There are some lights that grab your attention and seemingly demand to be noticed. The check engine light on a dashboard is one of those.  I distinctly remembering my dad saying that’s not a light to ignore. Having had a few months of my share of mechanic bills, you could say I was less than thrilled when mine came on the other day. Imagine my surprise when the mechanic said before a costly repair, there was another option to try first. He said that I possibly bought “bad gas” or have a buildup of sludge around my engine. I could buy a bottle of a special solution to attempt to clean up my car without the expensive repair. He couldn’t guarantee it would work, but there was a good chance it would.

The process required that I drive my car to less than ¼ of a tank so that it was nearly empty. Then and only then could I pour in the solution. Next I needed to drive for a bit before filling my car up with premium gas. When my gas gauge was low enough, I was ready to attempt the fix. Hopeful, I poured the bottle before driving home from work. On my commute, I realized the familiarity of the process. The experience with my car had inadvertently given me valuable reminders about life and faith.

1. The quality of our fuel matters.

One of the first things the mechanic suggested was that I had filled up with a poor quality of fuel. He said while he could change the part, there’d be no guarantee that it plus the over $400 of cost it would take would truly fix the issue. He explained that bad gas can leave sludge in engine making it harder for it to run. The alternative he gave me was to clean out the sludge and change the quality of fuel. Somehow I don’t think we’re so different from our cars. What we allow ourselves to consume can leave us filled with sludge. The residue left behind from “bad fuel” can drag us down. We need to be mindful of what we consume and realize it really does matter.

2. Ignoring the need to change causes damage.

My dad taught me not to ignore the warning lights on a dashboard. The check engine line is particularly ominous as the potential for serious damage is great. Ignoring a warning light can lead to expensive repairs. In our lives, we’re much the same. Little signs that something is off or wrong shouldn’t be ignored. When we know something isn’t right, if we address it right away, we can avoid a more costly mistake or detour on our journey.

3. Sometimes we need to be emptied.

The mechanic carefully instructed that I needed to drive my car until it was below ¼ of a tank. It needed to be close to empty before I could do what was needed to clean out the sludge. This one hit particularly close to home. I recognize what it feels like to be emptied. There are times in life when our storms drain us. We may feel like we have little to nothing less to face our daily challenge. But, when we feel that way, we can be encouraged… just like the solution I put in my car, sometimes God allows us to be emptied so that he can clear away the sludge that weighs us down. Being emptied the part of the process just before being restored.

4. Restoration is a process.

The fix for my car wasn’t a one-step process. I needed to empty my tank, fill it with a special solution, drive it for a bit, and then fill it with premium fuel. The process took several days to unfold. It would have been nice to wave a magic wand on the day I discovered the issue and be done with it. But, that’s not how it worked. Additionally there were alternative methods to attempt to fix the problem. Because the root of the issue ended up being bad fuel, the other methods would have provided false temporary hope. Life isn’t so different. When we find ourselves in need of restoration, we quickly recognize, it’s a process. It takes time and trying to speed up the process likely will give us false hope while avoiding the necessary work. When restoration is needed, welcome the process.

5. What you fill up with moving forward matters.

The mechanic was clear. After I followed the process to clean out the bad fuel, what I put in next mattered. He recommended the first tank be premium from a name-brand station. After that, he recommended cycling between regular and premium. Doing so would help protect my engine from sludge building up again and causing an expensive repair. In life, when we’ve been through trials and survived our emptiness in our valleys, what we fill up on matters. What we listen to, what we chew on, what we marinate in matters. And, it’s not just what we hear or watch, it’s also what we repeat to ourselves. Are we filling up on good stuff or are we consuming words and messages that tear us down or hold us back. When life is heavy, One of my current favorites to “reset” is You Say by Lauren Daigle.

It’s your turn

So what happens when you have bad fuel… you realize it’s time for a change! I’ve been going through change in a number of areas in life. Some days I feel a bit like my car with the check engine light on. How about you? What have you been consuming lately? Are you carrying around sludge in the form of negativity, doubt, or fear that needs to go? Have you been ignoring warning signs that something needs to change? Allow yourself to be emptied and carefully choose what you allow to refill you. Choose to build yourself back up again, free from the things that were weighing you down. Let God refresh you and move forward lighter.

Before you go, click to join the conversation. Let me know if this post resonated with you. If your “check engine light” on? And, if this encouraged you, why not share this post. You might just encourage someone around you who is struggling.

Until next time friend, be blessed!