Running on Empty and Refueling Our Souls

Every year our family tries to get away somewhere for a couple of weeks (preferably to a warm destination!) just to rest, refuel, and build fun memories together. Some of our most precious and memorable moments have happened on these family getaways, and I've come to deeply cherish these vacations, despite the inevitable logistical challenges that come along with them (fifteen-hour car rides with bored, whiny kiddos; getting lost in the middle of the night on our way to the condo, etc.).

Whenever I'm on vacation, I’ve noticed the stark difference between our culture's mentality toward “rest and refueling” and that of Christ. Being around vacationers reminds me how we as humans are prone to run to anything and everything but God for our rest and refreshment. Most people's idea of effective “downtime” includes:

  • Suntanning by the pool for hours
  • Enjoying exotic food and drinks
  • Attending spectacular shows
  • Indulging in movie marathons
  • Going on shopping sprees

But during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He had a different solution to refresh Himself and refuel. Yes, Jesus periodically took “time away” from the demands of the crowds and from ministry’s intensity, but He didn't lounge on the beach or turn to worldly entertainment to find rest and new strength. Rather, the Bible describes several occasions when Jesus went to a mountain alone to pray or rose up early in the morning to spend time in God's presence:

  • “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
  • “And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray” (Mark 6:46).

Jesus carried more weight on His shoulders than any of us can ever even imagine. Yet He knew that spending time alone with God in prayer was the only way to gain strength for the battles He was called to fight.

Whenever I'm in need of rest, perspective, and new strength, I'm learning to look to the example of Christ to refuel instead of looking to the example of the world. There's nothing wrong with doing practical things in order to refuel and recharge. A long walk, a refreshing bike ride, an hour spent journaling outside in God's creation, an encouraging chat with a trusted friend, or a meaningful family vacation can be wonderful ways to gain a clear perspective. But it's important to not listen to the voice that whispers, You've been working so hard; you deserve some self-indulgence right about now. You can always spend time with God later. Put your spiritual life on hold for a while and focus on YOU.

Taking time away to refresh and refuel should be motivated by a desire to become stronger and more equipped to serve Jesus Christ—not simply to “escape” from the responsibilities of serving and living a godly life.

Over the past several years in ministry and motherhood, I have found that the best “me time” is actually not “me time” at all, but “God time.” Prayer, journaling, worship, and reading Christian biographies produce longer lasting refreshment to my soul than what I get from vegging in front of a movie or going on a shopping spree.

It's not that watching a movie or going shopping every now and then is harmful. But when I turn to those things for peace, rest, and satisfaction, they leave me empty and unfulfilled. On the other hand, whenever I say “no” to personal indulgences in order to say “yes” to time in the presence of God, I never regret it. In fact, I find all of the lasting joy, peace, and strength I need in Him.

Psalm 16:11 says that “pleasures forevermore” are at God's right hand. May we allow that reality prove true in our lives. Instead of looking to the empty allurements of the world to find refreshment, may we remember that He alone is the One who can fulfill us, revive us, and meet our every need.

The truest source of refueling our souls can ever find is time alone with our God! How can you make time to get your rest and refreshment from the Lord?

About the Author

Leslie Ludy

Leslie Ludy is a bestselling author and speaker with a passion for helping women become set-apart for Christ. She and her husband, Eric, have published more than twenty books with well over a million copies in print and translations in over a dozen languages, including When God Writes Your Love Story, Authentic Beauty, and Set Apart Femininity. Eric and Leslie live in Windsor, Colorado, with their six precious kiddos.