Have you ever run out of gas with your car? I must confess that I have… on a few occasions. One time, quite a few years ago now, it was in my little red Ford Pinto Runabout. The Beach Boys never would have sung a song about that car, but I loved it. It even had a “four on the floor” transmission, (but not a Chevy “409” engine). Running out of gas wasn’t too bad that time. I ran-out on the way to the gas station, so I was actually able to open the car door, get out and push it to the filling station down the street. Now, the newer cars tell you when you’re almost out of gas, by having a warning light and sound come on, as well as indicating how many miles you have left till empty.
Unfortunately, our lives are not like that. Sometimes, we get so worn out physically and emotionally that we fail to heed the warning signs that may be there. Signs like exhaustion, anxiety and, sometimes, even depression. The sad thing is that we may not even realize that we’ve been “running on empty.” Wouldn’t it be great, though, if when we were in need of some “gas,” an indicator would tell us how much time was left until we run out? Maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea, now that I think about it.
It’s even sadder when we find ourselves rushing through life, maybe earning lots of money, seeming successful and all that, and yet we’ve never taken the time to think and reflect about who we are, or what the real meaning and purpose of life might be, including what God may have made us for. We’re still feeling empty inside. But as I understand what the Bible teaches, our purpose in life is: “to glorify God and then to enjoy Him forever.” That’s also the answer to the first question of what we call the Westminster Catechism of Faith: “What is the chief end (purpose) of man?”
I know I’ve shared the following quote recently, but I find it very helpful to me in understanding what we’re talking about here. The early Church Father, Augustine, said this: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You.” What does that mean? Someone has said that restlessness is like being worried, anxious, or uneasy all the time… kind of like having a “restless night” (but one that just doesn’t go away). Maybe the image of a “restless wind” that never seems to stop blowing, helps us to picture it better. But I think the meaning of what Augustine was getting at is this: “It is only in knowing God and experiencing his love, that our heart truly finds rest.”
Although it’s not a direct quote, the mathematician/theologian Blaise Pascal taught this: “There’s a God-shaped vacuum within the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” So when we have that “running-on-empty” feeling, first make sure you’re getting enough sleep, have healthy eating habits, and you’re taking breaks for rest and reflection. But then, don’t forget the spiritual part of who you are. If you’ve been seeking to fill the empty, restless part of your life with anything besides who and what you were made for, then maybe it’s time to “check the gas gauge,” and then fill-up with some nourishment from the Word of God, spending time with Him in prayer, and resting on His promises.
Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Community Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.