This week the gulf coast has been bracing for the potential hit of Hurricane Barry. The highway marquees that normally warn of construction, lane closures, or accidents up ahead flashed a different message in Texas: “FILL YOUR GAS TANK. STORM FORMING IN GULF. BE PREPARED.”
This relative of Harvey (who overstayed his welcome not even two years ago) isn’t being met with a warm welcome in Houston. We say a collective, “go home,” but we can’t control the weather. We can’t control much of what life pours out on us for sure, but we can control what we pour in.
The advice to fill my tank just in case, is familiar. When I first started driving at 16, my grandfather lectured me about keeping my gas tank full. He insisted I never let the gauge get below a quarter of a tank. He said it wasn’t good for the engine. He also didn’t want me to get stranded. He told me to use the premium fuel. All good grandfatherly advice. And while I wasn’t intentionally trying to ignore his words, the fuel light became a fixture on my instrument panel.
Back then, gas hovered just below a dollar per gallon and I remember it took around $12 to fill up my tank once I had driven a few extra miles on the light. I looked up the fuel capacity of my first car, the 1989 Nissan Sentra, and it was 13.2 gallons. That totally confirms my suspicions that I usually pushed the limits in a way that should have been a little too close for comfort. But, what did I know? I was just a kid, right?
Unfortunately, too many of us live our lives this way even still. And not just when it comes to our vehicle’s gas tanks. We run around with our personal fuel tanks on empty. We get a warning in one form or another, then we push it a few extra miles. We look around, panicked, and rush to the nearest, most convenient place to fill up. At that point, we take whatever we can get our hands on, no matter the cost and then wonder why our performance is sub-par. And the cycle continues.
Good news! We can take my grandfather’s advice for our cars and translate it into our lives as a whole. We can make sure our tanks are full of the quality things what we need to carry us where we want and need to go.
Don’t let your tank get below a quarter of a tank. Keep your life tanks full. Find what fills you up and do that. Read your Bible. Pray. Meditate. Worship. Call a good friend. Visit family. Eat healthy foods. Take a walk. Don’t wait until you’re putting around on fumes to find some fuel. If you do, you’re more likely to fill up with whatever is closest, not necessarily what’s best.
Don’t get stranded. We have run out of gas before on the highway. No fun. It didn’t happen because the gauge was broken or because we didn’t know better, it happened because we were distracted. We heard the ding and the light was on the dash, we just didn’t pay attention to the signals. And we got stranded. Focus on what’s important and fuel up often. Pay attention to how far you’ve gone without making a stop. Also, make sure to bring people along with you in all parts of your journey, so you can help each other out when you need it.
Use the premium. Quality, not just quantity is key when it comes to filling up your life tank. Set aside meaningful time with God. Keep quality friendships close and toxic ones far. Eat real foods, not just ones that fill your belly with junk. Really rest when it’s time to rest and actually concentrate when it’s time to work.
Well, it’s Monday morning now and it looks as if Hurricane Barry is going to miss Houston after all. But the season isn’t over and there will be threats and other storms to come. This is why it’s good practice to try and be consistently full not unsteady and empty. The weather and life are unpredictable. Fill your tanks. Storm forming. Be prepared.
How do you keep your life tank full?