Are you a drive on empty person?


The way I see it, there are 2 types of people in this world.

1. The kind that fill their gas tank as soon as it hits the 1/4 mark (In this camp there are, of course, the over-achievers who fill their tank if it gets below half).

2. Me. I’m the drive on empty girl. I wait until the light comes on and then think to myself, “I’ve got a good 20 miles until calamity.” I figure you aren’t really getting the full use out of your tank of gas unless you drain every last drop of it. 

I remember the first time I realized people don’t often let their tank go to “E”. I was driving somewhere with Richard’s mom (you may think of her as Saint Pat henceforth) and she noticed the tank at the dreaded 1/4 mark. She was as stressed about finding a gas station in that situation as I am when the 20 miles on my empty tank ran out 5 miles ago and no station is in sight.

It amazed me to think that our desperation levels would be so different.

Desperation is a funny thing. As a teenager, I remember the high school dating game. The goal (though never said out loud) was to make someone want to be with you so badly that they felt like they needed you. A person clearly didn’t like you enough unless they appeared desperate for you.

So, desperation became romantic in my eyes.

I watched movies and read books in which the main characters could not survive without the other – and I wanted to feel that way, to be felt about that way.

Living on the edge. Embracing every moment. Spending yourself completely. That is what adventure looks like, right? I want to live an adventure.

This all makes sense except for a series of simple truths I am learning through many hard lessons: I do not have unlimited resources. I do not have unlimited time. I do not even have unlimited fervor.

When I am spent, I am spent – and tomorrow still comes. 

The movie ends. The last page of the book is the last page of the story. But, life is not like that. Life can’t be lived in 96 minutes – in 300 pages. It wouldn’t be much of a life if it could be.

There is nothing romantic or special about emptiness. 

Me? I tend to romanticize what I cannot control. Some other life that is beyond my means or some adventure I will likely never take. I look at other and picture it becoming familiar – as if that is the goal.

When I am not full – satisfied – I become desperate for something that was never intended for me.

When I run on empty, the nearest gas station becomes a blessed savior in a desperate moment.

When I am spiritually empty, depleting myself without allowing for regeneration, I often settle for a self-made solution that pales in comparison to the Creator-Redeemer God that wants to be near to me.

I heard a message recently in which the speaker shared a thought that has stuck with me. I’ll paraphrase:

The people around you can only receive from you what overflows from your spirit. When you are empty or just barely full, those you love will only get to experience your leftovers.

Overflow. That means I need to be OVER-FULL. Because health has never been about meeting my own spiritual and emotional needs. I allow Jesus to fill me for one reason: to flow out into those in my care.

When I am distracted by some romantic picture that involves my desperation, I am depriving the people God has placed around me of fullness. Desperation is selfish.

I don’t want to let my spiritual tank get so empty that I am in desperation. I don’t want to drive on empty. I don’t believe God needs my desperation. He wants my trust.

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)

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