Saturday, February 6, 2016

Running on Empty

 Late last year, I was totally caught off guard when I received a phone call from my son in love, Caleb, asking me what I was doing that day. “What a random call,” I thought to myself, as I listened to him chatter on. We made small talk for a few minutes and then, he got right to the point…”Mom, how would you like to come to Texas?” I almost dropped the phone, but managed to keep it from slipping from my hand. I pressed the phone a little tighter into my ear thinking I’d misheard him. “What did you say?” I asked. Once again, he repeated his question, “Mom, how would you like to come to Texas?” I told him I’d love to come. He knew I missed my oldest daughter and grandchildren more than anything. It had been a long time since I’d seen them. As I continued to listen, Caleb explained his plan. He was willing to drive all the way to Georgia to get me and then, turn right around and take me all the way back to Texas. Absurd!!! 900 miles each way and in less than 2 full days???!!! Yes, his plan was crazy, but it was a beautiful, wonderful, gift offered in love. I graciously accepted and cried at his kind offer. (Side note: The reason Caleb offered to come get me had to do with complications from my recent breast cancer surgery. I’d developed Lymphedema in my upper arms after the breast surgeon had determined cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. That swelling prevented me from flying so the only way I could get to Texas to see my loved ones was by automobile. Caleb explained he had a few days off work and he really wanted to do this for me, but he also wanted to do it for his wife, my daughter, Erin. She’d been struggling for several months feeling blue and missing her family. Caleb, in his generosity, wanted to give of himself and his time to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. So the plan was made for Caleb’s long drive and would be executed the following weekend.)

My husband and I were so worried about Caleb driving such a long distance with no one to relieve him. We began praying for God to sustain him as he prepared to leave Texas. All that week, we continued to pray. We asked God to keep Caleb alert and awake as he traveled and to provide mercy and protection along the way.

Caleb arrived late Friday evening, and when he got here, his face said it all…he was dead dog tired. (That’s a Southern Euphemism meaning he was more than exhausted…he could barely move.) We welcomed him in, talked a few minutes and then quickly ushered him into our guest room where he crashed hard.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early. Our plan was to get on the road before 5:00 a.m. After a few cups of coffee, Caleb seemed to have a second wind. I could barely believe he was able to function after only about 5-6 hours of sound sleep, but he was ready to go. We loaded up the car, said our goodbyes to my husband, and headed out into the pitch black, pre-dawn hour. We had 900 miles ahead of us so we knew it would be a long, long ride. Caleb was going to be driving the entire trip solo but I assured him I’d do my best to keep him alert and I’d be a good co-pilot.

Within our first twenty miles, we experienced an usual incident. As we merged onto the expressway, and crested the top of a small hill, a huge, ten point buck was standing smack dab in the middle of our lane! Thank God, Caleb saw it and madly honked his horn, causing the deer to jet off to the side of the road. We both breathed a silent prayer of relief. That deer could have caused a a fatal accident and both Caleb and I would have left our loved ones behind as we were instantly transported to glory.

The sun was starting to crest and we witnessed a beautiful sunrise. Glorious pinks, blues, and yellows streaked across the skies. The day was crisp and clear. Soft music on the radio made our travel pleasant and conversation light. The miles seemed to drift by and soon we were entering Alabama. We slipped through that state quickly and were just on the other side of Louisiana. We were making really good time! I glanced over at the gas gauge and saw it was quickly approaching a quarter of a tank. I asked Caleb if he wanted to stop and get gas and he replied he would do that soon. On we drove and as we traveled, I continued to watch the gauge. It was getting closer and closer to E. I began to get nervous and looked around for the nearest gas station. Caleb seemed content to keep driving. I had no idea how much longer we could go before we’d be completely empty, but I knew it wouldn’t be much longer. I didn’t want to bug him about stopping to refuel, but I was very concerned. It would be scary to break down on the highway, so I began to pray…“God, we’re almost on empty. We really need gas and I don’t see a gas station anywhere. Please get us to one soon!”

Casually, I leaned over again so I could see the instrument panel. The needle on the gas gauge had reached a point where it had stopped moving. It was sitting exactly on E. Empty. EMPTY!!! I felt my hands curl tightly in my lap, indicating my fear was real. Would we make it? In just a few more miles, Caleb pulled into a gas station. Praise God! Just in the nick of time! As he was pumping the gas into the car, I felt my hands release their tension and I felt my heart slow down a bit. I was glad I hadn’t pushed Caleb to stop earlier because if I had, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have heard God’s silent whisper in my ear…“When you finally come to Me completely empty, I can fill you with more than you dream possible. Bonnie, you must learn to trust Me.” Wow. That was intense! Yes, Lord, I hear you…

For most of us, being on empty is a scary thing! I know it is for me! But, sometimes, it can be a good thing. When we empty ourselves of all the “junk” the world dishes out on a daily basis, we can empty ourselves preparing a huge void that God can, in turn, fill with His love and truth; but, we can’t take it in if there isn’t any empty space to contain it.

With the tank full again, we eased back onto the highway and were off. Caleb was enjoying a nice, hot cup of coffee and I was thanking God for His reminder that being empty is sometimes exactly where He wants us to be.
© bonnie annis all rights reserved

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