Have you ever run our of gas?
You’re out for a Sunday drive enjoying the countryside on a beautiful sunshiny summer day the sky is blue the wild flowers are in bloom. Off in the distance you can see a few deer grazing in a pasture. Thinking to yourself God is in heaven and all is right with the world when suddenly CHUG! CHUG! The motor goes dead. After several attempts to bring it back to life you throw a quick glance at the dashboard then suddenly the gas gauge swells ten times its size and staring you right in the face is a big E which we all know stands for empty!
I can honestly say that has never happened to me. If my memory serves me right the only time I’ve ever run out of gas I was within hose distance of the gas pump. My wife and two boys were on our way home from a check up at a hospital in Detroit and I knew we needed gas so I pulled off I-94 and just as I was pulling up to the pump when the car quit. I’d like to say luck with us but luck didn’t have anything to do with it while the car was running on E we were running on J!
While the car was on EMPTY – we were on JESUS!
How about you? Are you running on E spiritually?
Elijah the Prophet had such an experience!
“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, including a detailed account of how he killed all the prophets with the sword. Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah with this warning, “May the gods judge me severely if by this time tomorrow I do not take your life as you did theirs!” Elijah was afraid, so he got up and fled for his life to Beer Sheba in Judah. He left his servant there, while he went a day’s journey into the desert. He went and sat down under a shrub and asked the LORD to take his life: “I’ve had enough! Now, O LORD, take my life. After all, I’m no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:1-4 NET)
These are Elijah’s words, “I’ve had enough! Now, O LORD, take my life…”
These are my words, “I’ve run out of gas O LORD! I think I’ve fought a good fight at least I’ve done my best as carrying my share! But it wasn’t enough and now I am empty sitting along the side of life’s road and I can’t go any further! I’m bone tired, tank as dry as a bone, and I can’t go any further!”
I have discovered by trial and ERROR that even God-believing-Jesus-following-touched-by-the-Spirit Christians run out of spiritual gas. If Elijah were alive today he’d agree with me as the scriptures testify. Is it okay to run out of spiritual gas? Didn’t Jesus say things like, “I am with you always,” or “I will not leave you alone but will send the Comforter to live in you”? Shouldn’t God-believing-Jesus-following-touched-by-the-Spirit Christians never run out of spiritual gas?
No. Yes. Yes.
No, it not okay for a God-believing-Jesus-following-touched-by-the-Spirit Christian to run out of spiritual gas.
Yes, Jesus is with us and yes the Comforter has taken up residence in us.
Yes, because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit our spiritual fuel tanks should always be filled.
But in spite of what should happen quite often what shouldn’t happen does happen! And as I sit here watching these words appear on the screen of my laptop I am out of gas. In fact that is what prompted me to write this because I know I am probably not the only one sitting alongside the road out of gas.
When that first happened (when it always happens) one of the first things that rifle through my mind is guilt, “Gary,” I begin my conversation with myself, “you are a Christian, Jesus has blessed you with the Holy Spirit and here you are dishonoring him.” Sometimes I am a little more blunt than that but you get the idea. Then after knocking myself around for awhile and digging myself into a hole I usually end up saying to myself, “Well, Gary I guess that makes you a sinner, but then aren’t we all?”
David, the Psalmist too experienced an empty spiritual fuel tank.
“As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God! I thirst for God, for the living God. I say, “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?” I cannot eat, I weep day and night; all day long they say to me, “Where is your God?” I will remember and weep! For I was once walking along with the great throng to the temple of God, shouting and giving thanks along with the crowd as we celebrated the holy festival. Why are you depressed, O my soul? Why are you upset? Wait for God! For I will again give thanks to my God for his saving intervention.” (Psalms 42:1-5 NET)
In his book “The Treasury of David” Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes of Psalms 42. “It (Psalm 42) is the cry of a man far removed from the outward ordinances and worship of God, sighing for the long-loved house of his God; and at the same time it is the voice of a spiritual believer, under depressions, longing for the renewal of the divine presence, struggling with doubts and fears, but yet holding his ground by faith in the living God. Most of the Lord’s family have sailed on the sea which is here so graphically described. It is probable that David’s flight from Absolom may have been the occasion for composing this Maschil.”
David knew God. David slew Goliath by the strength of God. David a King anointed by God. David the Psalmist one of the greatest song writers of all time. David blessed and blessed by God ran out of gas!
Elijah ran out of spiritual fuel. King David ran out of spiritual fuel. Peter, who walked on water ran out of spiritual fuel and sank. If you ask me those of us who run out of spiritual fuel are in good company!
In verse 5 David wrote, “Wait for God!” Not only would David wait for God so did Elijah and Peter. Elijah waited much longer than Peter. Sometimes the Lord refuels us instantaneously and other times it is delayed but it is always done within the Lord’s plan not ours.
Elijah, David, and Peter all had one thing in common – each of them had their belief in God – each of them knew God would not leave them fuel-less. Elijah prayed! David wrote! Peter reached!
In the 15th chapter of John Jesus teaches the disciples:
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me — and I in him — bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.” (John 15:1-5 NET)
Even though Elijah and David lived years before Jesus’ birth their prophetic knowledge of his eventual birth provided them along with Peter something and someone they could cling to. Therefore – Elijah not only prayed he clung – David not only wrote he clung – Peter not only reached he clung – each of them clung not to their own fuel supply but the fuel supply of the Son of God!
Quite a number of years ago I had purchased a used Ford Camper Special pickup truck. On the floor between the drivers seat and the drivers door was a valve that switched fuel tanks. When we give our lives to Jesus we undergo a period of divine upgrading and included in our upgrade is the addition of a divine fuel tank, a tank constantly refilled when used by the Holy Spirit when. So when our lives sputter and our spirits read “E” all we need to do is to reach down and switch tanks and keep moving.
I know the following verse is very familiar to you and you will recognize it instantly but you’ve never read it this way before. The bible calls it an invitation but it is that and much more because it is a promise. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, running on fumes, and I will give you rest and will fill your tanks with the ministries of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 11:28 NET, Italics are mine)
Believe it! Experience it!
Grace and PEACE!
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, HCSB)
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“Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright © 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org. All rights reserved.”
Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.