How Life Is Like A Truck – Part 2
By: Tom Wolff
As we continue to talk about our engine (chapter 3 from last month’s issue), it is helpful to think further about how we protect it. The truck has an array of gauges that help monitor the engine and other vital functions. I can see the temperature of my engine, exhaust, transmission and the front and rear differentials. Gauges monitor air pressure, fuel levels, speed, engine RPM’s and more. The purpose is to give the driver a clear picture of how the various systems are doing and be able to detect any malfunction before things get serious.
Although my pick-up truck has a number of gauges, I recently experienced the dreaded “check engine” light. This light tells you that one or more of about a thousand things is wrong but won’t tell you exactly what. Take me to your dealer. I refer once again to King Solomon’s admonition in Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Solomon says that everything we do in life flows from our heart, so its condition is of utmost importance. We need to be very careful then about what is flowing into our heart. When we take on “bad fuel” we will eventually shut down. Therefore, God has equipped us with a spiritual “check engine” light. The number one illuminator of the check engine light in the lives of many men (myself included) is anger. We tend to believe it’s rooted in the behavior of another or in some circumstance that has occurred. However, people or circumstances don’t have the power to make us angry. Only we can give ourselves over to anger – but anger isn’t the primary issue. The “check engine” light tells us the diagnosis is below the surface.
Jesus taught, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45 NKJV).
The angry language is the indicator that underneath, something else is lurking. The question is, “What is fueling the language?” Bitterness, unforgiveness? As Jesus pointed out, if anger is what is flowing from our mouth, it’s because anger is ruling in our heart. Ouch. People and circumstances don’t make us angry- they simply reveal that anger is ruling in our heart.
Check engine. There are many issues that can cause our “engine” to get clogged and eventually shut down. To get the best results our heart can offer, we must maintain a clear connection to Jesus and His Word. Many destructive influences await the man who lives far from his heart. The good news is that God is always available to help cleanse our heart, stand us back up and help us get running again! Here are three main diagnostic tools that Jesus offers us:
1. The Spirit of God. First and foremost, God gives us Himself. Have you prayed about what’s going on? Have you written about it and sat quietly before Him? God is always wanting to speak to us – Do we take the time to listen?
2. The Word of God. Most of what God wants to tell us is already written. Studying His Word will reveal most answers and confirm what God is telling you in your prayer time. “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). If you aren’t a student of the Word, you will never grow in your faith and you will never become a student of your own heart. In this case, ignorance is NOT bliss, it is spiritual suicide.
3. The family of God. A tribe – every man needs one. This is not optional. We all need a few trusted friends to whom we have given permission to speak truth into our lives. We can let a few others speak hard things to us when we know that they are for us. Consider it, “therapeutic wounding.” “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov 27:6).
These are our God-given diagnostic tools – The Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the family of God. Is your “check engine” light on? Don’t make it mysterious – use your God-given diagnostics, take some time, and figure it out. Our goal is to love God and others, from a “pure heart” (1 Timothy 1:5). The road ahead is a long one – do whatever it takes to avoid that unexpected shutdown!