You’re overdrawn.  Insufficient funds.  Your card has been denied.

Whether a notice from the bank, words on the ATM machine screen screaming back at me or the worker at the checkout that speaks just loudly enough that the customer behind can hear, no matter how the words are arranged or where they are spoken, they all mean the same thing: I’m trying to draw on something I don’t have enough of–money. I’ve faced this situation more often than I care to admit, and every time it strikes a chord of panic deep down as if it’s the first time.

One time I knew for days I needed to get to the bank to cover a check I’d written.  Though only ten dollars short, experience had taught me it would cost me more to make it right when it was time to pay up. Procrastination got the better of me, and I got caught short. Not only did I owe the bank ten dollars, but they collected a hefty fine for covering me! How could I be so lazy? And what was I thinking to begin with, writing a check when the money wasn’t there to back it up. I knew better.

I love the dictionary’s definition of overdrawn: to strain, as a bow, by drawing too far. Being overdrawn is a strain. Not only that, it’s financially irresponsible and sinful. I would argue that being overdrawn spiritually is no less sinful. There’s simply no reason for it. In fact, 2 Peter 1:3 has this to say:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us.” (NIV)

Our knowledge of God comes from spending time with Him. Why in the world would we not take advantage of time spent with Him in His Word rather than scraping the bottom of the barrel for any last shred of strength we can find to do this life successfully? Why would we run on fumes? As crazy as it seems that we would attempt to pay for something with money we don’t have in the hopes that it will magically appear, it’s just as crazy that we would attempt to do whatever it is that God has given us to do on any given day without His help.

This idea of running on empty becomes so real on the days when I pick my kids up from school, and the looks on their faces tell me they haven’t had a good day.  I have a 12-year old and a 14-year old. Need I say more? No matter how irrational their tears or anger, if one of them is upset because of a look or a word spoken by someone else, my mother bear instincts rise up and I’m ready to claw out the eyes of the offender! Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But how often do we look at offenses against us or our loved ones or the offender with the wrong attitude? Often it’s because we’re tired, we’ve had a long day ourselves, and we simply haven’t taken the time to give the day to God and ask Him for His perspective on people. Maybe the offensive word wasn’t meant that way. Maybe the offender has deep hurts of their own that they are caught up in. How would we know?

I have no hope of steering my kids into this realm of thinking outside themselves if I’m not doing it myself. And I can guarantee that this is not happening in my life if I am drawing from mere human strength. It’s like writing spiritual checks with nothing in the account to back them up.  If I haven’t spent time with God all of my efforts fizzle quickly, and I find myself tired and frustrated.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me-watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly”  (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message).

An invitation to “learn the unforced rhythms of grace?”  Really?  I could use a little of that. Sounds like an invitation to spend time in a hammock being rocked to sleep by a warm gentle breeze. And indeed, rest is what we find when we come to Him. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had myself so worked up over the smallest thing only to finally stop, hand it over to God and experience rest and peace. What if we started our day like that, filling up the spiritual bank before life comes collecting? How much better prepared would we be for whatever the day brings?

We were never meant to do this life alone. God is not impressed with our attempt at being a one-woman show. John 15:5 is a smack in the head for people like me who attempt to live independently of God’s help.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV).

Can’t argue with that.

While I know time with God is never wasted, I can hear the enemy speak contrary to that whispering, You can do this later. What about getting that laundry done? Watch the news first.  Everyone of us has a reason why spending time with God can be done later, or why it’s not a priority. For me, I’m either running at insane speeds and haven’t taken the time to slow down and think about God let alone spend time with Him, or I’ve turned my ear to procrastination. Either way, I’ve missed out on laying my burdens before Jesus before they become so heavy I barely have the strength to pass them off to Him. Or I’ve missed out on something spectacular that He wanted to say to me that could have changed the course of my day completely. I have learned that walking out my front door without first giving my day to God is as crazy as setting out on a road trip with no gas in the car or writing a check without money in the bank to cover it.  We can do better.

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