The classic rock song, ”Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne, was written as a result of his daily grind and daily commute to a music studio when he was recording his hit album The Pretender. According to an interview he gave to Rolling Stone magazine, he lived close enough to the studio that he never bothered to fill up his tank with gas. But then there were those days when that caught up with him, leaving him running on empty AND running behind:
Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don’t know about anyone, but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes, I see them running too
Running on (running on empty)
Running on (running blind)
Running on (running into the sun)
But I’m running behind
We’ve all been there. If we don’t stop long enough to fill up our emotional and spiritual tanks, we can suddenly hit a wall and realize we’ve run out of ”gas.” This happens when caregiving, working late, the loss of a loved one, parenting, helping a friend through an emotional crisis, raising teenagers, etc. gets overwhelming and we don’t allow for enough rest and refill.
If that is you today, take a look at this wonderful story from the Old Testament about a widow who was running on empty in every sense of the word:
1 Kings 7 (Contemporary English Version)
8 The Lord told Elijah, 9 “Go to the town of Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I’ve told a widow in that town to give you food.”
10 When Elijah came near the town gate of Zarephath, he saw a widow gathering sticks for a fire. “Would you please bring me a cup of water?” he asked. 11 As she left to get it, he asked, “Would you also please bring me a piece of bread?”
12 The widow answered, “In the name of the living Lord your God, I swear that I don’t have any bread. All I have is a handful of flour and a little olive oil. I’m on my way home now with these few sticks to cook what I have for my son and me. After that, we will starve to death.”
13 Elijah said, “Everything will be fine. Do what you said. Go home and fix something for you and your son. But first, please make a small piece of bread and bring it to me. 14 The Lord God of Israel has promised that your jar of flour won’t run out and your bottle of oil won’t dry up before he sends rain for the crops.”
15 The widow went home and did exactly what Elijah had told her. She and Elijah and her family had enough food for a long time. 16 The Lord kept the promise that his prophet Elijah had made, and she did not run out of flour or oil.
This story comes to us today as a reminder of God’s provision. There is one source where we can go to get everything refilled … our personal resources, our family’s needs, the things lacking in our communities, and especially our spiritual emptiness.
The problem is that we try to fill ourselves with things that only end up emptying us farther: drugs, alcohol, inappropriate relationships, over-eating, over-spending, temporary distractions … useless nonsense that the secular world offers in the absence of a meaningful relationship with God.
But we know better.
If you are running on empty today, STOP RUNNING. Sit in the silence of your room and wait on the Lord. Rest in his grace, rest in his POWER, and fill yourself with his presence. Ask God to fill up your cup, and fill it up to overflowing.
The Lord keeps his promises! You can never run out of his grace.