Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Running on Empty?

Every year during the Lenten time I always feel a deeper sense of the wonder and grace of God's gift of salvation through His Son's death on the cross. I read something by CS Lewis in his Lenten readings that made me want to think even deeper.  He was talking (in an excerpt from Mere Christianity) about how so many people try to find happiness in anything other than God.

He says: "the reason it can never succeed is this.  God made us: invented us as man invents on engine.  A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else.  Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself.  He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.  There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion.  God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there.  There is no such thing," pg 54.

I have to be honest; I've not been fueling up as regularly as I ought.  I'm afraid that sometimes I've even let myself run on "E." And then I have to ask myself why I'm willingly running on fumes when I could fill up on God?  Why do I let myself get to this state--hoping and hoping that my tank doesn't run dry before my next "experience" at the pump?  I need to remember Lewis's quote and fill up daily.  Life with God is soul-fulfilling; it's not like a diet meal, either.  It's meat and potatoes in a Slim Fast world.

Before my spiritual tank runs low, I need to take daily Sustenance.  If He is the food my spirit is to feed on, I need to dine at that sumptuous table instead of nibble on the celery and carrot equivalent.  The soul doesn't need to diet (even if I do), and God provides a feast daily.  His mercies are new every morning. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ--not death, not life, not angels, not demons, not height, not depth.  These sayings are true and good; why do I deny myself this by waiting so long that I begin to run on empty?  I think it's because I try to feed myself; even when I know that my spirit runs on Him, I try to find ways to be happy on my own.

That's why this Lent and Easter I again sit at His table and know how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ.  I need to remember that I can never get too much at His table--and that it is with Christ Himself I am fulfilled.  Instead of filling myself with things that cannot satisfy, I take the Bread and sip the Wine that is His sacrifice.

I'm reminded of a story I heard once about the difference between heaven and hell.  A man went to the Pearly Gates and was given a choice.  He was shown to two rooms.  In each room there was a table filled with good drinks, sumptuous foods, and all manner of wonderful things.  In each room there were people gathered round the tables.  In each person's hand was the utensil that would allow him/her to eat of the food of the table.  The forks, however, were three feet long.  In one room, there was wailing, gnashing of teeth and starvation.  In the other room the people were happy, healthy, and fulfilled.  The difference?  In the first room each person was starving, despite the groaning table, simply because each person tried to feed him or herself.  In the second room, each person fed the person across from him or her, and each was filled.

I need to remember these things: well before I am running on empty and starving for fuel, I need to fill up on Christ. But, not only that... I need to share that Love of Christ with everyone around me so that they, too, are filled--and I need to let them be Christ's Ambassadors to me as well.