Jackson Five Friday: The Check Engine Light

Hey Friends,

I recently had occasion to drive a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta 700 miles. I won’t bore you with the details of why, but trust me when I tell you that I have something sort of like the Midas touch. The difference is instead of stuff turning to gold, stuff just gets incredibly complicated. So suffice it to say this little trip was no different. Prep for the trip included two visits to the body shop and two trips to my favorite mechanic. Nonetheless, I headed out on a Sunday afternoon and the check engine light still came on less than 200 miles in.

I turned the radio off. I tried to listen intently. But this Jetta doesn’t exactly purr at baseline. Of course I hardly know what baseline would even sound like. Was that high-pitched effort normal at 70 mph? Who knew? It felt a little like The Little Engine That Could, but she made it. The next day the light disappeared. I searched the internet about possible explanations. Pro tip: in some cars, the check engine light can be an indication that the gas cap isn’t properly sealed. I guess maybe that’s all it was.

But here’s the thing: I knew that. I’ve actually experienced that some time in the past, but it’s been a while so it just didn’t occur to me. If I had remembered, I could’ve adjusted the cap, and not tried to evaluate engine noises for a solid 500 miles. I could’ve relaxed, and not been concerned that the little engine might not make it.

And that’s exactly how we are in life too. We know certain things, but we are so forgetful that we sacrifice the peace that God intends for us. The Bible constantly tells us to remember, to forget not, to meditate on the truth, to hide God’s Word in our hearts. And yet, we tune out the music of life and focus instead on what could be. We rob ourselves of joy by worrying about the what-ifs. We forget that God has a good, pleasing and perfect plan. We forget that He determines our steps. We lose sight of freedom. We fool ourselves into believing that we can add even a single hour to our lives, that we can and should figure it all out.

What are you prone to forget that costs you the joy and peace for which you were designed? How can you remind yourself of the applicable truths that lead you you back to surrender, peace and freedom?

Bless the Lord, O my should, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103: 2-5

Of course, there is also a time to forget. For example, what should you do when you hear crushing news about someone you revere and admire? You should certainly avoid replaying it over and over in your mind, and you should ask the Lord to help you think on other things. But people will always disappoint us.

In a sense, it is kind of interesting that the fall from grace of someone you esteem is as discouraging as it is. After all, it happens over and over and over again. But we don’t get used to it. We don’t get any better at just brushing it off. C.S. Lewis wrote about how our longings that go unfulfilled must point to something. And maybe this is an example. We long to have people not disappoint us. Have you ever considered that this points to Jesus? Because He will never ever give us that sinking feeling. He will never leave us disheartened, disillusioned or dissatisfied. He is incapable of deceiving, or overstating His love and care for us. He is the personification of Truth and Love. The next time someone’s humanity leaves you disillusioned, let it be a reminder to look on Jesus as the only source of perfect, unfailing love.

Lord Jesus help us to look to you as the source of truth, as the door to freedom, as the author and perfecter of our faith. Help us to remember what we need to remember and to forget what we should forget. Help us to not miss the freedom and peace you have for us in this fallen world, and help us to look with eager anticipation of living forever with You.

May we remember and forget in the godliest ways imaginable this weekend and always!

With Love,


P.S. It has not escaped me that a large number of my stories revolve around cars and trips. Perhaps I should write a little book called Lessons Learned from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

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