Running on Empty

“How precious is your unfailing love, O God!  All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings” Psalm 36:7 (NLT).


Grieving the loss of my mom has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to face. The experience has also been quite lonely and perplexing.  Everyone simply moves on with their lives while you are struggling to climb what feels like an escalator moving in the opposite direction.  You want life to stop long enough for you to remember how to breathe, but it does not stop.  It races forward unsympathetically while dragging your battered heart over every painful rut and pothole.

This week, I awoke each morning to what felt like a dense fog blanketing my heart.  The haunting darkness loomed over me throughout each day and I could not put words to the feelings … the aching emptiness.  It was as if I was desperately looking for something that I could not find.  I attempted to write, but simply found myself hopelessly staring at the cursor blinking rhythmically on the page.  I had several ideas for new blog posts.  In fact, if you were to peek inside my drafts folder, you would find seven, unfinished posts … some with nothing more than a title.  Yet, nothing felt quite right and I could not ascertain why.  I needed answers.

As I prayed last night, a memory came to my mind … an interaction I once had with my mom many years ago.  It is one of the precious few memories I have allowed to fully surface thus far.  I was in my early twenties and having a particularly hard time in life.  I had gone through a crushing divorce, had moved to a new state away from my friends and all that was familiar, and had started a new, stressful job. Sensing my low spirits during our conversation, my mom patted her lap and simply said, “come sit here and let me fill your love tank.” Of course, the notion seemed quite ridiculous to me at the time.  After all, I was a fighter and much too “mature” for such coddling.  What I would not give to have the same opportunity now!

I am grateful I found the courage to allow that memory to surface, as I believe God used it to teach me something important.  In that simple, sweet memory, there was a lesson … a little, hidden gem … about our need for God and His unfailing love.  Trudging through the mire that is grief while trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of life had depleted me. I was running on empty and needed, as my mom would say, to have my love tank filled.  I needed Jesus to look into my heart and show me the emptiness that only He could fill.

How many of us are sputtering or stalling out in life because we are running on empty?  How many of us depend on other means to satisfy our deepest needs only to find they are never enough?  I have looked to other people, longing for their approval and the affirmation that comes with it.  I have looked to positions and possessions, putting my hope in recognition.  I have thought, “if only I could or had … then I would be fulfilled.”  Sound familiar?

Proverbs 19:22 (NIV) says, “[w]hat a person desires is unfailing love.”  Searching for unconditional, unfailing love in all of the wrong faces and places leaves us exhausted, frustrated, and empty.  The Bible uses the phrase, “unfailing love” 32 times and not once is the phrase attributed to a person or thing.  Rather, it is attributed to God.  Why?  Because God is its only source.  Only His love can fill and fulfill the deep desires and empty places in our hearts.

God put a longing in our hearts to lead us back to Him … to be filled by Him.  It is His unconditional acceptance, approval, and affirmation that will quench our soul’s deepest thirst. Nothing else can replace it or will ever be enough.  Allow God to show you the empty places in your heart.  Ask him to lead you back to Him.  Have Him teach you how to position your heart to be filled and fulfilled by His promises and the power of His love.  I will be doing likewise.

© 2017 by Kelli Hammond Mills.  All rights reserved.


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