Waiting for forty minutes in a queue for petrol the other day, I (Matthew) wondered how many of the cars around me were running on fumes, with their drivers praying that they would make it to the forecourt before their car broke down… and before the pumps ran dry!
Life’s circumstances are often a metaphor for our relationship with God. That’s why the Gospels are full of the parables of Jesus – stories with a meaning, wrapped up in a vivid example from day to day life. If Jesus were walking this earth now, I’m sure he would have made something of the current petrol crisis.
Instead, he simply tackled the issue of ‘running on empty’ mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually with these familiar words: – ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ (Matt 11:28-30) The way to refuel, particularly spiritually, is simply to come to Jesus and rest in his presence – to set aside times to stop and let him refuel us. It is a form of prayer – but not necessarily one that involves words. It simply involves taking time out from our busy lives and allowing God to renew us in whatever way he knows we need.
Jesus modelled it – he often withdrew to lonely places to pray. But even he got caught in delays on the way – on one occasion when he planned to take his disciples for a retreat, massive crowds followed them and they ended up feeding the 5,000. Even Jesus ran on empty at times – so much so that he slept through a life-threatening storm as his friends battled the wind and waves.
Not without reason are motorway services sometimes also called ‘rest areas’. Resting and refuelling are closely linked. Resting with God in prayer is the essential fuel we need in life… so, have we planned our daily, weekly, monthly and annual journey so that it allows for stops to rest and refuel before we get into the red zone? Because one thing’s for sure – although there may be diversions on the way, when we get there, there’s no queue, and no wait for enough lorry drivers to replenish God’s stocks of grace, of which there are unlimited supplies to draw upon to sustain us for the next part of our journey. As one church poster that Matthew used to pass on his commute through Guildford years ago so succinctly put it: – ‘Stop here for services’.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline