On Vapors and Grace (Coasting in Past Empty)

On August 1st my family hit the ground running knowing that we wouldn’t have time to stop and look behind us until the week of Thanksgiving. At the starting line it didn’t seem that long. I told myself that it was totally do-able, but by about September 27th I began to wonder if we were gonna make it. Then October came and September seemed easy.

For clarity’s sake, let me explain that for the past twelve weeks my son has gone to school for an average of ten hours a day only to come home to another two hours (or more) of homework. Every Friday night is marching band. Every Wednesday night is cell group – at our house. Weekends during the past twelve weeks have been consumed by marching competition, homecoming, youth retreats, an ACT exam, a car-wash fundraiser, and a new social experience - dating. Oh…and church. To his busy schedule add my own tutoring, subbing at school, and volunteering. These worthy pursuits take me out of the house and away from my home responsibilities which all have to be crammed back in somewhere. Not to mention that my husband deserves my attention at some point. That is, when he’s able to come up for air during breaks in studying for a major certification exam, working 50+ hours a week, covering on-call duties, and traveling.  Are you getting the picture?

We are out of gas.

My friend actually ran out of gas the other day just as she approached the station. She asked on Facebook if anyone had ever coasted in to the station past empty. I immediately thought of my family’s physical and emotional state and answered, “Yep!” I don’t know how we’re still standing. All I know is that we’re operating on vapors…and grace. We don’t have one drop of our own energy left.

I can imagine many of you nodding your heads and thinking of your own list of gas guzzling activities that just are our days and nights and weekends. This is life. But at some point we have to stop and consider the Source of our strength. I have to tell you that all this activity makes me a powerful prayer warrior. I don’t know what else to do! I have ceased experiencing the ability to manage the universe…much less my own life. IT has taken on a power of its own and it is bent on my destruction!! OK. That may be a bit of hyperbole, but sometimes it does feel as if my own life is sucking the life out of me. And you? Do you feel it too? Are you anticipating now that I’m about to give us both a lecture in chasing the wind, slowing down to smell the roses etc, etc? Nope. ‘Cause we both know it ain’t gonna happen. This time next year we’ll be right back here shaking our heads and wondering what in the Sam Hill is next, for heaven’s sake, and when do we get to rest!?  And next year I will have a Senior in High School. (Let’s don’t even go there.)

So…back to my point. The Source. There’s only one station we can coast in to when we’re running on vapors and grace way past empty. His strength is supernatural, and it’s available to us if we ask. Nothing preachy here. No deep spiritual message. Just a reminder to us both that He is there.

When my son was a little boy and he was way past empty in his ability to cope, he would often cry out, “Ha-ot me!!” (For those of you who don’t speak 3-year-old-Wil-Church-ese that means, “Help me!”) And he was sure that we would always answer. God will always answer too, and we don’t have to be any more eloquent than baby-Wil was. “Help me” usually works just fine, especially when we’ve even run out of suggestions as to how that would look. Mine usually goes something like this, “I got nuthin’, Lord.” And He fills me up with whatever I need to get me down the road just far enough to have to ask again. We think that’s exhausting. But there is a sweet kind of dependence in it that I’m sure pleases Him somehow. When life has left us empty and powerless on the side of the road He is pleased for us to realize and accept our utter helplessness without Him. He is the Source.

The madness that has become the holiday season is upon us, so gas up y’all and keep on gettin’ down the road. Rest is coming…He promised it…it just may not be around the next corner. Fire up your prayer life, take a deep drink from the Source and keep movin’. I’ll watch you to see how it’s done while I just take a little nap…just a little one…not too lo…zzzzzzzz.