How to Keep Going When Your Tank is Empty
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Our friend, Mike, had just started up the pickup truck when the trouble started. Mike was taking the truck out for a test drive for some people who had just bought it. And as he backed it out of the new owner's garage, it suddenly started sputtering and stalling. He couldn't keep it running no matter what he tried. He got to a phone and called the old owner and said, "What's the deal with this truck you just sold?" Well, the man who sold it is an honorable man, and he was really distressed about this suddenly dysfunctional truck. Then suddenly he asked Mike, "Did you happen to mess with the radio at all?" Yes, he had. The previous owner told Mike to go check these two switches that are right next to the radio. This truck has a wonderful feature, especially for the country roads that it travels so much. It has a reserve gas tank. Mike had unknowingly turned off Tank 2, which was full of gas, and turned on Tank 1, which was totally empty. But the good news is that as soon as he switched from the empty tank to the reserve tank, Mr. Pickup Truck ran and ran and ran.
I'm assuming that your life runs pretty fast, pretty hard like mine. And there are times when your tank is basically empty. You're totally exhausted, you have nothing left to give, your demands and responsibilities are much greater than the strength you have to meet them. And sometimes you just run out of ideas, you're out of solutions, you're out of motivation, you're out of energy. Now why am I assuming that you know about an empty tank like this? Because I'm assuming you're not that different from me.
But there's good news when your tank has nothing left. Our word for today from the Word of God, Isaiah 40:28, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and His understanding no one can fathom." Now the God you belong to, the God who lives in you, is inexhaustible. He is what the theologians call infinite. His resources and wisdom just never, never run out, but yours do. Mine do.
Here's where the reserve tank kicks in. The passage continues, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall." By the way, any words here that sound like you? "Weary, weak, tired, stumble, fall?" Here's what God promises to the totally overwhelmed and depleted person. "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
When Mike's Tank 1 on that truck was empty, the fuel in Tank 2 was all the difference. I can't tell you how many times I have reached empty in my tank, and God's never-empty tank has kicked in and it has made all the difference. After an exhausting week, I wake up and say, "God, I'm so tired." He says, "I'm not." I say, "I'm empty, Lord." He says, "I know, but switch on My power, Ron. I'm not empty." It's was I sang about as a little boy and I didn't really understand it until life got a lot more complicated, "Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong."
If you dwell on how stressed you are, or how tired, or how sick or overwhelmed, you're done. You're dwelling on your empty tank. But if, on those depleted days, you consciously focus on your Lord's inexhaustible strength, your Lord's unlimited power, you will be able to keep driving when you thought you couldn't go another mile.
The songwriter of one of my favorite songs said it pretty well. "When we have exhausted our store of endurance; when our strength has failed ere the day is half done. When we've reached the end of our hoarded resources, our Father's full giving has only begun."
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