Our Thought for the Week comes from Alan Brand, EBA Trustees and minister at ‘Renew’, Lode, Cambridgeshire.
Running on empty
The onboard computer in my car tells me I’ve got enough fuel in the tank to travel 4 miles. It’s 4.3 miles to the nearest petrol station, not to mention the school run I have to do first! I spent a moment last night beating myself up about how, ‘I always let this happen’ and ‘why didn’t I just put some fuel in last time I was near the petrol station’. I very nearly drew a cheap parallel between the empty fuel tank and my own current feeling of emptiness.
I’m sitting at my desk; my first day alone in the house since the beginning of Lockdown 1, expecting to feel relieved, excited, hopeful, ready to go … and I feel empty.
It’s very easy to say [to myself], “Come on Alan, snap out of it, you just need some fuel; read some scripture, spend some time in prayer, feed your soul, realise how blessed you are, then crack on with what you’ve got to do!”
The thing is, I am fresh back from a walk with our dog, Barney, and before that I had enjoyed some time in scripture and Lenten reflection, and I do regularly give thanks for God’s blessings in my life. Of course, the reality is, it’s much more complicated dealing with a feeling of emptiness, than it is dealing with an empty fuel tank.
The potential contributing factors and facets to our emotional state are many – some known to us, and some maybe unknown to us. There are feelings, experiences, situations going on at the moment that I do not understand.
I’m thinking / praying, “God, I want this ‘thought for the week’ to be encouraging for everyone, and I feel like I’ve got nothing to share!”
I start reading Psalm 139 (1-12) and it feels like a response from God, speaking into the way I am feeling that I hadn’t been able to articulate. I am so unbelievably thankful that God always understands me. God always knows me. God always knows why. God is always with me. God always sees me; Hallelujah!
Psalm 139.12 says, “It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.” (MSG)
This verse really resonates deep in my spirit today, and I pray it does for at least some of you reading this too.
I spent some time considering the dark times I’ve seen, and gave God thanks for bringing me through. Isn’t it a privilege to journey with others through the storms of life, seeking to be a voice of hope in apparently hopeless, dark, stormy, empty times? I considered some advice, some wisdom I often share with people, “So far, God has a 100% track record of bringing you through the dark times and storms of life. Trust He will do the same again.” Then I was reminded of the Expressions of Faith from the Northumbrian Community’s Evening Prayer:
Expressions of Faith
Lord you have always given bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor, today I believe.
Lord you have always given strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak, today I believe.
Lord you have always given peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart, today I believe.
Lord you have always kept me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am, today I believe.
Lord you have always marked the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden, today I believe.
Lord, you have always lightened this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here, today I believe.
Lord you have always spoken when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now, today I believe. (https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/evening-prayer/)
If these words resonate in your spirit today, pray them again; remember
God’s faithfulness to you, name how you are feeling, and declare you will choose to believe today.
If these words are not speaking to you personally, pray them again, standing in solidarity with those you know and love who need to remember God’s faithfulness, who need the courage and vulnerability to be real before God and others, and who need to find the faith to believe, for today.
I added a sentence to the expression of faith:
Lord you have always filled me with good things to share;
and though I am empty, today I believe.
I wonder if there is a sentence in your heart following this pattern? Maybe you could make a note of it, paint it, sing it, declare it prayerfully before the Lord.
If you’d like to share your expression of faith, I’d love to see it (email@example.com).
May you know the filling of your whole self with the goodness of God, today.
The final in our series of short Lent reflections is now available on our YouTube channel https://youtu.be/QeLxeoDhQq8. This two minute video looks at the Devil offering Jesus all of the kingdoms of this world and then goes on to explore our attitude towards making sacrifices in following Jesus. You can also download a copy of the video to use in your own services using this link https://www.dropbox.com/s/jvab1clcezamh4s/Lent%205%20Do%20we%20want%20success%20without%20sacrifice.mp4?dl=0
Easter Resources, these can be found https://www.youtube.com/c/EasternBaptistAssociationUK/playlists
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