In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. (Mark 1:35)
So, yesterday I was going to Durham to see somebody and passed this gas station with cars backed up into the street, lined up waiting to get gas. This morning I had to go somewhere and virtually all of the gas stations I passed were closed with “Out of gas” signs on all of the pumps. Apparently, I need to watch the news more, because I had no idea about the gas shortage.
It reminded me of when I was a teenager in the mid 1970’s (I know, that was a long time ago) and the oil embargo that caused gas lines to back up for miles. Some of you remember it too. What was really bad is when people would wait in line for hours, only to have the pumps run dry just before it was their turn. No doubt some not so nice words were spoken. I wonder if that has happened to anybody this week?
Seeing those gas lines made me think of the spiritual analogy I have often used when trying to explain to people the need to spend time in God’s word and in prayer. Every one of those people in line yesterday were there because their car’s fuel indicator was at, or near “E.” Most cars nowadays even have warning lights that come on, and perhaps even an alarm that notifies us that we are nearing the empty point in our fuel tank.
You don’t have to be a car aficionado, or a car mechanic to know what happens if you keep driving after the light comes on, or the needle hits “E.” You’re going to end up on the side of the road somewhere, out of power and stuck. It’s simple physics. (Is that an oxymoron?) To produce energy, you must have fuel. No fuel means no energy. No energy means no progress. No progress means stuck. Whether we’re talking about a combustion engine, or even the human body, to get anywhere you need energy, and in order to have energy you must have fuel.
The same thing is true when applied to our spiritual lives. No spiritual fuel means no spiritual energy. No spiritual energy means no spiritual progress. And, no spiritual progress means spiritually stuck. Have you ever felt spiritually stuck? Are you spiritually stuck right now? And here’s the thing; since we were created for a relationship with God, when you’re running on empty, spiritually speaking, it impacts pretty much every other area of your life; emotionally, relationally, even physically stalled out and broke down.
I’ve said this to I don’t know how many people, but in nearly thirty years of walking with Jesus I only know of two ways to “fuel up,” spiritually speaking, and that is time in the word of God, and time in prayer.
Taking time in the morning to get alone with God for 30 to 45 minutes, even an hour, is the spiritual equivalent to pulling in to the gas station and filling up. And bonus, God’s fuel pump never runs dry, and you never have to wait in line to tap in to His fuel! And double-bonus, you don’t have to pay per gallon, per minute, or at all! Jesus’ death on the cross not only provided for your salvation, it also provides for everything you need for spiritual power to keep you moving down the highway of life with peace, contentment, purpose, joy, patience, hope, faith, confidence, and everything else that a follower of Jesus should possess.
Think about how that would impact each and every day of your life. Fueling up enables you to power through workplace issues, relational issues, financial issues, and whatever else that brings fear, anxiety, stress, worry, doubt, hurt, and anger into your life. All of that stuff is there, waiting for you to stall out, to run out of spiritual gas so it can jump on you.
It would be nice if our lives came with a warning light that signaled when we were getting spiritually near empty. It doesn’t. That’s one reason why it just makes sense to pull in to the station every morning, to insure that you and I have what we need for today, and whatever it will throw at us. Honestly, God designed us with pretty small spiritual tanks, because He wants us to draw near to Him every day, to seek His presence and His power for our daily lives.
I know what some of you are thinking, “That sounds great pastor, and it even makes sense, but you just don’t know what my day looks like. You just don’t know what all I have to do, and the schedule that I have to keep up with. I just don’t have the time to stop and do that.”
You’re probably right. You all probably live much busier lives than I do. (You may note a hint of sarcasm in those remarks.) But this I do know, if you apply that same logic with your car and the fuel indicator, if you say, “I know I need gas, but I just don’t have the time to stop. My life is too busy. My schedule is too full. My time is too limited.” If you just keep driving, ignoring the warning light and alarm, well, I’m pretty sure I’ll know where to find you.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NLT)
Dr. J. Clay Stevens is Lead Pastor of Cross Culture Church in Raleigh, NC. He is author of the book I Get It! Discovering How To Really live In The Promises Of God. His life mission statement is: "To take people from where they are to where God wants them to be."