by Calven Celliers
Last week I experienced car trouble. I was on my way to visit a lovely new couple to our congregation, when my car started losing power, and kept threatening to cut out in the traffic. I pulled over and gave my mechanic a quick call. As I explained to him what was happening, he advised me to go home and bring my car into his workshop the next morning. So, I called ahead to my appointment, explained my situation. They graciously understood my predicament and we rescheduled for this week. The next morning my mechanic checked out my vehicle and the verdict was as he suspected, contaminated fuel. Fuel contamination is, as the name suggests, fuel that becomes contaminated or tainted with water or sediment that collects towards the bottom of fuel tanks at the service station.
As I reflected on this experience, it brought to mind the reality of what happens when we as believers let our ‘tanks’ run low, and our spiritual lives become contaminated. Sometimes we find ourselves running very low because we are giving out more than we are taking in, and eventually we become quite drained, less than our best and tainted because we’re cruising on the dregs of what’s left, and we start losing power. It’s impossible to continue giving out when there’s nothing left to give. Maybe you’re there right now? Maybe you feel like you’ve got nothing more to give and you’re tempted to ‘cut out’ and give up? Well, if that’s you then I want to encourage you this day.
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said that when we’re tired, worn out, and empty we can come to Him. I like the way the late Eugene Petersen paraphrases Christ’s words in The Message saying, “28-30 Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11: 28 – 30TheMessage)
The simplicity of Jesus’s invite, come to me, is so refreshing. All of us go through times where we feel spiritually empty. David likens it in Psalm 42 to a deer panting after water. Jesus doesn’t offer us a four-fold path to peace-giving enlightenment, like the Buddha did. He doesn’t give us five pillars of peace through submission as Islam does. Nor does He give us a “10 Ways to Relieve Your Weariness,” program like our pragmatic, self-help-oriented 21st century culture does. Instead, Jesus simply offers Himself as the solution.
There is a danger in continually running on dregs. When we let our spiritual tank run low, our energy and inspiration disappear. Our desire to live for Christ decreases, and soon, we are just getting by.
When you’re running on dregs it becomes difficult to cope with little things that come up or to smile. We spew out our frustration, usually on the ones we love the most, the ones we’re meant to lead or the ones we’re meant to serve. Jesus wants more for us than just getting by. In the Gospel of John, He says that “10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10NIV)
Many times, we over complicate the solution, when all it takes is sheer determination and a good ol’ dose of discipline. Even when you don’t feel like it, even when it takes every last ounce of energy you’ve got left, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing. Fill yourself with the Word of God and commit to attending Services to fellowship and worship with others where possible. As simple as it sounds, when you make a concerted effort to do these things (prayer, bible reading, fellowship and worship), you will notice your spiritual fervour increasing. Your mind turns to the things of God and away from those negative thoughts which tend to both exhaust and overwhelm us. When your tank is full, however, it’s easier to find joy in each day, to laugh at the days ahead and cope with trials.
Make every effort to connect to the source of abundant life and let Him fill your tank!