A couple of months ago a warning flashed on my dash… “low fob battery”. I ignored it. My self talk went like this. “I’ll take care of it later. It’s not a dangerous warning. If it stops working I still have a physical key. What’s the big deal?” Logical enough.
Have you ever ignored “the warning sign” and had to pay the consequences?
Predictably, the “low battery” hit zero at a very inopportune time. It was after a late evening tennis match in a somewhat sketchy part of town. The magical feature of touching the car door to unlock it, didn’t work. Did I have the wrong car? Nope.
I panicked. I dropped my gear in the poorly lit parking lot to search for the fob in the black hole, also known as my purse. Found it and opened it to expose the key. Next step, put the key in the keyhole. But where is it? With my almost dead iPhone as my flashlight, I searched the car exterior for a keyhole. Couldn’t find one. Now what? I called my lifeline, Doug Hucke. He wasn’t too thrilled for my interruption of session, (an important monthly meeting with all the churches’ elders) But… God love him, he texted me a link to a section in the owners manual.
Frustrated, I had only myself to blame. My partner Sheri said to me, “didn’t your car warn you that the battery was low.”
“Yes,” I admitted, somewhat embarrassed.
“You know the dealer replaces your fob battery for free,”she continued.
“No, I didn’t know that,”even more embarrassed. It was not one of my finer moments. Can I just say that unlocking and starting a VW with a dead fob, is COMPLICATED. You have to remove the cap on the door handle which feels as if you’re going to break it. Then, after opening the car, there is still no interior light. You have to place the key on the side of the steering column at just the right place for the push button ignition to work. It took me what felt like a week to figure it out. Relieved to flag down my friend Lisa who waited with me to be sure I wouldn’t be stranded in the scary parking lot.
It’s Not just Me
I’m reminded of the Big Bang episode when Penny is driving Leonard’s mother. She says, “Do you know that your check engine light is on?”
“Yeah,” answers Penny, “I need to put a sticker over that.”
Apologies to those of you who may have encountered my downed website this week. That too, was the consequence of another “missed warning sign”; by my website hosting company. They explained, “The notification that your SSL was due for renewal was missed. We’ve remedied this on our side and it won’t happen again. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
Warning Signs in Life
It got me to thinking about the warning signs in life that we also often ignore. And even more importantly the consequences we experience as a result.
The Holy Spirit
A fob is a pretty cool device. When charged and on my person, I have the power to unlock and start the ignition of my car with my hand. In some ways, the Holy Spirit is kind of like your own personal fob.
If you’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you and you have access and full privileges to His infinite power. The Holy Spirit, fully God, is often misunderstood. And what a shame. Because the Holy Spirit has been gifted to you, for your use here on earth. The Spirit’s role in the Christian life is vast. He’s our Helper, our Comforter, our Advocate, our Intercessor, and our Power.
Helper/ Comforter — John 14:16, John 14:26, John 16:7
Advocate — John 16:7, John 14:16, John 15:26
Intercessor — Romans 8:26,27
Power — Romans 8:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Jude 1:20, Acts 4:31
Is the Holy Spirit Working?
Here’s the thing… If you’re a Christian and the Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to be working in your life, may I suggest, you may have missed the warning signs.
Last week was deflating, hassled, frustrating and full of short-tempered stress. In hindsight, I see where I missed the Holy Spirit’s warning signs.
Classes resumed at UNM with Ian registered for six credits, painting and drawing. He anticipated this fresh start with childlike enthusiasm. He was up at the crack of dawn, he chose a special outfit and could not wait to meet new potential friends. “Mom, the first day back to school this semester feels bigger to me than Christmas.” I couldn’t help but be excited for his hopeful day.
With harsh cruelty, Ian was slapped with reminder after reminder of his permanent and relentless traumatic brain injury. Mishap after mishap left Ian disheartened and me reeling with frustration, sadness and a limited ability to help him to recover.
A panicked phone call when he couldn’t find his class, a forgotten requirement for painting, a lost phone, a lost wallet, and missing art supplies, all happened before Tuesday. The rest of last week I spent, phone calling, retrieving and replacing all in an attempt to try again.
In Your Own Strength
The Holy Spirit is subtle. He won’t force Himself upon you. In my experience when you don’t take advantage of His presence and power, without intention, you have stepped out in your own strength. And “in your own strength” is a dangerous place to be.
Hoping to do better this week… I’ve identified my top 10 warning signs.
My TOP 10 Holy Spirit warning signs
- 1. Your priorities are suspect — there is just no time for reading scripture, prayer, church, or even your spouse.
- 2. You think it’s really within your control.
- 3. You’re spending more time with your favorite vices — trash TV, social media, caffeine and more caffeine, a glass of wine or two or three, a pint of ice cream or too much pizza.
- 4. You over-react to small inconveniences — traffic, on hold with customer service, a long line at the grocery store.
- 5. Your sleep is disrupted by an anxious heart.
- 6. Your mood is influenced solely by your current situation with no eternal perspective.
- 7. You forget and behave in a way that you have little value to God.
- 8. You harbor un-forgiveness telling yourself it is justified.
- 9. You feel burdened by the unfairness of life and it colors everything.
- 10. You struggle to extend grace to anyone and especially those you love.
Above is my list from just last week. In my experience, the tougher your circumstances, the more likely ugly consequences show up. Perhaps your dashboard flashes slightly different warning signs. Here are some additional possibilities…
- You gossip over text to a friend about another friend which makes you feel better.
- You pass judgement over the overweight woman in the grocery store.
- You are jealous of your friend who appears to have it all together.
- You care more about what your friends think about your ‘grey’ decision than what God thinks.
- Joy is completely absent.
- You feel rage towards people of the other political party.
- You would rather be right than kind.
I’m sure by now you get the hang of it. Perhaps you can think of other warnings that flash on your dash. I recommend you write them down. Awareness is the vital first step.
There is an antidote. The Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is present, ugly thoughts and behaviors are not.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
This week, my fully charged fob has become my constant reminder. Every time I use it to lock or unlock my car, I call upon the Holy Spirit to be with me. “Come Holy Spirit!” When He is present, ugly thoughts and behaviors are not.
And…it’s working. The Holy Spirit’s power and presence makes all the difference.