Running on Empty? - March 2020

By P. Daniel Buford     Do you see a pattern? The italicized words are related to the word replenish, the theme for this issue of Pentecostal Life.

Several things help individuals replenish themselves physically and mentally—weekends, vacations, sabbaticals, sabbaths, and naps. However, there are also some things that can replenish individuals spiritually.

According to Paul in Titus 3:5-7, God saved us “according to His mercy,” by the “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Ghost has a renewing, replenishing power.

At the end of my senior year in high school I experienced a time of challenge. I was wrestling with direction for my life and needed answers from God. One part of me wanted to go to Texas A & M and study to become a veterinarian. Another part of me wanted to yield to God’s gentle nudging to submit to His call to the ministry. I went to the Louisiana senior youth camp. I don’t remember who preached or what was preached, but I remember a dam bursting inside of me. During an altar service, with my spirit broken before God, I prayed and wept and spoke in tongues afresh. I became lost in His Spirit as I communed with Him, and He replenished me. After service, Derwyne Bell, one of the guys in our youth group, helped me stagger back to the dorm in my “lost in the Spirit” state. He dumped me in my bunk and then stood guard over me. While I was experiencing an unforgettable, continuing communion with God, I was also somewhat aware of my surroundings. I could hear other boys making fun of me, but I did not care, nor did I respond. But my “guard” threatened them all that if they continued they would have him to deal with. They backed off, my deep spiritual time continued, and God replenished me at a most crucial time. After that season of rejuvenation, my mind was made up, my questioning was laid aside, replaced by God’s purpose and direction.

When we compare ourselves with others, we may feel like the psalmist of Psalm 73. He considered his feet “well nigh slipped” when he “saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He felt hopeless, that he had cleansed his heart in vain. However, when he “went into the sanctuary of God,” he came to understand the end of the wicked. God had set them in “slippery places” and cast them “down to destruction.” This eye-opening experience occurred while the psalmist had a time of replenishing in the sanctuary of God.

Many years ago, while I was music director at Texas Bible College, Pastor J. T. Pugh invited me to the First United Pentecostal Church of Odessa, Texas, for a weekend to minister and teach a choir clinic. I was honored and humbled that he even knew my name. Those who knew Pastor Pugh will understand a bit of “Pugh” humor—While waiting in a cafeteria line after Sunday morning service, he turned to me and asked, “Do you like raw chicken?” Yes, it was a J. T. Pugh question.

However, the afternoon proved to be different. That season of my life was a soul-searching time; my ministry nest was being stirred. I was seeking God’s divine direction and needing His replenishing Spirit to help me re-focus on His will and purpose for my life. During the afternoon I went to the church’s prayer room to seek God. But the prayer room was unlike any I had ever been in. With church growth and church plant expansion, at that time the prayer room was a hallway—just a long hall with a door at one end and an air conditioner unit at the other end. I walked inside and thought, What kind of prayer room is this? but was immediately enveloped by the Spirit of God. I thought, “Whoa, I am not the first person to pray in this oddly shaped prayer room. My prayers won’t be the first to reverberate through this long narrow room.” And sure enough, God met me there. He washed me, renewed me, and I left with direction, vision, and fresh determination for my journey.

When we are running on empty in our relationship with God, His Spirit can replenish us until our tank runs over.