Running on Empty


You can only get so far when you are “running on empty.” But you can get up and go again once you refill. Keep going. Don’t quit. It gets better.

I’m one of those guys that never allows his gas tank to go under half full, but… Recently my son joined a “Blastball” league, and my desire to get home in time to play catch with my son while the sun is up caused me to skip a stop at the gas station. This morning on my way back to the office my dashboard started beeping at me, and then I realized… I’m running on empty!

Whenever we realize were running on empty there’s an unwritten rule that we can keep going a certain distance but eventually if we don’t take the time to stop and refuel, we’re going to end up as “That Guy” stuck on the side of the road with a stupid grin on his face while trying to call someone who will actually come bail him out. That stupid grin is there because clearly, when you run out of gas, it is always your own fault!

There is a life lesson here. People run out of gas too, for a lot of reasons. They don’t eat right, they don’t sleep, they are so worn out at work that their relationships with others suffer, and pretty soon their internal dashboard beeps and blinks to indicate that the “gas tank” is empty. We deceive ourselves when we think that our “physical” self can get run down but our emotional and spiritual parts will be just fine. We’re all one whole person; there aren’t a bunch of easily defined distinct parts! We can use terms like “emotional” and “physical to explain some things, but you’re you, and if you are worn out emotionally, you can’t get far. If you’re physically way out of shape and sleep deprived you’re doomed. If you feel spiritually hollow, disconnected from God, and completely indifferent or unable to read Scripture, you’re running on empty.

I won’t over-complicate this. Here is what you can do RIGHT NOW:

First, Fill your tank back up. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. If you were totally out of gas on the highway, you wouldn’t search all day for the lowest price to save two cents per gallon. You’ll pay whatever you have to to avoid being stuck somewhere. So do the same thing for your own life, for your family’s well being, and the benefit of those connected to you. Get enough sleep TONIGHT. Eat Healthy TODAY. Take a deep breath on whatever is beating you up emotionally and try to move on. I don’t want to make light of this: if you are battling something terrible that has happened to you and you feel helpless and hopeless, its time to talk to someone. Talk to a close friend, contact a trusted mentor, call a member of your family, make an appointment with someone from your church, or a church in your area. If you’re running on empty emotionally, it is ok to admit you’re not ok and ask someone for help. There’s someone who will help you out there!

Second, take today seriously enough to make tomorrow different. Explanations for “how we got here” are fine, but excuses are deadly. When I drove 1400 miles from Dallas, TX to Buffalo, NY I mapped out places to get gas, places to eat, and places to sleep. The plan changed as circumstances changed, but having a plan to begin with made the shift in circumstances MUCH easier. So plan ahead: spend 3 minutes right now to plan a healthy meal for breakfast/lunch/dinner TOMORROW. Set your bedtime tonight, set a time to get off Facebook Twitter/Email/Text messages/etc now and stick to it later so you can make time to hear what God has for you in the pages of the Bible. Don’t make excuses; make adjustments.

Finally, give yourself Grace. Jesus Himself has already extended Grace to you in every way imaginable. Don’t label yourself because you allowed yourself to get overloaded and overwhelmed. Don’t take on the opinions of others about who you are because your identity comes from what God says about you, not what everyone else says. Grace is what will enable you to have the nerve and the audacity to keep going and live better.

You can only get so far when you are “running on empty.” But you can get up and go again once you refill. Keep going. Don’t quit. It gets better.

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