Monday, August 13, 2018

Running On Empty - Part II


It is very embarrassing to run out of gas, isn’t it? Those that have had this experience can testify. The interesting thing is that it is a more common phenomenon than you would ordinarily expect. We spend a lot of time and energy focusing on avoiding other serious car problems, while not paying attention to something as simple as fueling up. It should be basic, but our generation doesn’t pay attention to the basics, or do we?

In my last post, I started sharing about the reasons why people run out of gas – drawing and analogy between running out of gas in your car, and running out of gas in every aspect of your life – spiritually, mentally, financially, martially and otherwise. I encourage you to read the details of the 1st four reasons that we discussed, and then I will share a few more.

1.       Not Starting Out with a Full Tank
2.       Being too busy to pause and refill.
3.       Unaware of hidden leaks that drains the tank.
4.       Ignoring the manufacturer’s manual and pushing farther than design.

5.       Being Distracted and not paying attention to the gauges

This is also a common reason why people run out of gas. Sometimes, you are distracted by other things and other priorities, and you take your eye off the gauge.  Even though the gauge is already showing warning signs, you are oblivious to it. You are not paying attention to these signals as you haven’t even noticed them in the 1st place. There are loads of signals that God has placed at our disposal to know when you need to refuel. Do you know that lack of sleep/ insomnia could be a signal that something is wrong somewhere? Irritability is for sure a signal that you are approaching a “red” emotionally. Debt is a subtle signal that you might need to refuel financially. Short temper, especially with your spouse is a signal that a refill is needed. Pain is a signal – a warning that somethings needs correction. Don’t be too distracted to pay attention to these signals.

6.       Being Overloaded – carrying too much weight.

Do you know that a car consumes more gas when it carries heavier weight than normal? The same is true about you. You need to evaluate your loads and your limits as soon as possible. You might be running on empty because you are carrying too much load than necessary.

I realized a couple of years ago that I cannot meet everyone’s needs. My name is not, and will never be “Elshaddai”! Only God is. While I try to help as many people as possible, I am careful not to take on too much load than I can bear. And you should too. I know a couple of marriages running on empty because each of the spouse is carrying too much load from family. People are sending their kids to schools that they cannot afford, and this puts financial load on them. Pay attention to your load, and if your feel overloaded, you need to shed some loads off you as soon as possible.

7.       Rapid Acceleration

Acceleration is great, but sudden/rapid acceleration can cause you to burn more gas than necessary. Have you noticed anyone by the traffic light revving their car engines while waiting for the light to turn green? What went through your mind when that happens? He/ She is burning gas without much motion to show for it. Right?

There is heavy pressure in our world – pressure to do it NOW! It is the world of instants – instant coffee, instant success, instant money, instant marriages, instant communication etc. With this pressure comes the perceived need to accelerate. Sometimes, it is important to stay still, to stay calm and to be at rest. In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious than paying attention. In an age of constant movement, nothing is as urgent as staying still. Think about that.

8.       Having No Margin

The last time I almost ran out of gas in my car, I believe it was because I didn’t have any margin. Let me explain. I was driving with my wife for a program and we left home a little later than planned (please don’t ask me why). So, we had “just enough” time to make it on time for the program. I noticed that we were low on gas, but I was in a hurry and I planned to refill when we were close to the venue of the program. I had it all figured out. The only problem was that I didn’t build any margin/ buffer. Life being life, we ran into traffic and then the gauge went on “red”! I’d let you imagine the rest.

The point I am trying to make here is this – you need to build margins in every aspect of your life. Some of you need financial margins. Today you are living from one paycheck to another, without any savings! You are living on the edge my friend. When unplanned events happen, you will run out of gas. When was the last time you spent quality time with your spouse, away from any form of distraction (legitimate or otherwise), and filling his/her emotional tank? Any wonder that tiny issues suddenly become mountains?

Margin is the difference between your load and your limits. It is therefore very straightforward to say that there are 2 ways to create more margin for yourself – it is either you reduce your load or you develop your limits. I will leave this discussion till another time.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mathew 11:28-30 MSG
So, where are you dear friend? How close are you to running on empty? Or have you been on empty for a while now? What is draining you? What is distracting you from the things that matter? Are you even too busy to care? I suggest you start by getting a refill – and what better place to do that than spending time in God’s presence. He will fill you up. He will give you grace to flow in the unforced rhythms of grace. May you find rest!