Updated: Jul 22, 2020
When our kids were small, we had a favorite question we often asked them. “Do you need your love tank filled?” Inevitably, whichever child was the recipient of that query would squeal with delight and answer with an enthusiastic “Yes!” He or she was then scooped up into a bear hug and gently shaken up and down to the sound of a gas tank being filled, “Glug glug, glug glug, glug glug.” This process would end with a loud “ding”(remember when gas pumps used to make that sound?) and the child was released from the embrace, satisfied and merrily going along their way with their love tank filled to the brim. These encounters were most often initiated by me or Ana Liza, but on occasion, they were initiated by one of our kids. In the midst of having a bad day or finding themselves in a bad mood, the affected child would declare to the nearest parent, “I need my love tank filled!” And more often than not, our simple ritual would do the trick to improve their spirits.
Over the years I have come to understand that love tanks are not just for kids. Adults have them, too. And though I often experience the level of my tank rising with the love that comes from family and friends, it never seems to be enough to get me to full capacity. That’s because there is a part of each of our love tanks that only God can fill. I know this. I teach about it all the time. And yet all too often I’ve struggled to experience it in my own life. If I’m honest with myself, there have been far too many days where I’ve walked around with a tank that was closer to EMPTY than FULL.
The apostle Paul understood this predicament. Look closely at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church:
“I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
If being filled with God’s love happened automatically, then Paul would have no need to pray this prayer. Paul understands that the church is at its best when all believers are overflowing with God’s love. It seems, now more than ever, we live in a world that desperately needs to experience that overflow.
Lately, it has been a growth edge for me to recognize when my love tank is low. In this season marked by pandemic and protest, I find myself feeling drained more quickly. It’s like my soul is an old iPhone battery that has lost its’ ability to hold a charge very well. In those moments, I sense God’s invitation to bring my emptiness to him. “I need my love tank filled” is a prayer that I’m praying with greater frequency and expectancy. As I bring my need to God, I picture Jesus wrapping his arms around me in a big bear hug and whispering, “Glug glug, glug glug, glug glug” into my ear. Ding! Love tank filled.
What about you? How full is your love tank? May you, like the believers in Ephesus, be filled entirely with the fullness of God.