Running on Empty

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

As I have often stated, I don’t for a minute believe that my emotions control my life. When I am not “feeling” the truth, I thank the Lord (out loud) that His truth stands on its own and doesn’t need my emotional confirmation. My feelings don’t get to define me or dictate my actions. Still, I have seen that He often uses my emotions to get my attention and signal me that something is wrong. This week was an example.

Monday I traveled from Kentucky to our family home in Michigan. Usually an eight-hour drive, this time it was more like nine and a half hours. Arriving tired and lazy, I brought in a minimum number of things, leaving the rest to unpack the next day.

A good portion of Tuesday was spent getting resettled, putting things away, making a grocery run, and generally doing “stuff that needed to be done” without any set order or schedule. Oddly, by evening, I was feeling down, then blue, then “depressed” with the unwelcome feeling of self-pity, although I wasn’t sure why. A couple of people had said or texted me things that had hurt my feelings, but this should not have been a big deal.

Wednesday morning neither Marty nor I recognized right away that the power was out. Marty was trying to change a ceiling lightbulb, but the new bulb wouldn’t light either, so he planned to check the fixture after doing some outside chores.

Later, trying to send a message, I saw we had no internet connection and finally realized we had no electricity.

Ever “seeking divine perspective,” I had several things occur to me.

I usually try to start my day with prayer, and usually I get sidetracked with messages, texts, and emails, spending a good portion of the morning telling myself, Just one more thing… (Yep, the old ADD problem.) Today, I was being sent a non-negotiable message to get off the internet!

Secondly, I was seeing some principles at work that, when applied spiritually, may have explained the blue funk I’d been in the night before, when all I’d wanted to do was go to bed and cry.

So, what lessons did I glean?

1. The source of a spiritual and emotional “power outage” may not necessarily be anything we have done, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real, or that we can do nothing about it.

Since we live in the woods, the source of the frequent power outages is usually a downed tree hitting the power lines. That windy Wednesday was no different. We hadn’t done anything wrong. The dead tree that had been left standing too long was not ours, and only the property owner had any control over taking it down preemptively. Since getting a tree removed costs money, most homeowners opt to wait until it falls down and then let the power company remove it “free of charge.”

Applying that concept to emotional power outages, maybe we’ve been treated badly, calamity has hit, or our physical bodies are fighting off an illness. We can’t control everything around us. Still, we need prepare ourselves for such events, so we can be ready to respond to them.

Tuesday morning it had been easy for me to be distracted from morning prayer time with all the “other stuff” that had to be done. I had been short-sighted, not preparing myself for when “life happens.”

2, When we’re not plugged into the Power Source, it may not be evident to us at first that anything is wrong.

Since our Michigan property has a well with an electric pump, when the power goes out, we also lose our source of water. For a while there’s some available, until the built-up pressure runs out. Wednesday, being blissfully ignorant, I’d used all the available water before realizing the power was off. Then, once the realization hit, I found there wasn’t a drop coming from any of the faucets.

Applying the analogy to my emotional state, Monday I had driven for nine hours, spending at least two or three of those hours in prayer. Tuesday I was probably “coasting” on the build-up of spiritual energy from my extended “retreat” in the car. Then, as evening came on, so did the darkness in my unreplenished soul.

Our souls can only “coast” for so long before our strength fails us. Then we’re left with little or no emotional energy to resist the negative thoughts that plague our minds.

3. The solution to a power outage is communication with the Power Source.

When I called the power company Wednesday, I was not chastised or lectured, but cheerfully assured that they would get right on it. And in a few hours, power was restored.

When I came to Jesus, confessing my neglect and looking to Him for the strength I needed to get through the rest of the day, He welcomed me with open arms. He always does. And He holds me as long as necessary, even as my childish nature continues to squirm to get back to the world and its distractions.

4. It is crucial to pray for one another. When someone is not plugged into the Power Source, the trouble with not recognizing the symptoms right away is that by the time the depressed feeling set in, that person often doesn’t have the emotional strength or mental clarity to pray. This is one reason the Bible tells us to pray for one another (James 5:16) and not to neglect the assembling of ourselves (Hebrews 10:25). We need one another!

Yes, God is our Power Source, but He works through His people. Do not try to walk out the Christian faith on your own! If you do, you may find yourself running on empty with no help in sight.

Prayer: Jesus, You are the Vine, and we are the branches. Without you we can do nothing. Forgive us for the times we have disconnected from You. Thank You for showing us when we are straying, and for drawing us back to You – and back to one another. In Your name we pray. Amen.

33 thoughts on “Running on Empty

      1. 🤔I was hoping you were a little more attentive than I am.

        I suppose there are alarms that operate off rechargeable batteries. We can order almost anything online these days. If you decide to get such an alarm, you may wish to get one that does not go off when the power just drops off momentarily. That could be a nuisance.

        Since I have a high frequency hearing loss, I would have to be careful to order an alarm I can hear. Hopefully, you don’t have that problem.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Good post! We have a joke in my circle about feelings, could be a warning, could be your intuition…..or you could just be coming down with the flu? Makes me laugh because feelings are wonderful things, but we sometimes forget we are mind, body, spirit. It’s possible you’ve ruined your whole life… or maybe you just need to eat some lunch?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hi Annie, I nodded my head when you mentioned getting sidetracked before your morning prayers. It is so easy to get sidetracked, and conversely, so necessary to engage the day with prayer. And the “coasting” usually does work, but not for long. I have to remind myself at times, even sternly, that nothing is more important than that early in the morning “connection”. God’s grace seems to change from a trickle to a stream, when you take the time to put Him first. And I’ve learned by experience, that I need that stream. But there are times when life seems to want me to forget that and just jump right in. That would be slow learner Bruce, so you’re not alone. When Jesus says that without Him we can do nothing, that’s pretty inclusive. Note to my mind, “Don’t forget!” Yet even when I forget, His grace is there waiting. Pretty amazing when you stop to think about it. Blessings!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ann, this was a good reminder. It is so easy to get preoccupied with things to be done that time with God gets set aside. And the coasting on prior spiritual fuel is true and as you said it lasts only a while. I was really struck by having a decreased awareness of things going sideways with our feelings when we do not pray and then we struggle to pray, that is so very true. I do find worship songs helps at that time.
    Thanks Ann, you always make me think.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Ann, our contemporary society seems to be governed by feelings. In light of that, I really appreciate what you shared. I also appreciate what you wrote about confession; the Lord always welcomes us with open arms when we do that–and it just “feels” so good to do it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Add me to the list. May we all seek His face for life can get you down but we are more than conquerors in Crust Jesus. As Bruce pointed out, I can’t even walk [the walk] without He holds my hand. He is the vine, In Him is life and that life is the light is the light of the world. We can’t be salt and light if the connection is down. God is so good! His loving kindness and mercy have no end!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good word. We too often wait until we are totally empty to seek help or recharge. I know I’m guilty of that: “Just another day. Just one more time. I can handle this. I’m okay, I just need to buck up.” Then boom, crisis mode hits. No power left. The good thing is, when we are knocked flat on our back, we are looking up!
    And yes, the ADD distractions are wonderful until we forget what they distracted us from. 😉


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