Tuesday, October 4, 2016


I stood at the gas pump at the neighborhood Gas Mart waiting for the gasoline to go through the hose into my gas tank. I looked at the display of fuel choices I had. Hmm. I think there must be some spiritual lesson here.

But I confess my sheer ignorance not only about what I'm putting in my tank, but what is under the hood of my car, or how my engine works. All I know is that when a little icon of a gas pump appears on my dashboard, I better head to the Gas Mart and do something about it. 

I have four wonderful know-how sons and if I had an “oops” and ran out of gas somewhere and had to call for one of them to rescue me, I wouldn't hear the last of it. I'm so proud that they are all auto-savvy in a big way, as are most males. I hold their knowledge and skills in the highest esteem. That's why I leave it to them to take care of their mom's vehicle. I never figured that I need to know anything mechanical since I always say that "I grew up in a men's dormitory," that is, in a house with my husband and four sons. Therefore, I have no idea what all those numbers and choices on the gas pump meant. I simply press “Regular” and slide my credit card through.

Since I recall the “ancient times,” I remember the days when full-service was the norm. A smiling attendant ran toward your car at the pump and cleaned your windshield and checked your oil and all the other whatevers under your hood as your gas was being pumped and it didn't cost extra. You didn't need to leave your car. All that service came with the package. 

When I was a child, my Daddy “ran a filling station,” as they used to say, in addition to my parents' little lunchroom along a highway in the Iowa countryside when the first of Henry Ford's “horseless carriages” rolled off the assembly line. Gasoline was gasoline, only one kind so you had no choice nor was a choice needed. I grew up smelling gasoline and oil on his “coveralls.”

Even when I learned to drive as a teenager, of course you always said “Fill 'er up!” because gasoline was so cheap compared to today's prices. Then came self-service and now you have to pump your own gas and do everything yourself. Since I grew up during the austerity of the Great Depression, by long habit I always get only $20 worth at a time instead of a fill up—I really don't know why because then I'm obliged to go to the pump too often.

Anyway, I decided I'd go home and find out what “Mr. Google” could tell me online about this grand display of fuel choices before me at the pump. I had no idea what the numbers meant. Google led me to more tech info than I wanted to know, but I'm trying to ferret out some analogy to spiritual life from it all. That's what I do.

It seems that “octane” measures the performance of engine fuels. The name comes from the following fact: When you take crude oil and "crack" it in a refinery, you end up getting hydrocarbon chains of different lengths. These can then be separated from each other and blended to form different fuels. Octane has eight carbons chained together.

The lowest octane rating sold in most U.S. markets is 87. The highest is usually 91. (Ah ha! My Sonoco display goes up to Ultra 93—are they offering to service some aircraft?) Other ratings available include 88, 89, and 90. When I press Regular, I get gasoline that contains 87-percent octane and 13-percent heptide molecules. It spontaneously ignites at a given compression level, and can only be used in engines that do not exceed that compression ratio. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend which gasoline octane rating to use in a particular vehicle. High performance sports and luxury cars often have the need for higher octane fuels to maintain peak performance. 

Whoa! I'm already way above my pay grade in knowledge that I really don't need to simply turn the starter key and drive my 2001 Toyota Avalon which has seen better days. Let's see if I can pick up on a few spiritual lessons with this scant information. 

As I start my day in the morning, I too have a choice in how much power I think that I will need to make it through the unexpecteds of the day. I never know what's really ahead—some days are fairly predictable so I anticipate that “Regular” will do it. However, it may not. I might find that things don't go as planned and there are surprising, overwhelming demands on my wisdom and strength. I really need to call on God's “Plus.” When everything breaks loose and nothing goes well and I'm at my wits' end, I have to call on God's “Premium” help just to keep me from going over the edge.

 God's promise is that His grace is sufficient for us, available whatever our need. When the burden is heavy, He gives us more grace. But we have to call on Him—we have to press the button to obtain it. 

Our Maker and Designer told us what our human model requires for peak performance. God actually created us to be continually “filled with the Holy Spirit,” to “keep topped off” with His power so we can function as we were meant to. “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you,” Jesus promised. We are supposed to live in the realm of “exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think” even beyond the 91 Premium to the “ULTRA 93.” “I have come to give you life and that more abundantly,” Jesus declared. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be our “new normal” as a Christian when we confront the world's adversities or even the hassles and frustrations of everyday living. It is really our choice.

When we live in that normal, supernatural anointing with the Spirit which is available for every Christian, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, not depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

That is ULTRA 93 Christian living! The gas pump has spoken!

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