Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 28, 2010

an empty “can”

Do you ever come to a turn in the road and sense that your emotional tank is on empty? It may not sound spiritual to admit it, but I do. As you advance in your journey, I am inclined to believe that you (like me) often feel like you are running on fumes. If not careful, you will find that your emotional equilibrium has many “tank drains” with very few “fill-ups”. If you have followed Christ for any length of time, you can glowingly articulate key verses of scripture that give hope. But if you are honestly struggling to not “stall out”, something needs to change. My trust is the next few thoughts are just the journey fuel that you need this week.

Over the years a friend from another century has blessed me. He is my friend because of his mentoring in my life through his journey. Hudson Taylor was serving God in China, sacrificing for God’s purpose and running on empty. Something happened that changed his life forever and the principle is timeless. From the book of his life, “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret”, look at what happened.

“Then came the question, is there no rescue? Must it be thus to the end-constant conflict, and too often defeat? How could I preach with sincerity that, to those who receive Jesus, “to them gave he the power to become the sons of God” (i.e. Godlike) when it was not so in my own experience? Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting low. I hated myself, I hated my sin, yet gained no strength against it. I felt I was a child of God. His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all, “Abba Father.” But to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless.”(p.159)

If you have ever sensed that your emotions were starting to stall-out, you probably have a strong connection to what Hudson Taylor felt. But there was a fill-up on his travels. In a letter from a friend, the Holy Spirit opened him to his answer. It was short, but life changing.

“But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting in the Faithful One.”(p. 160)

He was trying too hard to generate faith, and not understanding that he could simply rest in the Faithful One. He grabbed the principle and stopped striving.  Rest came! Our culture is all about striving to succeed. Although we know better, “I can do it” logic bleeds into our spiritual journey. For years, I was working (striving) to have His rest. Are you willing to quit trying so hard to grow in faith, and willing to rest in the Faithful One? When the emphasis moves from our striving, to His all-powerful, infinite care for us, there is a change that takes place. I call it rest!

Life will continue to have its travel twists and turns, but you no longer need to feel like you are running on fumes. God’s design is not for His children to feel empty. He is waiting to give you a fill-up of emotional and spiritual energy for the next leg of your journey. It won’t cost you $4 a gallon and you can’t generate the fuel on your own. Stop trying so hard to be faithful, and listen to my mentor: rest in the Faithful One.

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