Running on “E”

Running on “E”

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

 

I have been thinking about the incredible value found in learning to say “no” to good things in order to say “yes” to great things. When I first started out in full time ministry, I did not understand how to say no to good things or steward my time well. I felt I had to be available for everyone, all of the time. This kind of lifestyle, as you might imagine, did not leave much time for self care and time alone with the Father.

I remember a particularly busy season where I had been pushing myself pretty hard. Between deadlines, meetings, travel and speaking-I was busy. One morning, I woke up and could feel my heart needing time with Jesus. As I was sitting there in the quiet with Him, I heard God speak to my heart that I was running on fumes. I instantly had a picture pop into my head of a fuel gauge on a car where the dial was on empty and a red light was flashing a warning. I realized that God was warning me that in all of the busyness, I had not carved out space to refuel and instead my internal gas light was on and I had been cruising on fumes.

Have you ever been driving your car on empty where the “fuel is low” light is flashing and you’re just praying you make it to the first available gas station? You panic, pray and try to coast until finally you arrive at a gas station. And what a relief it is when you fill up that gas tank and drive off with a full tank of gas-oh the peace you feel! I think we all know that gas game and I have been guilty of playing it more times than I care to admit. The thing is, in the long term, that’s a terrible thing to do to your car.

Most cars have an electric fuel pump and this pump rests inside the tank actually submerged in the fuel. Submersion helps the pump to stay lubricated and therefore cool. Without this submergence in fuel, the pump can self-destruct from overheating. The reserve fuel inside your tank helps to prevent the overheating but reserve fuel only lasts so long. Obviously you can’t run on an empty tank forever but even if every time you get low and put in just enough gas to get by- your pump can fail earlier than normal. Not to mention that the fuel pump is also taking in the bottom of the barrel-literally and it is full of debris.

I can’t help but compare this situation to our spiritual gas pump. I find that in the busyness of ministry we are often running on reserve fuel or yesterday’s revelation and last week’s time with Jesus. Or we can be scraping the bottom of the barrel for energy or any remnants of spirituality.  But just like the car, the reserve fuel will run out and fumes from the reserve fuel will only get you so far. But a long term preventative measure to pump breakdown is to put gas in the tank of your car before the reserve fuel kicks on.

I believe it is the same way for our spiritual life and that a preventative measure is to be intentional about time and rest with God rather than pushing ourselves on empty and coming to a desperate breaking point. It took me some time to come to understand how important and honoring it was to manage my time well. God invites us into rest, it’s important to Him.

The verse above in Psalms is one of my favorite verses and it was written as a prayer from Moses. I often wonder what it would be like to go back in time and speak with Moses on the subject of leadership and time management-I would have loved to pick his brain! Here is a man leading an entire nation out of slavery and into freedom. Moses’ prayer in Psalm 90 gives us a glimpse of his heart and his wisdom to understand that life and freedom are a gift from God. We must choose wisely how to live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rice, Beans and Miracles Unseen

Rice, Beans and Miracles Unseen

I believe that miracles happen everyday but so often we don’t see them. A set back or an obstacle can occur and we become focused on a solution or the lack of one.
What if the only solution you had to a problem was a miracle?

Many years ago, I had the privilege of helping a friend who had started a feeding program and day center in a small town of Nicaragua. Our location at the time was a small place with limited space and one tiny bathroom. The roof was completely made of metal and the average temperature was 90 degrees. One particular week, the power and water had been turned off in the whole city and it was on day three of no power and water that we had the weekly scheduled feeding program.

We only had twenty kids signed up to eat that day. It had been a long, exhausting week and our small team of four had been spread pretty thin. Two hours before the children were to arrive, I sent the team off to grab lunch and run some errands, while I stayed behind with the cook to help feed the kids.

The time came and children began to arrive and with all twenty accounted for, I began to hand out plates of rice and beans. I was so relieved that due to the lack of resources we had exactly enough to feed everyone. As the kids were lining up with their plates, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door to find ten more kids piling into the tiny center. Not even five minutes later another knock and even more hungry faces entered. Before I knew it, more knocks came and we had four times our  original number of children to feed. It was chaos. I came into the kitchen to let the cook know about the new arrivals and was met with absolute panic as she informed me that we did not have near enough to feed them all.

I looked at all the kids staring up at me expectantly. I couldn’t call anyone because phone lines were down. I didn’t have any cash on me to buy anything. I was out of options. I turned back to the cook and asked to see the pot of beans and rice. There it stood with the evidence of what she had said, we barely had enough.

I remembered the stories I had heard of people praying over food and God miraculously providing. So I prayed, “Okay God, we have to feed these kids. I pray that you provide food for every child here and increase our supply.” I waited, nothing happened. I am not sure what I was expecting, maybe the rice and beans to miraculously rise right before my eyes and come spilling out of the big, black pot. I had prayed in my heart language (English) instead of Spanish, so the cook looked at me with such confusion. To this woman, I appeared crazy kneeling down, talking to a pot of food on the ground. Crazy or not, I believed that God would help us feed every person there. I was desperate for Him to provide.  I turned to the cook and said, “Give an equal portion to every child and we will believe that all will eat today.”

We scooped out plate, after plate, after plate. Every single child that came that day ate not once, but twice. It was the craziest thing. The rice and beans were still the amount we started with and never changed in quantity even after every child ate twice! I couldn’t believe it and neither could the cook. We sent home leftovers for all of the children and we still had some in the pot.

That night I marveled at the miracle I had seen God bring to our humble, black pot of rice and beans. I knew the provision didn’t just come because of a need but because  of the love of God. He knew that it might be the only meal some children would receive that day. It always broke my heart on the weeks we had no leftovers to send home to those particular families. However, that day was different, that day we had more than enough for leftovers.

I pictured God’s absolute delight in loving on those kids and watching my shocked face every time I peered into the pot to see the quantity never seem to decrease.

While I have never seen beans and rice multiply quite like that again, I have never doubted that it could happen. When bills come rolling in, supplies are low, the van has a mechanical issue, or the washing machine has broken down, I remember that miracles happen.