Except for the wind, it wasn’t bitterly cold, though it was night-black like velvet. When the orange symbol lit up behind my steering wheel, I was curious, but not concerned. “Cold temperatures cause tire pressure to fluctuate,” I told myself. It’s weird, but not to worry. I accepted my non-mechanical opinion, pressing on at 70 (okay, 75) mph. After all, ten miles from the exit and twenty-five from home, help wouldn’t be convenient. When the steering wheel began to shake, curiosity became concern and I maneuvered to the right lane on the usually empty stretch of highway.
The surprisingly narrow shoulder of the road was just wide enough to get around the car to the steep bank covered in sagebrush and bunch grass. Finding myself on a curve, I realized the stream of cars and semi-trucks didn’t see my flashing hazard lights until they were to my location. I wrapped up in the dirty, thin blanket I had ignored for weeks in my trunk, sorry I never washed it. At a safe distance, I called for help and waited.
That indicator light really meant there was a problem.
When was the last time an indicator light flashed in your life?
Were you curious? Concerned? Was there a problem?
The start of a new year prompts us to reflect and reset. We also check batteries, fill fluids, get new planners (I still use paper), start diets, plan exercise to fit into a spring dress or summer swimsuit, re-organize our pantry, or clean out our closet. Okay, I’ve only got a new planner so far, but it’s also a good time to take note of indicator lights, begging for attention.
As I reflected on last year, I looked back on a light flashing in my own life. At first I was curious, not concerned. But after a visit to the ER and medical tests, doctors agreed. It’s not convenient to ask for help, especially when you’re zooming along on your way to somewhere important.
If one of life’s lights alerts us to the need to pull over, change lanes, do maintenance, or replace equipment, we may be tempted to keep flying at 75 mph. Help won’t be convenient to ask for. It may be cold, dark and scary while we wait. We may feel like we’re in danger, but ignoring the warning light may be a greater danger.
Here are some warning lights that may indicate we need to respond:
- We get sick and our body says listen.
- Relationships are tense or distant and something is shaking.
- Works takes too much of life and pushes out other priorities.
- People we respect or care for tell us they’re concerned.
- Practices or parts of life we value gather dust or fall away.
- We repeatedly miss out or get left out of things we love.
- Goals we set consistently go unmet or abandoned.
- Life doesn’t happen in a peaceful way where parts work together.
In the Bible, there’s a true story about a man named Elijah, a messenger of God. It wasn’t an easy job, being God’s prophet. We could easily say he was under a lot of stress, made worse by being chased by the most evil queen in the Bible. (Read the whole story here) Fearful and exhausted, Elijah isolated himself and lost perspective. When he told God, “Take my life,” he finally collapsed. It was a warning light, and God came to his rescue, feeding him fresh bread and water and letting him sleep under a tree. When it was time to wake up, God Himself gave Elijah the gift of compassionate understanding, saying, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
Sometimes a warning light flashes and we ignore it; we keep doing what we’ve been doing. Indicator lights indicate a need and an opportunity.
My tire pressure was definitely fluctuating that night. Blown tire! Who knew? But at 75 mph on a dark desert highway (Yes, like the song, only Oregon to Washington) ignoring the indicator light could be dangerous or even deadly. I thought about that while I sat shivering on the sage covered bank. That little light really was telling me something.
Enjoy the new planner. Eat less sugar. Get rid of that dress from 2005 (Okay, 1995). Let’s thank God for the indicator lights He turned on in our lives last year and ask for the wisdom and courage to do something about them in this new one.
Is there an indicator light flashing in your life as you start this new year? It may help to write out the issue in a single sentence. (Like: I have a right rear flat tire. OR I have been diagnosed with a medical condition that will get better or worse based on choices I make.) That’s a start, and then consider what tools you need to respond to that need. Here’s to a safe & healthy 2019!