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 “And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52)

One of our family members received an interesting Christmas gift recently.  Weeks before the big day, my mother and I went shopping at a major department store. While walking through the housewares department, she saw a condiment caddy which had been reduced to half-price. She remarked that it would be useful to have for picnics on the deck next summer. We paid for the item, and I saved it as one of her Christmas gifts. Since it was rather insignificant, I decided to have her open it first on Christmas. As I handed it to her – I became a little suspicious, because the package was very light. Sure enough, when she opened the box – there wasn’t anything inside. If nothing else, it did provide us with a few hearty laughs. The event reminded me of another incident that happened to me many years ago when I purchased a new car.  A day or so after the acquisition, I decided to take a long-distance drive to get a feel for how the car handled.  I chose a familiar destination within an hour from home. When I arrived there – all of a sudden, the car began to chug, sputter, and came to a halt. As anyone would do, I glanced down at the gas gauge to check the obvious. According to the indicator, I still had plenty of fuel. I then proceeded to phone the dealership where I purchased the car.  They willingly sent out a tow truck for the car, and it took us back home.  The next day they notified me that the reason for the shutdown was that there was, in fact, no gas in the tank.  Apparently the new car came fully-equipped with a faulty gas gauge. And there I was . . . trying to run on empty.

Emptiness comes in many forms. Sometimes when we go too long without eating, we might say that we are “getting a little empty.”  If the person at work who is responsible for supplies allows the inventory to be depleted, that emptiness can become problematic for the production staff.  If both our wallet and our bank account are empty, we are going to have to make some temporary lifestyle changes. And when we feel a sense of emptiness in our soul, then loneliness and despair can quickly lead to depression. At times, Christians may also feel spiritually empty if they have not maintained a vibrant connection with God. Each of us has no doubt experienced seasons where we have felt spiritually dry; we lack joy, and our faith is no longer infectious. The key to overcoming spiritual emptiness is to “fill up.” As a child of God, you possess that capability, because you have the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised inside of you (John 14:16-17). The great evangelist D. L. Moody understood this. When asked why he placed so much emphasis upon being filled with the Holy Spirit, he wisely said, ‘Because I leak.’

Spiritual emptiness is often caused by our own sinfulness or sluggishness in sustaining regular contact with God in our daily lives. We cannot expect much peace if we are always trying to run spiritually empty. Without a continuously-filled spiritual tank – our days are doomed to stress, anxiety, and frustration. When we ‘fill up’ by spending some quality time with Him, we will become revitalized and discover our faith is renewed. Jesus warned that it is dangerous to allow ourselves to become empty: “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation” (Matthew 12:43-45). So, dare to be different than your peers. Those who endeavor to maintain a full spiritual tank strive to be grounded in God’s Word and sustain a solid prayer life. If you are entering this new year or any transition in your life, you will want to make sure that you are well-fueled for whatever lies ahead. It’s downright misguided to think that just because one year ends and another begins you will permanently change your course. But when you find yourself presented with an empty box, there’s only one way to go. It’s only common sense to conclude that you won’t get very far when you are trying to face the journey ahead by running on empty. So why not fill up today?

REFLECTION: Do you recognize times when you your spiritual life just doesn’t seem as full as it once was? Do you have any signs of spiritual dryness in your life at the moment? How long have you felt this way? Think of times in the past when you have experienced a fulfilled life? What are some very practical things you can do this week to personally reconnect with God?


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