Running On Empty - Devo for the Rest of Us

Running On Empty

God . . . has planted eternity in the human heart.

Ecclesiastes 3:11


Whatever it is that you are, you are on a journey. You know that.

Everything that moves needs fuel. Cars need gas. Bodies need food. So what fuel do we need for our life’s journey?

Is it possible you’re running on bad gas?

One time my car was idling kind of rough. Someone asked me, “Did you get gas at . . .” and named a local gas station.

“Yeah,” I answered. “Why?”

She told me, “They have bad gas. They’re known for watering down their gas.”

I wonder if you’re running on bad fuel. What is it that moves and restores and sustains you? Is it your job? Money? Success? Sex? The approval of other people? Living up to your parents’ expectations? Drugs? Feeling significant? Looking good?

If so, how’s that working for you?

My guess is that you find it unfulfilling, and your life has been kind of rough.

And running on bad fuel may leave you with no gas.

Have you ever run out of gas with your car? When it happens you feel so stupid, but it’s just that you weren’t thinking about it. You weren’t paying attention to the fuel gauge. Your focus was on something else.

One Christmas Day our church did a banquet for homeless people. It was awesome. Somehow the news media heard about it, and a reporter showed up and told me there would be a story about it in the paper the next day. The next morning my car was low on gas, so I drove to a gas station, pulled up, put the nozzle in, and walked away as it was filling up. I went into the little store and bought the newspaper. As I walked back to my car I found the article and started reading. I got into my car, started it, pulled away, and heard a sound. It was a loud thud, followed by a metallic scraping noise. I looked back and realized I hadn’t taken the nozzle out of my car. As I drove away, the nozzle and hose ripped out of the gas pump, and I was dragging them behind my car. Wow.

Many of us are so focused on other things (success, appearance, money, romance) that we don’t pay attention to how we’re doing inside, until one day we realize we’re empty. Then we figure it’s because we haven’t filled our lives with enough of the things we’re seeking in this world, so we pursue more. Hopefully it won’t take our entire lives to understand that no amount of success or romance will fill our emptiness.

Several years ago Tom Brady was interviewed on 60 Minutes. Tom Brady is perhaps the most successful current athlete in America, having now won the Super Bowl four times. He’s good looking. He’s rich, living in a twenty-million dollar mansion in California. He’s married to Gisele Bündchen, a Victoria’s Secret supermodel. If externals can fill a person up, Tom Brady should be overflowing.a In the interview he said, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be. . . . I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find.” Tom Brady seems to have it all, but he feels like it’s not enough. He may not know it, but he’s running on empty.

We may be running on bad gas, we may be running on empty, and at some point we may get detached from an ability to refuel at all. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there. Struggling to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Wondering what it’s all about. Feeling no hope for a better future. I think some people, as they continue on in their life’s journey, go from having bad gas, to no gas, to an inability to refuel at all. It’s like they have no lust left for life. They don’t care anymore.

Why is it that we sense this emptiness and feel unfilled?

The Bible says that “God . . . has planted eternity in the human heart.”b God has made us for something bigger and better than this world. He put eternity in our hearts.

It’s what sets humans apart.

I have a dog. My dog lies around all day. Occasionally he plays with a ball. My dog is very content lying around all day and occasionally playing with a ball. He never asks himself, Why am I lying around all day and occasionally playing with a ball? He never thinks, I’m kind of disappointed in myself. I’m not really growing much as a Pomeranian. I think I need to figure out what I’m missing. Why do I exist? Is this really all there is?

That will never happen, because God didn’t plant eternity in my dog’s heart.

But he did in mine. And he did in yours. He put eternity in our hearts.

That’s our curse. It’s why we can’t be satisfied with the things this world offers.

It’s also one of God’s greatest blessings. Because we won’t be satisfied with the things this world offers. God put that craving in our hearts so we would crave him. Because he knows he’s the only thing that can fill us.

Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”c Jesus came so you can be full. The Bible says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow.”d

You don’t have to run on empty.

You can be full. Filled to overflowing.

But only if you realize that what you’re hungry for is God, if you turn to him, and if he becomes the fuel you run on.

Now What?

  • Read Ephesians 3:14-21.
  • That passage talks about having Jesus live in our hearts, being established in God’s love, and being filled with God. If you had to add one new habit to your life that you think would help all that to become a reality for you, what would it be? And . . . when will you add it?
  • Ask God to show you signs that you’ve been running on empty and how he can fill you up.

a Okay —he did get caught up in Deflategate and suspended, but that was years later. At the time of this interview, it seemed like he had everything.

b Ecclesiastes 3:11.

c John 10:10, NIV.

d Romans 15:13, NIV.

From the Book:

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Devo for the Rest of Us
By Vince Antonucci

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