Are You on Empty?

I’d just come out of Kroger and was ready to head home. The trunk was full of groceries. My heart full with excitement and joy. We were getting ready to go out on the lake with friends. Listening to the radio blasting with my favorite song, I glanced over to my left and noticed a black Jeep stopped in the middle of the parking lot.

An empty gas can was perched on top of it. Nobody was in the driver’s seat. When my eyes continued to look, I noticed a young woman sitting on the edge of a curb, just feet away from the stopped vehicle. Her head was buried in her hands. She appeared distraught, her body slumped over in defeat.

I pulled over towards her and put down my window. “Is someone coming to help you?” I asked her. When she replied with a desperate, “No”, I asked her if she needed some gas. She shared with me that she’d just left an abusive relationship. She was trying to get to her parents’ house. They were an hour away. Her boyfriend had taken her wallet in an attempt to get her to stay. This young woman had no money. She was stranded.

My heart full of compassion, I immediately realized God had allowed our paths to cross. I filled her empty gas can so she could get her Jeep to the gas pump. And then I offered to fill it up enough to get her to her destination. She humbly accepted.

With one hand she pumped gas, and with the other she wiped tears that would not stop flowing. She knew she was doing the right thing, yet her heart ached. She was torn. She repeatedly blurted, “This is so embarrassing; I’m so sorry to bother you.” Yet I took the opportunity to speak encouragement to her, sharing with her that God had rescued me from my past hurts. I assured her I’d pray for her safety. And for God to guide her in the days ahead.

Driving away from there, I followed through with my promise to pray for her. And as always, God spoke to my own heart through this incident. I wouldn’t have known this woman needed help if she hadn’t placed the empty gas can on top of her vehicle. If she’d remained in her vehicle, with her gas can in the back, nobody would’ve known she needed help. The empty gas can was like a white flag flying overhead shouting “I need help!”

When we are desperately hurting and at the end of our rope, we have two options: We can remain isolated from others, letting pride dictate our actions. We can keep our hurts inside and attempt to handle it ourselves. All the while whispering to ourselves, What will people think?

Or we can humbly ask for help. We can speak up and share our heart’s deepest hurts. What does that look like? It means we cry out in desperation to God and say Okay, I’m on empty. I need to be filled up. And then it may mean we call a trusted friend we can confide in. We humbly admit, I’m at my wit’s end and can’t do this alone. Just like the young woman who was stranded, we put out our empty gas can and ask for help.

So where are you,dear friend? Are you running on fumes, almost on empty? Is there an area of your life where you feel stranded and there seems to be no way out? If so, then I urge you to surrender.

Surrender to your pride.
Surrender to God’s grace.
Surrender to a fellow believer who can walk beside you.

It is only when we admit our emptiness that we can truly be filled. Just as I filled the young woman’s car up with gas, the empty places in your heart can be filled.

Filled with truth.
Filled with grace.
Filled with hope.

Or maybe you are filled up and need to be on the lookout for those who are empty. Believe me, if you look around close enough you will see them. They are there. Maybe they won’t be as obvious as an empty gas can on top of a vehicle in clear view, but if you look close enough you will see the signs:

Of desperation.
Of despair.
Of emptiness.

Either way, I encourage you to allow our Heavenly Father to fill you up if you’re on empty. Or to allow Him to use you in order to fill someone else up.

James 4:6 “God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.”

gas can

Give Up and ASK FOR HELP

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..”

The other day I was pondering this passage of scripture and the word ask seemed to jump off the page at me. Just days prior to reading this passage, I experienced something with my daughter that God used so powerfully to drive home a much needed message I needed to hear.

My daughter is very strong willed and quite independent. She frequently has a hard time asking for help in any given situation. She was attempting to fix the adjustable strap on her new pair of jeans to make them fit her waist just right. After several failed attempts, I asked her if she needed help.

NO Mom! I can do this myself!(eyes rolling as she blurts this out.)

She became more and more frustrated at this point, continuing to fidget with the elastic strap that just wasn’t cooperating with her. Her frustration grew as we were trying to get out the door to go somewhere. All along, I watched her. Waiting for her to get to the point of wanting my help.

Finally……she broke out in tears, heaved a heavy sigh and looked at me with desperate eyes.

I give up! ! Will you help me, Mom?

Of course I helped her, smiling at her while fixing her strap. Once the tears stopped and she had calmed down, I asked her why she didn’t ask for help sooner. Her response caught me off guard and God spoke loud and clear to me through it.

I really thought I could do it by myself, but it was much harder than I thought!

I am JUST like my daughter when it comes to certain areas of my life. I think I can handle them on my own. But I let pride get in the way, and I don’t want to admit I need help. Or admit that my way isn’t working. No wonder I sometimes feel overwhelmed and frustrated!

And God is there watching……waiting……for me to call out to Him. Waiting for me to admit my weakness and humbly ASK Him for help. Just as I waited for my daughter to become desperate enough for help, God so lovingly and patiently waits for us to call out humbly to Him.

So what is it for you? What are you hesitant to ask for help with? Challenges in your marriage? Difficult season with your kids? Or maybe it’s another area of your life causing constant strain and stress. Whatever it may be dear friend, I want to encourage and challenge you to humbly drop to your knees and ASK HIM for help. Go ahead and admit you can’t do it on your own.

He is waiting. Waiting for you to cry out to Him. Ever so patiently and lovingly. (With much more patience than we could ever offer when we’re frustrated with our stubborn kids!)

Look at Ephesians 3:20 again:  He wants to do immeasurably MORE than what we ask for! As a follower of Christ, it just doesn’t get any better than that.