Yesterday morning I got in my car, turned the key and heard a strange noise coming from the engine. I can't really describe it very well, other than saying that it definitely was not right. The car idled very roughly and the "Service Engine Soon" light came on and stayed lit. So, I did what anyone else would do in that situation.
I turned the car off. Waited a few seconds. And tried again - hoping that the light would not come back on and I could just forget about it.
Of course, it didn't work. I nonetheless convinced myself that the car was running better, but there was still that annoying light - Service Engine Soon. If it could have yelled at me, it would have been screaming. Now, it was about 5:15 in the morning, so my options at this point were pretty limited. I pulled out the owners manual, looked up Warning Lights in the index, and read everything that I could about the Service Engine Soon light. Ah - a ray of hope, apparently this light will sometimes come on if the gas cap is not completely closed. Although there is no reason that the gas cap would not be completely closed, I turn off the car and hop out to tighten the gas cap. Convinced my problem is going to be solved (after all, I have both tightened the gas cap and turned the car off again), I get back in and turn the key.
Service Engine Soon
Well, the manual doesn't say that driving the car will cause problems and it is not like I can take it anywhere at 5:15 in the morning, so I just head to work. The whole way I attempt to ignore the light, to pretend it isn't there. I try not to look down at the instrument panel for fear that I will see it. But, of course I couldn't ignore it. I could swear that the entire car was filled with the orange glow from that light. It was like a pimple on the tip of my nose on the day before prom - I couldn't help but look at it. Worse, I imagined that everyone else could see it. I was embarrassed that the parking garage attendant would see it when I paid to park.
Long story short (I know, too late for that), I made it safely to work and got the car to the dealer in the afternoon. I wouldn't even be writing about it except that during my workout yesterday morning I put the IPOD on shuffle and one of the first songs that I heard was "Open Up Your Eyes" by Jeremy Camp. The very first part of the song is:
"Open up your eyes
And see these warning signs
Breaking through your heart and all the reason of your mind"
From there the song builds to the chorus:
"And the time has come to realize
And see the plan you've been designed for
So face the fear of all unknown
And see the heart inside
So open up your eyes
So open up your eyes"
That got me to thinking about the morning all over again. My first reaction to the warning sign on my car was: That can't be real - maybe it won't happen again. When it did, my next reaction was: OK, maybe I can just ignore it and it will go away. When that didn't work, I started worrying about whether other people could tell that I was just ignoring it.
How often do we do just that in our lives? How often when we sense God talking to us do we try to push it away and say this can't be happening? How often do we test to see if it will happen again? Then, when it does, how often do we attempt to ignore it because it is inconvenient? Or it is uncomfortable? Or it requires us to do something that we are not sure about?
As someone who is growing in his faith and the author of this decidedly Christian blog, I wish I could say that doesn't happen to me. I wish I could say that at the very first sign of God being active in my life, or directing me, or talking to me, I listen and follow. But, I know I don't. I know that I often go through the process described above. I know that sometimes it takes the fear of other people recognizing that I am not listening to motivate me. I often wonder if I were Simon (Peter), Andrew, James or John, would I leave my nets "at once," or "immediately" leave my boat, to answer Jesus' call and "follow him."
I'd like to think so. But, the truth is - I don't know. I guess there is nothing out of the ordinary about that and that all it means is that there is still a lot of room to grow. Until then, I will just keep working on paying more attention to warning signs.