Just Above The “E!”

WORDS FROM W.W. August 12, 2010
“Just Above The ‘E’!”
I remember traveling in my Civic up to Casper, Wyoming, about a year ago. My little car gets pretty good gas mileage, but it was getting dangerously close to touching the top of the “E” on the gas gauge. The caution light that is shaped like a gas pump was intensifying. Casper was still about 15 miles away. I prayed that car into a Diamond Shamrock station at the first Casper exit. The fuel tank coughed at me when I opened the fuel cap.
There are many days in our life that are lived just above the “E”. We’re pretty sure how much has gone out of our tank, but we’re uncertain as to how much is left in the tank. We’re just trying to get to the next point, the next moment, the next day. We can super-spiritualize it with how through Christ all things are possible, and how God is the Lord of the impossible, but we often try to tippy-toe around the scriptures that talk about Sabbath rest, and even Jesus getting off by himself for some quiet time.
And I’m guilty as charged! My 22 year old baby said to me last week, “Dad, you work too much!” And I’m trying to do better. I could give all kinds of excuses, but the bottom line is she’s right. I live a lot of my life just above the “E”.
The other factor is that each one of us is different. When we were driving up to British Columbia on our mission trip, the Odyssey van that was pulling a trailer had to be refueled a lot more often than the other vehicle. It was pulling a lot heavier load. The descent to the “E” didn’t take very long.
Each one of us is different as well. When we’re pulling a heavy load in our life it’s a time period when we get to the drained point more quickly. Those “loads” could be family stresses, job difficulties, school deadlines, sicknesses of people close to us, people placing more and more demands and/or expectation on us. The “E” arrives “early.”
Other people have an “E” that could more easily stand for “endurance”. They go like a compact car for longer distances, longer periods of time. Long after others have had to pull to the side, they are like the “Eveready Bunny”- still going. They may not be able to carry heavy loads, but they can steadily proceed with a lighter load. At some time, however, they too come to the point where they are just above the “E”.
Each of us need people in our lives who “encourage” us when we’re reaching the out-of-gas point. Encouragement can sometimes mean “exit here” before it’s too late; and encouragement can sometimes mean “excellence” is taking place.
Just above the “E” is a danger zone where unwise decisions can be made. I was talking to someone recently who was experiencing another “E”- exhausted. I used another “E”- encouraged- to advise him not to make any major decisions for a certain length of time. In other words, pull to the side and pray before going on your way. Although, as my daughter has painfully pointed out, I work too much I’ve learned to recognize when I’m just above the “E”, and hold off on proceeding carelessly.
The same could be said about congregations and ministry teams. Do we recognize our most vulnerable, and often irrational, times, and pull to the side for a while? Do we allow our churches to have periods of rest when moving forward at that moment could bring us to the brink of destructive behavior? Do we recognize that God doesn’t always give us a green light?
Just above the E.”

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3 Comments on “Just Above The “E!””

  1. Pam Says:

    Here’s another “E” I experience when running on empty: ‘E’motional and I appreciate the ‘E’ncouragement of others who care and need their Encouragement that it’s okay to pull over and take time to refuel. This ‘e’mail (okay, it’s a blog, but wanted to keep on with the alliteration), was a great reminder that on this journey we’re all on the same road, just different areas of the map. Some are carrying the heavy load uphill on the unpaved, rocky road and their tank is on the ‘E’, while others have just gotten a fill-up at a great price and are at a better place to Encourage the others. I have to remember that the way I respond to people/situations depends on where I am on the journey and how close my tank is to the ‘E’, and so is everyone else. Maybe then I won’t take things so personally, which drains my tank real fast. Hmmm … good stuff to think about. Thanks!

  2. Laura Patterson Says:

    Boy can I relate to this one. This weekend was crazy and I was pulled in several different directions. Only to feel like I couldn’t give anymore to anyone. Then a wise friend (hint Bill) once told me even Jesus took a brake from it all and got away to be by himself. So I took a walk tonight. Thanks Bill for your wise advise so many years ago. I often am reminded of that conversation and try to not feel guilty about taking time out of the craziness for refueling me!!

  3. Charly Says:

    That’s a great reminder… too often I go from “E” empty to “O” for overdrawn… Ya, I like the E for encouragement!!!

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