“Running on, running on empty. Running on, running blind. Running on, running into the sun, but I’m running behind.” – Jackson Browne. Title cut to his 1977 album.
We were turning into a corner service station in Greenville, Texas when she said, “We have to give old Misty a drink.” (Misty was my grandparent’s teal-green Oldsmobile at the time. She always named their cars like they did horses.) The “full service” attendant (That would be the smiling guy in the Air Force style cap with his starched white shirt and tie) asked how he could serve her. “Fill her up with Ethel,” she replied. His reply was something rarely heard in today’s lingo but standard in her time, “Yes ma’am. Right away, ma’am.” He opened the hood to check the fluids and wash the windshield as the gasoline was being pumped. She never left the car. She never swiped a credit card located on the gas pump. And therefore, she never smelled like gasoline. She paid the attendant there at her rolled down window and off we went. That’s how it used to be. I know, it’s a foreign idea to anyone under 50 years old.
It’s ironic that what I’ve witnessed in the last few days at the Texas gasoline pumps would remind me of the title I chose for my blog, “Fuel For The Race.”
If you don’t live in Texas you may not know there have been long lines at the gasoline pumps stretching out into the streets and down the lanes. In the 1946 classic movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” there’s a maddening scene of a bank run when the stock market crashed. It was true to life as the public panicked and ran to the banks to yank out their funds before it all disappeared. Experts call such crashes “social phenomena” where external economic events combine with the psychology of mob behavior in a domino reaction, resulting in sell-offs and mass hysteria. Some label it, “Herd behaviorism.” Very much like one spooked cow in a grazing herd of 100 can trigger a chain reaction resulting in a full-blown stampede. Some stampedes have been known to run straight off cliffs in a mad dash to a fictitious oasis of safety. How does THAT make you feel? Case in point, I saw a Dallas native being interviewed on a street corner. He was laughing at the panicked throngs of nervous, agitated drivers sitting in a line of cars some 30 vehicles deep. He wisely stated that he lived through the energy crisis in the Jimmy Carter years where drivers sat in long gas station lines. Rationing depended upon your licence plate ending in an odd or even number, coinciding with the odd or even calendar date. He commented that the 1970’s crisis was real and lengthy, but that this was just the public acting stupid. There was one lady in the pump line who HAD a full tank but brought a can with her, while the man behind her in line was running on fumes. As for me, all I saw were cows sitting behind the steering wheels (excuse the pun).
Compliments from Harvey (see my post from Aug 30), the Texas coastal oil platforms and refineries were interrupted and halted due to the hurricane and its aftermath. Energy experts weren’t caught off guard. They expected a hick-up, price per gallon temporarily rising, but not a devastating fuel shortage crisis. Plans for reserves, along with various other pipelines, would bridge the gap and are doing just that as I type. Meanwhile, we get to see the worst in the consumer behavior, in my opinion. The rushing run on gas pumps “caused” the temporary shortages, gas stations closing, pumps with yellow tape around them, etc. We, the people, caused our own crisis, short-lived as it may be. Forgive me if you were caught up in the fray. My intention is not to offend.
What we are observing in the post-Harvey wake, are clear indications of the waning “hope” barometer of our society as a whole. Let’s face it, there seems to be a spiraling of sorts across the world: Scenes of North Korea missile/bomb idiocy… Unheard-of international and domestic terrorism… The violent viciousness to shut down free speech… Then, there’s the public disdain for righteous thought and practice… The ongoing rising war against all things of Judaeo/Christian thought… The political numbness and gridlock from disregarding voter’s ballots… Videos of the bloody rioting and looting in the streets by thumb-suckers who can’t even balance a checkbook… Chicken Littles who rant and rave concerning planet warmth complete with CGI of rising tides that will erase half of the continents… Heightened ethnic uprisings among fellow citizens… Rumors of a possible new civil war… A radical move to erase whatever history some don’t want to be reminded of because it might hurt their feelings… While some are bankrolled to drive violent chaos in the public square, not even having an ideology or doctrine of their own… And on and on and on and on… Indeed, I could go on. There’s enough groaning to orbit the earth for another millennia.
The earth is trembling for peace and safety without a hint of solutions anytime soon. A simple hint of a small speed-bump in the Texas fuel pricing or flow is all it takes for “herd behavior” as the stampede tramples away at common sense and patience, while disregarding stable minds who pull back and see the larger true picture. Imagine, just imagine how the public of such a society will respond to an authentic crisis. We lead by fear, or so it seems. Do we not cause our own calamity in life? Do we not cause our own dry tanks? Do we not empty out our own energy reserves simply because of anticipated fears, folly and faithlessness? I’m sorry that I have lived long enough to see its foothills, but I believe we are witnesses to what erosion of true hope and faithlessness does.
No matter if you are an atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jew, Gentile, Christian, you might find the following words comforting, only if you hold back your knee-jerk bias of your leaning or preconceived positions. Try it and read the next paragraph.
A man, a dethroned prince, who was raised in religions that worshiped kings, queens and the sun, moon and stars was running on empty himself from a personal crisis. Without warning he was spoken to by God, the true One who he had not searched out, in the form of a bush that burned, yet not consumed. When he pulled up his bravery, he asked the voice coming from the burning branches to identify Himself. No doubt, coming from the most educated and most powerful kingdom on earth, he must have thought he might have studied this “god” in the list. The God answered in a mysterious way that speaks loudly to this very day and long after I’m gone. “I AM that I AM!” Unlike any other deity known in all the stone tablets, scrolls and bound leather volumes of earth’s history, this God envelopes time and continuum all wrapped in His personal name. In fact, like a perpetual looping, there is no beginning or ending, no before the alpha or after the omega, as He described His name to this man of royalty.
What is that to me? What is that to you? Plenty. I heard it explained in these terms and it’s truly the best deciphering of this name I can possibly deliver to you.
I AM in your past…right now. I AM in your present…right now. I AM in your future…right now. It’s difficult to wrap your arms around the idea. He was there with me before I got here. He is here now as I arrive. He is in my future when I arrive to see Him there. All encompassing.
Match THAT, gas tank. No need to run on empty. No need to BE emptied. No need to suck off of emptiness. Be fueled for the race.
“Some boast (trust) in chariots (4-cylinders),and some in horses (hybrid engines), but we will boast (trust) in the name of the LORD, our God.” – Psalm 20:7 (NAS & Alan’s interpretation commentary)