Every time we start a vehicle, either one or a series of tests will run automatically and evaluate its operating condition. We will often see several indicators briefly illuminated on the dashboard, or a central display will give us various information about the status of the engine, electrical system, transmission, etc. Sometimes an indicator, such as a ‘check engine light,’ will remain lit or will flash to indicate that a part or a specific area has malfunctioned. Then we become aware that we have a problem that needs to be dealt with in order to continue to have a vehicle that will work correctly when we need it.
Likewise, when we turn on our phones, televisions, music players, computers, or other electronic devices, a diagnostic check usually occurs. If it detects a failure, the unit will not be able to continue its startup sequence, and an error code or message will then be displayed.
Industries both big and small have self-checks occurring on their equipment all the time while they are in operation. Otherwise, if a particular piece of equipment has unknowingly failed, the result could potentially be both catastrophic and very costly.
The ‘Check Engine Light’ is Your First Indicator
These self-tests are very useful in alerting us about potential problems, but they also serve as a helpful starting point in repairing or resolving the breakdown. A car might notify you through a ‘check engine light’ or equivalent of an error code that was just stored in the car’s memory. Instead of checking the transmission, or the battery, or a hundred other places, the mechanic can direct his efforts to just one particular area associated to that error code.
A personal computer’s self-diagnosis may give a message about a problem with its memory, a hard drive, or some other part. The repair technician only needs to examine that one component, rather than wasting time analyzing other items that are actually fully functional.
We Have Our Own ‘Check Engine Light’ That God Activates
We also undergo a kind of self-test of our own as a child of God. He continually conducts tests like this through His Holy Spirit in us. While there is no physical ‘check engine light’ that comes on or flashes. He will bring into focus various things in our life we need to either stop doing or get rid of. But, as long as these areas of disobedience and sin are not taken care of, we can never be fully functional in the way He intends for us to be. Then we will not be able to experience completeness in Him.
Parents will often look at their young children in the light of what they desire for them to be, or according to what they know they are capable of achieving. And an artist almost always has the final work in mind when he begins. But, as the work progresses, blemishes will often appear and give it a faulty appearance. Yet the artist knows these faults are correctable in one way or another, and he continues to see only the flawless, finished piece he is aiming for in his mind. He will not allow temporary imperfections to keep him from completing the work as he first envisioned it.
God Wants to Make Us Into the Ideal Image That He Sees
In a similar way, God always sees the end result when He looks at us. He desires to remove the ‘blemishes’ from us that occur along the way, so that we can fulfill His desire to make us the masterpiece He has already seen in His mind. By resisting His efforts and corrections, we not only hinder the completion of the final work He has in mind, but we also negatively impact our relationship with Him.
As our Creator, God knows us much better than we know ourselves. We tend to look on the surface and often admit that some change is necessary, while, deep down, we are not aware of all of the habits and baggage we still carry around from our sinful past—much of which we have forgotten, while others we have simply repressed.
Don’t Ignore His ‘Check Engine Light’
God cannot tolerate these flawed things in our heart, and neither should we. We should not be like the person who grew so tired of seeing the ‘check engine light’ flashing on the vehicle’s instrument panel that they removed the bulb, only to find themselves stranded later when the motor stopped working! When the Holy Spirit does a check on our life and brings to the surface some problem or behavior that we need to deal with or remove, we should not ignore it or do something just to cover it up, like the blinking ‘check engine light.’
Whenever God performs these self-checks on us through His Spirit, we need to listen to Him, and pay attention to the results. A ‘check engine light’ isn’t just an added illumination piece. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. Therefore, He will never force us to do anything. Yet He is always aware of what is best for us, so He will not bring to light what we must change or eliminate unless He has seen a need or problem in us.
Open your heart today to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to do a diagnostic check on you right now, to show you what you need to deal with or eliminate that needs attention. Let your attitude be like that of the psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24). Don’t ignore the ‘check engine light’ in your heart.