Pastor’s Corner – Running on Empty
It constantly amazes me how life has simultaneously slowed down and gotten more difficult at the same time. In the Gauss House, we frequently say “There are no easy decisions right now.” We use this saying as a way to give other people grace and a way to give ourselves the same grace. Essentially, it is the same thing as remembering that we all suffer from “decision fatigue.” This is a result of having to make so many decisions and our brains are just tired; maybe our spirit is tired, too; and we struggle to make even the most straight forward of decisions.
The best description I’ve heard to illustrate this is that we are like a pitcher of water. We pour ourselves out for ourselves and the nourishment of others. Isaiah 44:3 says it like this: “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Refreshing water is like a long steady rain after a long dry season. This happened just a few weeks ago when my entire yard was brown and crunchy. After a few steady rains it is lush, soft and green again.
If we keep pouring ourselves out, like a pitcher of water, we will eventually run dry. It is required that every once in a while, we stop and refill ourselves so we can continue to be a blessing to those around us. While WE might run dry, our source of refreshing water and life-giving Spirit never does. So, if God’s refreshing water never runs out, why do I feel like I’m running on empty?
Our human nature tells us that when we feel dry, we should turn inward and protect ourselves. Most of us will stop serving, stop giving, stop focusing on others and instead focus on ourselves. We say, “I need to be fed” and we let Jesus pour out on us. This works for a little while, but what happens is, instead of being a pitcher that pours out life giving water, we become a stagnant swamp where the water pools and goes stale. We can’t figure it out and we ask “Why am I so dry; so disconnected; filled with a hollow Spirit when I am so connected to Jesus?” The answer is because we stopped pouring ourselves out.
I like to envision not just a pitcher pouring out the life-giving waters of faith. I imagine a hole in the “bottom” of the pitcher. This allows the water to pour into us, the pitcher, while we simultaneously are poured into by the source of all life, Jesus.
We are literally running on empty, but never run dry. We are able to do this when we don’t look to our own needs, but look to the needs of others. When we pour out, not from our reserves, but from Christ who pours into us, we, too, have a never-ending source of life-giving joy.
It is a simple concept, but it isn’t an easy concept. If it was easy, we wouldn’t need each other and we certainly wouldn’t need Jesus. Quite the opposite. The Devil is actively working to cut us off from this life-giving water. He is good at what he does and through his lies and deceit we are made to feel alone and thirsty. This isn’t true now and it isn’t ever true. Jesus, our source of life, is pouring into us. As we receive from Him and pour into others, we will never be thirsty again. “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35