At 8:30am, I climbed in my car, dreading the traffic-riddled commute to my office. I have a digital gas tank, with 25 little notches that deplete as I drive. On this particular morning, I had 5 notches left, meaning that 1/5 of my gas tank was full.
Perfect, I thought, I’ll drive to work and fill up on the way home. A fifth of a tank is more than enough to go the 6 miles there and 6 miles back.
Pulling into my building’s parking garage, the gas light flicks on. That’s strange, I think, I shouldn’t have used 3 notches worth of gas on my drive to work. Crazy. There must be a calibration error.
With that, I grab my work bag and head into the daily grind.
Five o’clock rolls around, and I am excited to be home but once again dreading the commute to get there. Austin traffic is unreal–much worse than I thought it would be. I quickly Google “How many more miles can a Civic go after the gas light turns on?” and am relieved when the answer is around 30.
No big deal, I think! I’m only going 6.
As I pull out of the garage, however, another notch ticks down. I am now sitting in a car with only one notch of gas, the gas light starring unforgivingly at me, and no gas stations around me for at least 5 miles.
“Siri–take me to the nearest gas station!”
“The closest gas station is 4.9 miles away.”
Almost 5 miles away. In bumper to bumper traffic. It’ll probably take 20+ minutes to get there. Oh. My. Gosh.
I start driving, praying, praying, praying. Siri tells me to take the next exit. I do. And before my eyes is LITERALLY THE STEEPEST, TALLEST, LARGEST HILL IN TEXAS.
I snap into survival mode. Okay, when I start drifting backwards down the hill, I’ll pull my emergency brake. Call AAA. Oh gosh, do I have cell service?
“LORD, PLEASE LET ME GET TO THE GAS STATION.”
And then it happened. The gas light went from one notch to ZERO NOTCHES.
(Huge blogger bonus points to me for thinking to take a photo when I was in complete and utter panic mode. I was at a stoplight, in my defense.)
And the worst possible scenario flooded my head and I mentally said my goodbyes and thanked God for a beautiful life and told Him I couldn’t wait to meet Him.
Maybe a little. Yes. But I was totally freaking out.
Prayers stronger than most any I’ve prayed before drifted up to the heavens, lots of bartering and bargaining and “If you get me to the gas station, I’ll never _______ agains!”
And then, a miracle. I saw the Valero in the distance.
THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU GOD!
I was literally tearing up. (Not a surprise.)
I pulled into the station. I’ve never seen a gas station so crowded. I had to wait what felt like 3 hours for the guy in front of me to finish pumping gas into his truck.
Once I finally got to the pump, selected my fuel grade, swiped my debit card, and heard the familiar gurgle of gas flowing into my car, I did a flamboyant celebration dance, and removed the 18 elephant stampede that had been sitting on my chest.
On the drive back home, I had a revelation…
This is my life as a Christian.
God asks me to walk through trials and difficult times, and I whine and cry and moan and complain because I am all too often running on empty.
If I would take the time to be filled up by the Lord, loved by Him, cherished, encouraged–every obstacle in life wouldn’t feel like the largest, steepest hill in Texas. It would feel more like a speed bump; something to keep calm about. Nothing to lose my marbles over!
I have committed to a morning quiet time with the Lord for the past month; the short 15 minutes each day realigns my spirit and grounds me in ways that I could not have foreseen. But it’s not enough, I’m coming to learn. There is more to maintaining a full tank than a quarter of an hour each morning. I need to join a small group, I need to meet encouraging Christian friends, I need to volunteer in Christ’s name. (All of which I’m working on.)
It’s not a matter of if God is going to ask you and me to walk through difficult seasons of life; it’s a matter of when. Unicorns and rainbows and fairies and butterflies exist (well, most of them anyway), but not all the time. Life gets tough. Life gets messy.
It’s the tough times that shape us, and the tough times that reveal our true strength–but we’ll never get through those patches without being fulfilled.
Here’s to a full tank of spiritual gas.
And an amen to my Civic making it up the most ridiculous hill in Texas.