize, we take on much more than we have been designed to do. One of the primary reasons that we find ourselves with ongoing exhaustion is our refusal to trust God with everything our day holds. Why? Because we must be in control! Well, let me speak for me. Oh! How guilty I have been of taking the day in my hands. Starting with my overflowing list of things to do. Determined to complete it at all costs, to later find that I could not do it all which frustrated me even the more.

The day-to-day business of life can take a toll on our bodies and minds. Family obligations and commitments to our spouses and children. Outside request. The disappointments of life. Failed relationships. Grief. The list is insurmountable. And if the truth be told, some of us wear proud badges of how we can take care of things on 2-4 hrs. of sleep not knowing what is going on within. Many of us can look good on the outside but must take the time to ask ourselves, “How am I really doing?”

So, what are some warning signs that we may be running on empty? Speaking from a personal perspective, for sure, the absence of joy. This is when you just can’t seem to get happy, particularly about things that you should be happy about. Or if you are, it's only short-lived. Also, in many instances there is little or no contentment. There are few things that will bring you satisfaction if anything. Another sign of running on empty is a heart filled with anxiety, worry and stress. This could be a clear sign for sure of running on empty and when we find ourselves in this position, often we are short-tempered, make impulsive decisions, and have little peace of mind.

Now that we see some causes of running on empty and warning signs, let's look at some vital ways that we can refuel. One of the most essentials of life is rest. It is not an option. We need rest to function and to focus, physically and spiritually. So often we have difficulty physically sleeping because we have not spiritually rested. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 127:2, It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep." God gives us physical and spiritual rest. Sadly, we often forfeit that time for futile things that generally takes away instead adding to our rest. Resting in the Lord is putting our total trust in Him, our worries, our fears, our cares and believing by faith that He is working those things out for our good and His glory. Matthew 11:28 says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. When we do this, it keeps us from worrying about tomorrow or the future which I tend to do, making everything urgent for today because I'm worried about what the next day will bring. Resting in Him is taking time to pray, it is our communication with our Heavenly Father, one on one, sharing our hearts. Though He already knows what we need, He wants to hear from us. When we meditate on His Word, we are resting in Him. “Proverbs 4:20-22 says, " My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. As we meditate on the Word, it speaks back to us, to our spirit, bringing insight, peace, and comfort to our lives.

Another way to refuel is to worship the Lord, regardless of the situation or problem you find yourself in. This isn't just an outward showing of lifting hands in church, but it is a heart to put God above everything in our lives, representing Him, rejoicing in Him in the good and the bad times (Romans 12:1-2). Why? Because we can trust that He is in control and able to direct us in the right direction, to the right sources, and supply all our needs.

We also need to forgive. I know it hurts and the pain can run deeper than anyone will ever know but the refusal to forgive could very well be the invisible culprit in many of our lives that is stealing our joy. We want to believe that we can move on with our lives and not be affected by it, but it does affect us, physically and spiritually. Unforgiveness produces sickness in our bodies and also bitterness, resentment and anger in our hearts (Ephesians 4:31,32). I agree, when someone hurts us badly, it can cut us to the core, but we must remember that we have sinned against God more than we have sinned against others and we stand in need of His help. He is waiting to hear our heart's cry. Let's put away our pride and let Him know how we feel so that we can get the help to forgive and heal.

Some added nuggets:

  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Do what you can do with what you have. Remember, everyone's situation is different.

  • It's ok to say no. You don't have to give a long explanation, just say, "I'm sorry, I won't be available and I'm not sure when I will be," or "I'm not able to take that on now, but I will let you know when I can." It frees us from feeling like we must be everything to everybody. Saying yes to everyone is not a balanced life. It's a life that will eventually crumble.

  • Start out early. Don’t live a life of rushing.

  • It's great to plan but if something doesn’t go as planned. It’s ok.

  • Ask for help when needed and receive help when offered.

  • Write things down. It helps me to prioritize what needs to be done for the day, remember those things I might forget and scratch those that can be done later.

When we are low on fuel it should always point to our need for Jesus, and we must acknowledge we can do nothing without Him. He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 Our strength is in Him, our peace is in Him, our joy is Him, our hope is in Him, we can’t do anything without Him! He is the well that never runs dry!

I would love to hear from you on this subject or anything that is on your heart. Contact me here. Can't wait to hear from you!

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