Half Empty or Half Full?

My granddaddy always told me not to let my gas tank get below half full. I didn’t always listen to him. One evening, driving in from college after midnight, my car stopped at the base of the steep mountain at the top of which was my grandparents’ house—my haven for the night. I silently cursed the car (“What a piece of junk!”), got my suitcase out of the trunk and trudged the long way up the hill to the house. The next morning my granddaddy drove me down to my car and checked the engine for me. It was out of gas.

How often do we encounter situations in our life where our patience runs thin, our resolve weakens and our sinful nature takes over? What causes this lack of grace, this seeming insufficiency of the fruits of the Spirit? Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, urges “Let circumstances take you where they will, but keep drawing on the grace of God in whatever condition you may find yourself.”

How do we keep our gas tank full of grace? Fortunately, we don’t need to keep refilling the tank–it is always full to overflowing. The Apostle Paul asked the Lord for relief from the thorn that plagued him: “But He [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” [2 Corinthians 12:9].

How do we make sure our spiritual engines have a steady supply of grace? How do we make sure our fuel pump and fuel injection systems are ready to work, so when we press the accelerator the car will go? Prayer is the method by which we draw on the grace of God.  “Pray without ceasing.” [I Thessalonians 5:17] “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” [James 1:5] The Bible is full of reassurance that, if we pray, God will respond by supplying grace for every situation.

So, I am without excuse. I cannot make excuse that I yelled at my children or was impatient with my husband because I was weak or because I was out of spiritual “gas.” Every action I take, every decision I make, every word that comes out of my mouth or displays on my Facebook page should give evidence “…Christ lives in me,“ [Galatians 2:20].   “He must become greater; I must become less.” [John 3:30] The gas is in the tank, but I must remember to press the accelerator.

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