Picture this with me: winter in Canada, a Friday afternoon at 5 o’clock, quitting time at the office building where I was working. It had snowed all day (what else is new?). It was still flurrying a bit with a bitter wind contributing to the thrill of the adventure ahead. The parking lot was a disaster with only a few lanes plowed. Everyone was having to shovel themselves out of their parking spaces, maxed-out happiness the reigning atmosphere. I finally got my car cleared out and maneuvered out of my space and into the emboutteillage (the great French word meaning a corked bottle – equivalent of our bottleneck). We were inching agonizingly forward, stopping completely every once in a while to help dig out, or push, a car that was stuck, when it happened. My car died! I tried several times to restart it, but nothing. Adding to the already frigid temperature, the chilling realization hit me. I was out of gas, in the only open exit lane, with at least fifty cars behind me. Now, if you’ve not spent time in a northern climate, in a sparsely plowed parking lot, in Friday afternoon rush hour, with snowbanks rising four to five feet each side of your escape route, you probably won’t be able to imagine the sheer terror involved in (gulp) opening the car door and (double gulp) abandoning the now fumes-only, butterscotch Chevy Vega in a humiliating search for a gas station – with no gas container! I was 21, a relatively new driver, shy (as you all well know!), and trudging past the harsh, honking horns of shame. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. By the time I returned with gas in a can borrowed from the service station, my car was the only one left, all the others having somehow managed to come up with another means of egress (to those of you who just said, “Poor Don!” Thank you! Your sympathizing is much appreciated).
Since our brains are designed to run on joy like my car was designed to run on gas (FYI: I’ve not run out of gas since!), having an empty joy tank can cause equally distressing circumstances. I mean, who knows how many people will be joy-stranded behind us because of inattention to our tanks? And since the world we inhabit is neither designed nor inclined to fill those all-important tanks, it is super important to know what, or Who, will. As fellow journeyers on this earthly trek to the Father’s heart, we have a knowing in our knowers that Jesus is the only Joy Tank Filler Upper. Joy is only present in his Presence. King David says: “It’s impossible to disappear from you or to ask the darkness to hide me, for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.” Ps. 139:11, TPT. Here are situations where we may run low on joy: sorrow, pain, trouble, misery, melancholy, grief, affliction, tears, depression, despondency, despair. These things can interrupt all our journeys from time to time. But we are stronger together! Looking forward to another fill-up tomorrow morning! PD