Posted by: Mike Willoughby | March 1, 2010

How Are You? (Part 1)

How are you?  It’s a question that is asked millions of times per day in hundreds of languages.  Even my native Texas language’s traditional greeting, “Howdy” is just short for “How do you do?”  I know I ask that question many times each day as I pass by my friends and associates in the office corridors and church hallways.  And what is the traditional response?  “I’m fine.”   Have you ever had someone answer differently when you asked that question as you passed by them in the hall?  Perhaps someone answered truthfully, “not so great, thanks for asking.”   How many times have we answered, “fine” when the truth was a different story.  When someone responded truthfully to the question, did you back up and inquire further into what was wrong or did you move on down the road pretending not to have heard the unusual response?  I admit (not very proudly) I’ve responded both ways.  So why do we engage in this familiar exchange that so often veils the truth?  Perhaps because the simple question can lead to a very complex truthful response.  Many times it’s easier to respond, “fine” than attempt to describe what’s not right in my life.  Many times, I’m not quite sure what’s wrong just that something’s out of whack.

The problem is that we are by nature complex beings.  Our creator God created us with several different states of being that can each be “fine” or “not so fine.”  At a basic level we all have at least three fundamental states that can be described as emotional, physical and spiritual states.  You may want to think of these states as reservoirs or tanks that are relatively full or empty of energy.  When all three tanks are full, you will likely be in good shape and can honestly respond, “fine” to the hallway question.  When any one tank is approaching empty, you will likely feel “not so fine” and two or more tanks on empty indicate a serious crisis is brewing in your life.

God created you and He knows you have these tanks that require attention in order to be healthy and happy.  The best example I can find in the Bible of this human phenomenon and God’s response to us when we are running on empty is in I Kings chapters 18 and 19.  In chapter 18, the mighty prophet Elijah engages in a spiritual showdown with 450 prophets of the false god Baal and defeats them through the power of God.  The false prophets are put to death and the people of Israel are left with no doubts about who is the one true God and what is an inanimate object worshipped as a false god.  Chapter 18 concludes with the victorious Elijah in a foot race with King Ahab in his chariot from Mt. Carmel back to the town of Jezreel.  Elijah on foot beat the king in his horse-drawn chariot.  One would think that Elijah, energized by his victory with God, would be full of confidence and unshakable in any circumstance. 

However, chapter 19 opens up with Queen Jezebel passing a death sentence upon Elijah for killing the false prophets and placing a bounty on Elijah’s head.  The powerful prophet who had single-handedly with the power of God alone defeated 450 prophets of Baal turned and ran into the desert.  Why?  Because Elijah was human and in the battle of the previous day, he had run his three tanks empty.  When we are running on three empty tanks, we are in no position to go into any sort of battle.  We will certainly be defeated.  So, we have to stay on top of the status of our tanks and ensure they are constantly filled. 

I think you will all recognize in our topsy-turvy modern world, it is all too easy to run our physical, emotional and spiritual tanks dry without taking the time and making the effort to recharge.  Over the next three articles, we will study the example of Elijah in chapter 19 and notice how God personally ministers to Elijah and recharges each of his three tanks.  I know I benefit every time I consider the story of Elijah in I Kings 19.  I think there is a very practical Biblical therapy in this chapter that can completely revolutionize our lives and help us truly be able to answer, “fine” when our friends and associates ask us, “How are you?”  Come back next week to see how critical it is that we maintain our physical tank.  You will also see that your physical health is a priority for God and he is also very interested in the question, “How are you?”

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!


  1. Mike,
    I thought this was very good. The way you explained that we have three tanks and we need to work on each one every day. I am a firm beliver that we must keep our spirtual tank full so that we have faith to work on our other tanks, with God working with us. We all need not to be so focused on ourselves but to help others to be blessed and fill their tanks so we can get ours filled. Thanks for the messages each week, looking forward to next week.

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