A few years after I was first married I pulled one of the biggest bonehead mistakes in history with my car. We had recently purchased a Toyota Tercel. This was the first new car we had bought and we were pretty excited. I was still very young and growing up I had almost no experience working on cars. I had done a few things on our old car, a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere. As such I knew little about car maintenance or repair, but I had a character trait (most women would call it a flaw) – I was a man, so therefore I seldom, if ever asked for advice.
It was time for the first oil change so I set to work on the task. I crawled under the car to begin my oil change. The Tercel was a front wheel drive vehicle – at this time a fairly new thing. When I looked up at the engine I was thrown for a loop as there was more than one plug. Which one was the right one? Well I took a guess and removed one of the plugs and drained the fluid inside. I did notice this fluid was red, but hey, this was a Japanese car, maybe it uses a different kind of oil. I got all of the fluid drained and put the plug back in. I crawled back out and got under the hood. I found the oil cap and removed it and put in the first quart of oil. After the first quart I looked on the stick and found that the oil level was already completely full. Wow, these Japanese cars do not require much oil; this is great. Yes, it is utterly amazing that I did not consider all of the clues up to this point of my error, not the least of which the amount of fluid drained from the car exceeded the 1 quart of oil I added.
Now most of you are way ahead of me and if you have even the slightest knowledge of cars, realize I had drained the transaxle fluid rather than the motor oil. So here is my new Toyota Tercel with no fluid in its front wheel drive transaxle but plenty of oil.
The next day I loaded up the car with myself, Marie and our toddler child and headed off to a church softball game. The car sounded a little bit different at the start, but nothing that turning up the radio a little bit couldn’t solve. We got onto the highway and got up to full speed when the car started making this extremely loud, high-pitched, whining sound. That sound didn’t last too long as it was replaced by an exploding sound and the car jerking almost to a complete stop in the high speed lane. Fortunately we were able to get off the road safely and even got someone to tow us for free to the garage. The transaxle had blown up, a huge whole in the casing.
You see, cars do not run well and sometimes not very far when they are lacking something as important as fluid in the transaxle.
I often find myself amazed when people who see themselves as Christians seem honestly confused and surprised things are not going well in their lives when upon examination it is easily evident they have neglected their soul and its need for Christ. Like my car, the soul does not run well and even sometimes explodes and comes to a jerking halt when it is lacking that which is critical.
We wonder why we make bad decisions or “luck” doesn’t seem to be on our side. We do not understand why ‘God lets these bad things happen to us’. We feel betrayed when relationships with our spouse, our children, our friends or others seem strained, even damaged. Why would God allow such a thing?
Why is this such a surprise? When we neglect our soul and allow it to be drained of that which is critical and then try to replace that with the wrong thing it is expected that things will run smoothly. We have removed ourselves from the influence of God upon our lives. We are a ship floating on the waters with no rudder, no sail and no oars. We are pushed along in every direction. Sometimes God may indeed “allow” or even cause certain things to happen in our lives. This can really irritate us as we think “how can a loving God does such?” Is it not love that would allow or bring into our lives something that would awaken us to Him that we might avoid something far worse and eternal?
We cannot neglect our relationship with God without there being negative consequences. You need the Word of God in your life. You need prayer in your life. You need Christian fellowship in your life. You need to be proclaiming the witness of God in your life. These things build and strengthen your relationship with God and you definitely need that in your life. Don’t let your life be drained of what is really critical and then try and fill it up with something different.