Summer of my sophomore year in college Dad helped me buy a ’69 Chevelle. Yea, a large block 350 with a Muncie shift, mag wheels and duel exhaust dressed in red with a soft white leather interior. Deal was I’d stop using his car and his gas. Insurance and all the other stuff would be mine too. No big. So I thought.
I discovered very quickly why it was called a “muscle car.” On good days it got about 14 miles to the gallon. Didn’t help I didn’t have much money so you can guess how much gas I kept in the tank—call it fumes.
One day, while in a hurry to get to a supply store to pick up a tractor part Dad used my car rather than his because his car was out of gas. Problem was, so was mine but he never checked the gas gauge. And the two-mile walk back home didn't soften him up a bit before confronting me about his most excellent adventure.
That story is what came to mind this morning during our pastor’s message titled: “Pressure – Exhausted and Overwhelmed"; a universal feeling of running on empty and the behaviors that follow like, resentment, overspending, withdraw, working longer and harder and being easily irritated. This condition also negatively impacts others and just complicates life. I mean, I lost an opportunity to help out my Dad in his moment of need and only complicated things because the gas tank in my car was empty.
Singer songwriter Jackson Browne wrote about this condition back in his day with a song he titled: “Running on Empty.”
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too
Running on-running on empty
Running on-running blind
Running on-running into the sun
But I'm running behind
It’s cool to think God has a better way to do life. In fact, the story of Mary and Martha in the book of Luke, chapter 10, tells of this better way as explained by David Ashcraft. Jesus basically told Martha to unplug and sit down and talk, (like Mary was doing) instead of hurrying about in the kitchen getting dinner on. The fundamental thing He was looking for in stopping by was relationship—friendship. It's what most of us really want isn't it?
Yes it’s hard to live a life of fullness while living so empty. But it’s a good exercise to imagine what a full life looks like; a life when it’s filled up. Things like, “I love more,” “I make better decisions,” “I’m more creative,” and “I’m more attentive to God.”
Sure it’s somewhat simplistic to just say sit down, take a load off and let’s talk. But it is a start. And what works when life doesn’t always begins with a start; a start in accepting and taking responsibility for the things we can control.
What's the gauge on your gas tank reading? Fumes or Full? Time for a crucial conversation focused on this essential question?