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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Empty and Full (06/04/09)

TITLE: Running on Empty
By Fiona Dorothy Stevenson


She grimaced at the email climbing up the screen while she slid the cursor down.

“We are writing to let you know that you’ve just reached 97% of your usage allowance…”

She glanced at the calendar: still a week before the allowance reset. She was running on empty again. The morning’s work had probably taken her over the top. She closed the computer down, gathered up the papers and retired to the kitchen. She needed a cup of tea before sorting through the paper work.

Leaning against the kitchen counter, waiting for the kettle to boil, she reflected on the number of occasions when she had quite literally run on empty.

Mother of a large family who shared one car, it seemed the only time she got to use it was when the petrol tank was empty, or almost so. After running out of fuel several times, she habitually checked the fuel gauge before starting. It also became habitual to keep a spare banknote hidden from acquisitive eyes with which to buy the fuel.

Then the time when unexpected visitors arrived, when ‘Mother Hubbard’s cupboard’ was very nearly bare. As was her purse. (Did I mention that her husband was a pastor whose congregation believed that their man of God should live by faith alone?) That night she discovered how far an uncooked cup of rice would extend a meager dinner for two when all are combined with a piquant sauce. Of course, replaying ‘the last time we met’ and the fellowship of tried and trusted friendship helped, filling the evening with gaiety and laughter.

Perhaps the worst time was when her emotional resources failed, and she ran away. Two days driving took her far from home and responsibility. Her finances ran out and in the evening so did the petrol. She sat at the top of the hill and watched the lights wink on in the town below. In the west, the sun drew down a glorious coverlet of gold.

It was almost dark when a small van drew up beside her and the driver offered assistance. She replied that she had friends in the town but did not have their address.

“If you don’t mind dropping me at the church I am sure they will be able to help. It is Youth night so there will be someone there.”

She had not been to the church, but she knew it in her ‘knower.’

He was on his way to fetch his wife from work, and was happy to be able to help. “I know the pastor,” he explained.

The church was in darkness. So was the pastor’s house.

He said, “I’ll just let my wife know. We have friends in the church. She may know a phone number…”

He pulled into the parking lot of a small shopping mall. A group of young people were singing on the sidewalk. She said, “Those are the young people from the church,” but he ran into the mall to speak to his wife. One of the girls came across to the van, stooped to the window and exclaimed, “I know you!”

They had met briefly some five or six years before. Another time, another place. Now the girl lived in this town, and it was indeed the young people from the church who were street witnessing at the mall.

When the worried knight-in-shining-armor returned to his van, he found the group gathered round. He relinquished his passenger to their care. They took her to her friends who accepted her unquestioned, and pampered her.

Her cup was emptied over time, becoming stained, cracked and chipped. God in His wisdom took time to cleanse and delicately repair the fabric of the cup before refilling it with the nectar of His sweetness.

Running on empty? Yes, and yet,,,

Jesus said to the woman at the well, “Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again. But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; …it shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Pouring water over the tealeaves, she reflected that in all the times when she had been running on empty in big and small ways, God had filled the emptinesses with His fullnesses, until the emptiness was no longer important, but only the fullness of the Lord.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Patricia Turner06/11/09
I like the ending very much - it's always good to remember when God has let us run on empty and then filled us up when we asked.
Phee Paradise 06/17/09
I enjoyed the story but it felt a little disjointed. I think it would have flowed better if you hadn't told it as a flashback.