Notes from Jan

Running on Empty?

July 24, 2023

That’s all it took. I ran out of gas. Once! It happened when we lived in Michigan, before children or cell phones. So walking to get gas was an unforgettable experience. Life’s in the details and I prefer panoramic views. As I’ve aged, I’m better at balancing the two.

During the pandemic, some of us hoarded. Like, just how many roles of toilet paper does one need? But fear of running out of essentials can morph into fear of running out of other stuff. Like when you’re my age, there are 83 years full of reasons to fear running out of time. So when tempted to plunge into panic, I groan a prayer. They’re like whimpers only the Holy Spirit can decipher.

Remember when God’s children found themselves fresh out of Egypt? Despite a miraculous crossing through the Red Sea, it didn’t take long before they ran out of gratitude. They forgot God’s faithfulness and hankered for the wrong stuff. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.”(Numbers 11:5, NLT) It didn’t take much deprivation to forget the price they really paid for those goodies. Still God didn’t send them packing. Instead, he sent manna, then quail. Amazing.


And yet, I get why hoarding manna, though forbidden, was thinkable. Life’s so daily and trust sometimes seems in short supply. I’m tempted to fret and try to control my tomorrows. I pray “Give us this day our daily bread” but hope there’s plenty leftover for tomorrow and beyond. And I prefer God’s provision to come in sets of three or more like at Costco. Add to my control needs, God’s view of life’s essentials often differs from my STRONG suggestions. Like I used to tell Jud, “I have the gift of advice.” He’s still laughing, I’m sure.

Well, one thing that’s come from trusting my life to Jesus over so many years is learning God’s faithful. Mostly it came with hindsight to see God in the details. But hindsight’s better than missing God altogether. And trust means Clutch Not. Like God’s children learned, hoarding manna out of greed or fear, meant whatever they stashed away for tomorrow rotted overnight.

Which circles me back from them to us. Dare we trust God again with our needs? Even harder, trust God with the final say on what we most need to “faith” our daily dreads? Our prayers for our children? Grands? The Church? Our hot and weary world? Housing? Meaningful work? And will we trust God for those deep needs for courage? Forgiveness? Hope? Patience? Joy? Wisdom? Healing? Companionship?

Well, it’s easier to write, fear not, than to do it. But, this I know. God loves us, remains awake and aware of what we need today. So trust, anyway. We don’t need to run on empty. Like Marilyn McEntyre simply states in Word by Word. “Eat the manna. More will come.”


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  • Reply Dale July 24, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks Jan. What I realized from your post is that God offers everything I don’t. This makes it hard (for me) to appreciate all He has to offer as I have none of it! On the other hand, being “empty” makes for lots of room to be filled and this, based on this blog, is my heart’s desire. Thanks so much, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 24, 2023 at 1:52 pm

      Your point is such a good one, my brother Dale. “Being empty makes for lots of room to be filled.” Knowing you and Marty, you’re ripe for a boatload of just-what-you-most-need- that God only knows. Praying for added strength for you today wrapped in JOY. Thinking of you makes me laugh and not like Jud laughed when I said “I have the gift of advice.”

  • Reply Evelyn Morgan July 24, 2023 at 8:45 pm

    Jan, you have a way of hitting the nail on the head. All the fretting in the world will not solve those problems that God knew about all the time. When I give it to Him, everything falls into place. His Will be Done. I think back to the long talks we had so many years ago, when you usually had good suggestions. Maybe not advice, but you have the Power to make Good Suggestions. Wish I had a roomie to share with now. God needed all my good buddies more than I did. At 85, good listening ears are at a premium. Not sure why He still leaves me here to be dependent on a few good hearted souls, mostly church family. Severe neuropathy keeps me quite confined, but I have a friend who God uses to take me to God’s house every Sunday. Being with God’s people and singing the old Hymns of the Faith are what keep me going through the next week. GOD IS SO GOOD!!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 25, 2023 at 9:16 am

      Yay! I love hearing from you, my “roomie” from all those years ago in college. Thanks, dear Evie, for staying connected and contributing to the blog with your comments. I, like you, don’t know what I’d do without The Church. And the hymns link me with generations before.
      I’m grateful you have a good friend who “gets you to the church on time..” Remember that song from My Fair Lady? One day we’ll be together again to enjoy and join heaven’s choir. I’m still an alto and you’re a soprano. Imagine those sounds of music! There’ll be no time limitations so we can talk forever about ways Jesus provided and loved us no matter what. Meanwhile we live with gratitude and hope. And we pray. It’s a holy vocation and a big part of why we’re still here. On another note, as I recall, you had some “suggestions” as well. And whatever we said to each other has kept us friends for a very long time.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe July 25, 2023 at 10:38 am

    Jan, I have run on empty – or nearly so – for so much of my life because of what I know now to be FOMO. Not the Fear of Missing Out as much as the Fear of Missing Opportunities. I wince when people say I’m “the busiest woman they know” because I’m not sure I want to be that person. As a new septuagenarian, I’m asking God for greater intentionality in my do-ings. So appreciate your writing. I never miss a post.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 25, 2023 at 1:48 pm

      Well, some of it’s because you’re Norwegian. Our engines don’t idle well. But I can assure you that aging helps. Thanks, always, for reading, dear Maggie, and adding to the post with your comments. I take solace in God’s reminders to be still. Now, that I’m in my eighties I do it more often and with less Norwegian and church-y guilt.

  • Reply Jill A Loomis July 25, 2023 at 11:22 am

    As usual, just what I needed today! Thank you for being God’s eloquent messenger.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 25, 2023 at 1:54 pm

      Well, over the years I’ve been called a lot of things but never “God’s eloquent messenger.” Thanks for the reminder that while I share personal stories, none of this is about me when all’s said and done. But I sure enjoyed the compliment, dear Jill. Thanks for reading and responding. Both encourage me to keep on.

  • Reply Kristen McCary Turner July 31, 2023 at 10:51 am

    This particular blog really resonated with me! I’ve often connected to the Israelites and their lack of contentment. I am ungrateful and entitled. The Lord continues to amaze me with his grace and mercy even when I am so clearly acting like a spoiled brat:). Jan, I love your blog and this encouraged my soul today. It brings me back to my humanity and my need for a savior. What a mess I would be without the extravagant grace of our Lord Jesus.

    Bless you, and your words!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 11, 2023 at 4:54 pm

      Oh, very dear Kristen, it’s been a while since I heard from your amazing parents. So it’s a surprise and super treat to read this response from you. I’ve just returned from from a couple of weeks in North Carolina. So, I’m still on beach time. S l o w. And we had a such a great time with the whole family there. I’m so grateful this post meant something to you. It spoke to me first. We all need a savior. Some of us just take longer than others to catch on. Hug Pat and Diane for me, when you see them. And blessings on you and your family.

  • Reply Wendy July 31, 2023 at 11:13 am

    Oh so good Jan! I think I’ve got this “trust” thing down, and then… I don’t! Thank you for the encouragement and reminders of how faithful God is, how good He is. One of my favorite songs goes “All my life you have been faithful, all my life you have been so, so good, with every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God!”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 11, 2023 at 4:55 pm

      Amen, dear Wendy! Thanks for adding to the blog with the lyrics from a song. So true. God is so faithful. Love always to you, Steve and your family.

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