“Let’s use your car for the airport run; it has more trunk space,” my husband said. The idea seemed good.We climbed into the car, buckled up, backed out of the garage, and headed out of the neighborhood. Scarcely had we gone a block when my husband questioned, “How long has this light been on?”
“Light, what light?” I responded.
“This dashboard warning that says it’s time to change the oil,” he replied.
“Why, I have no idea,” I spoke naively, “perhaps the warning light has just now showed up!”
Now I must pause here to inject that we both have cars. I drive my car. He drives his car. Therefore, unless I inform him that there is a thump-thump or a funny-sounding whine, he assumes that all is well in Patti’s-car-world. Actually, I have never verbally assured him that he could place such confidence in my perceptiveness. Probably he made an assumption. I suppose he considered that my age and the number of years that I have been driving had qualified me to be able to read automobile warning lights. Guess Not!
Anyway – back to the story…“perhaps the warning light has just now showed up,” I replied. He leaned forward and looked at the sticker on the front windshield – you know – the one that recounts the mileage at the last oil change.
“Patti, the car is over 1,000 miles past due,” he stated with a slight edgy tone of his voice. “So,” I said sheepishly, “you’re telling me that there is a good chance that I have been ignoring the light for a long time now?”
Warning Lights! They certainly can’t help me when I pay no attention to them. Caution Signs! Their wisdom is useless unless it is heeded. Alert notifications! The advice they herald is wasted if it is ignored. This little car incident caused me to realize that I am usually ambivalent to warning signs that are all around me in my regular life routines. I never read the label on merchandise that I use all the time. I don’t scrutinize the recommendations or inspect the ingredients of a product that is a household regular. Familiar makes me less attentive to the warning signs in life.
As important as the package labels and dashboard lights are, other warnings in life are just as predominant and are just as easily ignored. Anger, jealousy, greed, lust, and hatred all serve as cautionary signals. They indicate that something requires attention. They designate that prudence is mandated. They specify that care is needed. However, if allowed to remain unattended too long, these beacons of warning blend into the ordinary routine and lose their ability to grab my attention.
While custody of the car is imperative, guardianship of my soul ranks paramount. When irritation turns into hatred or anger, there is a good chance that I have been ignoring the light for a long time. When an unchecked or unmet longing gives birth to greed or jealousy, I can’t feign innocence by declaring that the warning light has just showed up. There is more danger in me dulling the voice of my conscience than turning a blind eye to a dashboard.
The Apostle Paul warns me to not let the sun go down while I am still angry (Ephesians 4:26). In other words, take the soul in for an oil change before I park it for the evening. Take out the contaminated oil and replace it with forgiveness, mercy, and love. How will I know when the exchange is complete? All I need to do is pay attention to the warning signs.