What life on the edge of empty taught me about the hope of a full life…
I like to live on the edge. Well, at least once a week.
I put in twenty dollars worth of regular unleaded, and then watch the gas gauge as it slowly (sometimes not so slowly), slinks into the red. Once in the red-light zone, I know how far I can go before the need to gas up. Give or take a few miles.Although, my mileage in the red depends on how many trips to the school I make because of forgotten lunch money, or a missed item at the grocery. And we all know those short jaunts don’t fare well where gas mileage is concerned. Unless you can catch the draft of a semi-truck just passing through your neighborhood. Good luck.
Really—I don’t know why I insist on living the red light, life-style. This “push the limit mechanism” must be wired to the same neuro-receptors that coax my brain to ignore all the clocks in the house because they’re set ahead. Even my vehicle clock. You know, to give the family a few more minutes to get ready in the morning. But because I know they are set fast, I rationalize I have more time. I don’t—I’m late everywhere I go.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles…My husband, ever so patient with me these past years, has made it a goal to set me straight when it comes to my livin on the edge idiosyncrasies that drive him crazy.(Pun intended.) He’s a black and white thinker. I live in the life of gray. Gray is a good place to be in the area of emotions and “everyone’s a winner” land. Not such a good place when it comes to planes, trains and automobiles.
Jerry tries though. He’s coached me in the delicacies of a car engine, and appealed to my nurturing side. After all, “My engines health and welfare depends on me gassing up before the red light appears.” Especially in the North. Because “Things can dry up,” or “freeze up,” he says…or maybe that’s lock up? But bad things happen when you run out of fluids.
How empty is really empty???A few years ago I borrowed my husband’s truck for the day. Unfamiliar with the sensitivities of his vehicle, his gas gauge slightly above E—by my calculations—meant plenty of gas. No sooner had I gotten down the road and over two hills, did the vehicle chug and cough.
I called my husband to prepare him for the worst: “Honey,” it might be a bad fuel pump ( I warned since I am sooo knowledgeable in the area of car repair), or maybe even the engines…gulp…locked up!” I asked if I should call a tow truck and then there was a long period of silence followed by a loud gawfaw. “Beth, is the gas gauge on E?” His tone factual. “Not quite,” I reported. He sighed. “In my truck not quite empty is really empty.” So my calculations were a little off. No harm—no fuel, I guess.
Oh, I’ve learned from some of my fuel-lish mistakes.
I know better than to push the gauge in inclement weather or impending Ohio blizzards. Even though we haven’t had a true blizzard in Ohio since the blizzard of 78. (Thank goodness I was too young to have my license back then.) But now my own children are old enough to drive.
Of course, I’ve encouraged them to fuel-up sooner than Empty. To stay away from E even. I’ve gone as far as reminding them they can be stranded in a blinding blizzard—If and when we ever have one. And if that speech ceases to move them closer to full, I end it with the old familiar question, “Do you know what that does to your engine?!?”
Unfortunately, this bad habit doesn’t flow far from the gas tank. For instance, a few months ago my son needed to drive my car to school because his truck was very low on gas. Go figure. His gas, too low to get him to school, but enough to get me to the station a mile away. Reluctantly I agreed.
No sooner had I put gas in his tank, when I realized I needed to run an errand twenty minutes a way…at a shopping mall. When I came out of the store, however, I tried to start Josh’s truck. It gave one giant hick-up then breathed what sounded to be it’s last. I hesitated to call Jerry. I knew my living in the red, had him seeing red. As I sat my conscience seared, Jerry had warned me of this, more than once. Now it might be at a high financial cost to our family. It was time to take responsibility. My words and warnings to my children about an empty gas tank had been just that—EMPTY. I called my husband and prepared myself for the worst.
“Honey, I’m at the mall and I think Josh’s truck is…double gulp…locked up.” “And why would Josh’s truck be locked up?” He asked—as if he didn’t know. “Well, it ran low on gas,” “How low?” “Well, low- low, but I put gas in, drove it to the mall, and now it won’t start.” My husband’s words of reply were kind and patient, which stung my heart all the more.
Help for the Fuel-ish Hearted…My husband worked on my son’s truck that night by the late light of a Macy’s sign. I thought about my destructive habits all evening. What struck me is how hard I work to teach my children Godly life lessons, taking every opportunity to point them in the direction of Christ-like living. Praying with them, and encouraging them to follow my advice, but not really my life? Hmmm? There are many more destructive habits that surfaced from the murky corners: my impatience, irritability, procrastination just to name a few. Behaviors I so thoughtlessly pass on to my children. Exodus 34:7 says that as the Lord was passing in front of Moses he proclaimed, “ The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to the thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” That scripture resonates with me. Understanding that my sin has a long lasting consequence even my grandchildren can, or may be affected by, makes it mean a little more than a few bad habits.
I don’t want to live lean—but full. I want to leave a legacy of spiritual truths and intentional parenting. I want my children to see me fill up on God’s word early, and seek it during the day. For every decision and need. I want my children to recognize my dependence of prayer. Praying about the simple things as well as the big. God cares about the simple things in our lives. I want my children to see me pouring my self worth into who God is, not who I am. After all, He says I’m worth dying for, anything else just doesn’t measure up. I want my children to know I make mistakes, so will they. That God’s forgiveness is enough and His grace covers all mess ups. And if they happen to push the limit on the edge of empty, just like their mom—it’s okay. It’s never too late to fill up!!!
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me up with joy in your presence.” Acts 2:28
What are some bad habits you are hoping God can help you change? Leave a comment, I would love to know. Plus it gets your comment in the running to win a prize. Random comments are picked monthly. Brenda Nixon was the winner last month. Yaaa Brenda!!