I bought a new car the other day.
I didn’t expect to. But my minivan was no match for our laborious summer, so we put it out to pasture.
It turns out, cars have changed a bit in the 15 years since I sweltered under a circus tent, cradling my 5-week-old son through the most drawn out sales transaction ever.
I loved my archaic minivan. I may or may not have tried to convince my husband to install a new transmission, which cost three times the vehicle’s worth.
In the end, I asked if we could at least try to find heated seats. My husband’s unconcerned chuckle made no sense until I sat behind my new steering wheel. Even in our modest, used-car price range, seat warmers are standard issue.
This car came equipped with navigation, back-up cameras, radar… you’d think I piloted the Interplanetary Transport System to Mars.
Or at least a BMW.
But no, it’s a Regular Mom Car. With heated seats.
It’s a little faaan-cy, as my people say. And the blue dashboard lights look neat. (I don’t even need the technology; give me blue backlighting and we’re ninety percent to cool in my book.)
But I’ve discovered new gee-gaws almost every day. Most of them I can live without. (Ask me again in 6 months.)
But my husband’s enamored, and because he’s the family car guy I show the appropriate awe, even though it’ll be months before I understand how much of it works.
So, we’re on the car’s maiden voyage to The Burger House — my husband, my son, and me.
The day burns warm enough to try out the air conditioner. I flip through the Sirius trial subscription stations. A firm staccato signals my next turn. The ride is smooth and pleasant.
Until the dashboard screeches at me.
What in the world?!
The Lane Departure Warning System informed me I had inched into the bike lane.
That’s kinda cool!
And it was.
The first time.
But it turns out I also have a Personalized Warning System — in the form of the people I live with — whose merciless taunting is a prolonged and boisterous echo of the car’s alerts. I suspect this Personalized Warning System increases rather than diminishes the likelihood of an accident. Or death…ahem.
So, yes, my family enjoys teasing me about my driving.
But I’m not a bad driver. (I know, everybody says that!) But the persnickety car insists on dinging me for crossing the center line even without the presence of oncoming traffic. The nerve!
Although I’ll never admit it to my family, I’m interested to see how often the car scolds me. Maybe I’m not as good as I think I am.
My Walk With God
Then it occurred to me: As a Christian, what if I’m not as good as I think I am?
If I had a Christian Path Departure System, would its beeps be infrequent or commonplace?
To be sure, I’m not a perfect Christian. Not even close. Fortunately, Jesus’ sacrifice assures I don’t need to be.
But am I worse than I imagine?
Do I engage in so many little infractions I don’t realize how often I glide across the solid yellow line?
Do I reason, as when I drive, that small indiscretions only matter when I can see several tons of trouble headed my way?
Fortunately, I do have a Christian Path Departure System, and it’s more advanced than my car’s technology. The Holy Spirit’s soft warning even before I approach the center line increases in volume and intensity as I slip out of bounds.
Will I attune myself to the Holy Spirit’s whisper and improve my reaction time for obedience, to avoid dangers hidden around the bend? Or will my stubborn spirit insist I don’t need to follow the path exactly?
And if, at times, I downplay the Holy Spirit’s warning system (I’m not the only one, right?), will I allow my family and friends to speak into the issue with wisdom? Or will I insist I’m driving fine?
I’m becoming accustomed to my new car’s navigation system. Did I mention it tells me when the car ahead pulls away from the drive-thru? No kidding!
But my money’s on the Holy Spirit’s warning system! It doesn’t have blue lights, but it will never let me down.
And I don’t have to spend all afternoon in a dealership parking lot to receive it!
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