Several weeks ago, my car spoke to me. Not in an audible voice, but in that special language auto manufacturers have created to alert drivers when action is required. It said, in bright orange letters, “Maintenance required soon.”
Fortunately, it wasn’t signaling an emergency. It was just time for an oil change. Those pesky warning lights can be annoying, but they can be very helpful reminders, especially for those not inclined to check under the hood very often. Every car, no matter how new – or expensive – needs periodic maintenance. As the guy in the old auto repair commercial used to say, “You can pay me now…or you can pay me later.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if humans had a “check engine” light to let us know a personal tune-up is in order? To date, no baby has been born with a built-in warning light. However, in a sense, we could say we do – at least physically speaking. A fever, ache or pain signals when something’s amiss in our bodies. It might just represent a minor strain or a seasonal illness. But other times it can mean something of greater concern. If symptoms persist, we’re told, it’s best to consult your doctor.
When it comes to the less tangible parts of our lives – our mental and emotional well-being, even our spiritual condition – it’s much harder to discern when problems are manifesting themselves. That’s when a personal “check engine” light would come in handy.
The realms of the mental and emotional can be very problematic. It’s often difficult to assess objectively when our thinking or behavior gets out of kilter. Even when we do recognize such problems, we can’t always identify the cause. That’s why trained practitioners in those areas can be so helpful.
But we don’t have to be wizened theologians or learned seminarians to address our own spiritual well-being. Because we have direct access to what Jesus in John 14:16 and 15:26 called a “Helper” or“Counselor” (the Holy Spirit) to provide necessary discernment. The Lord said in John 16:8, “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.”
Not a visible “check engine” light, but a very real Guide for our everyday lives: Sometimes shouting to our conscience, and other times speaking to us in a still, small voice. In addition to the Holy Spirit, God has provided us with another kind of light to tell when we’re on track, and when we’re not: the Scriptures.
Psalm 119:105 declares, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” The entire psalm – the longest in the Bible – affirms the importance of the Scriptures not only for the sweet by and by, but also for the nasty now and now. In Psalm 119:9-11 we read, ”How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
Another passage explains how the Word of God helps to advance our spiritual growth: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Proverbs 6:23 offers a similar perspective: “For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.”
Although we don’t have a physical check-engine light to warn us if we’ve gotten off course spiritually, God’s Spirit living in us and the Bible can serve in that way. The question is, will we devote enough time with the Lord and in His Word so that when critical junctures in life arrive, we can recognize the warning signals before disaster strikes?