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Running on empty

Are you forging forward with something, expecting to be able to keep going without the appropriate fuel loading, only to find yourself at risk of burning out?


I am one of those annoying drivers who does not sense a state of urgency as my car’s petrol indicator starts ticking down towards the ‘E’ side of the gauge.

There have been times when I may have pushed my vehicle to the limits of sensible behaviour by putting off filling up, despite lights and ‘dings’ alerting me to imminent fuel reserves being completely depleted. I have never run out of petrol, but I have come incredibly close on a couple of occasions.

I know that this practice is not the best for the longevity of my engine, and it’s not necessarily a deliberate action (or lack of it) on my part. It is more that I forget to do it, or I find the whole petrol station experience tiresome and inconvenient, so I put it off.

I recently discovered what it might be like to try to power on when your fuel tank is empty. I headed off to my usual Saturday morning local parkrun – a free and timed 5km run, jog or walk activity held in communities across the world. Lately, I have been able to jog every step of the course without too much difficulty, but a recent run was another story. The night before had been a perfect storm of circumstances that meant the only food I consumed for ‘dinner’ was a doughnut at the airport at 8pm. Not a deliberate action, but one impacted by the happenings of the world around me and my complacency in trying to find a better option.

At parkrun, I discovered that this doughnut only managed to fuel my exertion for the first 2km before I literally felt like my fuel tank had been drained of anything useful to keep me moving. I spent the rest of the activity making my body work harder than it should to reach the destination.

Calling on reserves

How often in life do we forge forward with something, expecting to be able to keep going without the appropriate fuel loading? It could be a lack of preparation for work, study or physical activity. It will have consequences, sometimes immediately and other times a bit later, when you are part way through and really need to call upon the resources you don’t have.

Even more dangerous is trying to navigate your spiritual life journey with only the barest of sustenance levels to help you survive. Plenty of times, if your spiritual gauge is bordering on ‘E’, you will face situations without access to the divine strength and sustenance to get you through well.

While you might get through, you’ll reach your destination in a diminished capacity. How much better to arrive knowing you have more resources at your disposal should you face an unexpected detour that requires a little, or a lot, of extra effort.

Filling the tanks

Can I encourage you to make sure you are not running through any area of life on empty? The short-term gain is not worth the longer-term consequences.

Consider seeking out opportunities to fill up your tank. This could include spending more time with friends and family, getting more rest or exercise, or reflecting on the God who loves you and is always there and ready to ‘fill your tank’ in any way, regardless of your circumstances.

God tells us in John chapter 10, verse 10, that, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This doesn’t mean that everything will be easy, but it does mean that God will give us hope, joy, meaning and purpose as we go through life, and that he will strengthen and walk with us every step of the way.


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