Running on Empty

running on emptyI have a friend who is a pastor. He’s a good guy, but he has a problem. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, but I’m convinced it’s a psychological disorder. You see, like Kramer on Seinfeld, my pastor friend feels a pathological need to see how far he can drive after the gas gauge reads empty.

He doesn’t just wait until the warning light comes on. He doesn’t just wait until the needle points directly at E. He waits until the needle is well below the E. He wants to see how far he can really go. And then when he gets there, he takes a picture of the gas gauge and posts it on Facebook.

Like I said, he has a problem. Sometimes I picture him driving down the road with a crazed look on his face, singing the old Jackson Browne song “Runnin’ on Empty.”

Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty? You’re tired. Maybe you don’t sleep well at night. You’re frazzled, dealing with stress from your job or your marriage or your kids. You’re depressed because everything seems to be going wrong in your life. You’re running on empty. You’re on the edge. You’re just two drops away from running out of gas and breaking down on the highway of life.

That’s how the Prophet Elijah felt. If you have a chance this week, read Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 17-19. Elijah felt alone and afraid. Most of God’s people had rejected the true God to follow the false god Baal. Wicked King Ahab and wicked Queen Jezebel were out to kill him. Elijah felt forced to flee. He ran for days until he came to the mountain of God, Mt. Sinai, several hundreds of miles away.

There God came to Elijah in a gentle whisper. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God asked.

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty,” Elijah replied. “The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars and put your prophets to death… I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too.”

They say that when you stick your nose in limburger cheese, the whole world stinks. That was Elijah’s problem. He was tired and worn out. In his mind, all was lost. He was all alone. He was the only believer left.

Elijah felt sorry for himself.

So God came to him in a gentle whisper to remind him of the truth. Elijah wasn’t all alone. God had reserved 7,000 true believers who hadn’t bowed down to Baal. He was going to send another prophet named Elisha to help him. He would get rid of wicked King Ahab and wicked Queen Jezebel. God was in control. Everything would be okay.

Refueled by God’s promises, Elijah got back to work.

Are you tired, stressed and frazzled? Have you dug yourself into a pit of self-pity? That means you’re probably running on empty. You need to refuel.

You need to hear the gentle whisper of God’s promises. As we quietly sit and hear his Word, he reminds us that we are not alone. He reminds us that he is in control and will work all things for our good.

He whispers to us words of forgiveness. Because Jesus died your death, you don’t have to carry around the guilt and regret that keep you up at night. You are completely forgiven forever – even for the sin of feeling sorry for yourself. You are going to live forever in the happiness of heaven where there is no more stress or worry. God is going to be with. He will get you through this. It’s going to be okay.

When you’re running on empty, open up your Bible and listen carefully to the gentle whisper of God’s promises.

When you’re running on empty, that’s how God refuels you.



  3 comments for “Running on Empty

  1. John J Flanagan
    August 20, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Your pastor friend should be reminded that when he lets his gas tank run down to near empty he will be ruining his engine and will allow the sediment and gunk at the bottom of his tank to effect his fuel jets. He should, by God’s corrective discipline, be allowed to run out of gas one rainy day in which he forgot his cell phone. This should occur on a lonely stretch of highway 5 miles from his home. The walk back home in the rain should do him some spiritual good. God’s children are blessed with salvation and many other gifts, but this pastor needs the gift of common sense as well.

    • Wally Schiller
      August 20, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      I am not “the” pastor referred to here, but . . . I could be described in the same way. However, I am not obsessive about it, but what I do is when I get a new car, I literally do this and actually let it run out – with a jerry can in the boot, of course! In that way, I know my limits. At times I also do it in order to monitor the fule usage.
      As for the matter that John raises about ruining the engine, well, the fuel is extracted from the tank from the very bottom all the time, so that any sediment will flow through at any time – long before it is empty. That’s why there is a filter.
      However, if I carry on like this, i will spoil the point of this article – a very timely point for all, pastors or not. The need to refuel on a regular basis is absolutely essential – and here too I have been guilty at times of running on empty, or near empty.

  2. Kenneth
    August 20, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks for reminder. To stop and focus on Christ and to give a shout out of hurray for happiness in heaven.

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