The hefty V6 engine rumbled, then sputtered to a stop just before the intersection. Turning the key in the ignition didn’t help; the ‘ole, cherry red, beater truck was deader’n a doornail. Just shy of the the school drop-off zone, cute young moms in minivans were revving up for the day. The fuel gauge on Ole’ Red read “E”.
Pressing the hazard button and cranking the handle on the vintage 1991 Dakota, I stuck my hand out of the window and signaled the growing line behind me to pass. Click*Click*Click*Click went the blinkers. Shifting into neutral, I opened the door and started to push, rolling the car forward slowly. I didn’t get that truck going very far or very fast by myself.
Clearly, I was struggling.
The previous month had passed like a hurricane leaving all sorts of debris in its wake on the home front, in my spiritual life, and church side as well. I had sprinted through it without rest or refilling.
As I rolled to that intersection by Madison Elementary, there was despair in my mind and heart. I wasn’t sure I could keep going; in fact, I knew I couldn’t. To compound it, the enemy was whispering sweet lies in my ear.
#helpless #useless #darknessiswinning #nothingwillevergetbetter #hopeless #whybother?
Honestly, I was feeling sorry for myself.
I was tired – too tired – to resist these overwhelming, sounds-like-truth-in-the-moment notions. Had you read my spiritual gas tank, you would have seen it on Empty, too.
There were a whole list of mistakes I made that led up to the “E” moment. For one, I kept sprinting without refilling, without going back to my Source. I was trying to do life and ministry in my own strength instead of in the Spirit.
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31 NASB)
Here’s a eye opener: Our strength runs out; we grow weak and weary sprinting so long.
Moment of Transparency: I wasn’t waiting for the LORD, I was just reacting. Why? That’s simple: There were things I had neglected.
I had neglected to guard my personal study time with the Lord. I had neglected taking time for prayer and allowing for a margin of silence to listen to Him. I had neglected to guard my sleep and good nutrition and all of it left me depleted spiritually, emotionally and physically. For all the energy of the Holy Spirit that can work so powerfully inside each of us, my strength was sputtering on fumes. That’s when the enemy strikes hardest.
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable. (“impossible to understand or interpret”)
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
(Isaiah 40:28-29, NASB)
So there I was at the intersection, jolted out of my doomsday, pity-party thoughts into my present circumstance; I had run out of gas, literally and figuratively. God sometimes has to jerk my chain hard to get my attention…know what I mean?
As I begin pushing a ton of American steel forward by myself, knowing I couldn’t possibly get across the expanse in time to NOT be a traffic hazard, help came. From a distance, an older lady called out to me.
“You need help?” she called across traffic. “Get in the truck; my son will help you!”
A young man, twenty-something, jumped out and ran across traffic – my Knight in Shining Armor! (Well, more like my Millennial in Tennis Shoes and a Zippy.)
As we began to push together, we slowly rolled the truck through the intersection; I steered into a safer space where I could park and call for help. Turning to thank the young man, he had already hopped back into his mother’s car when she asked if I needed a ride anywhere. I told her my husband would come with some gas in a bit but that I was so thankful for her and her son getting me out of my automotive pickle.
As I shook his hand with a profusion of thanks, the young man stammered “Y-y-you’re welcome” and I realized he must have a serious learning disability. As I looked into his eyes, he looked as innocent as a child. This is the moment I was humbled to tears.
This is the precious one God sent to me in my struggles, to pull me out of my endless mind games and pride, to aid me and alter my perspective, to show me Christ’s love and, by his actions, speak His truth.
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (1 John 3:18-19, NASB)
This young man, this man-child, loved in deed and truth.
What a fool I had been. Perhaps if I just do what God tells me and live as His Word instructs, I won’t find myself on Empty at the crossroads.
God, You are so merciful! Thank You for always being faithful and willing to teach me. Lord, forgive me! I fell into the temptation of neglecting my body and Spirit which led to me believing the enemy’s lies; my flesh is so weak sometimes. I pray abundant blessings upon the family who was willing to serve me, a complete stranger. Help me to guard my faith and testimony in You, Jesus, and trust in Your great plan, even when it seems its at its darkest hour. Let me remember the Cross but praise Christ’s Resurrection. Amen.