Authored by Mara Hodler
Last summer I killed our van. Yup. No one saw it coming. I was driving along at the peak of summer—and also at the peak of rush hour—completely lost. In the middle of crawling traffic, my air conditioner stopped working. I thought it was just bad luck that I was stuck in traffic and my car had no AC, so I did what I often do when things are going wrong: I powered through.
I finally got my GPS to work, finally got to where I needed to pick up my kids, and started driving home with the windows open. On the last bit of my drive home, I started hearing a strange sound. It was the kind of sound even someone ignorant about cars knows is bad. It was already dark, and we were still on a country road. I knew there was a gas station about two miles ahead, and so I pushed on to the gas station. By the time we pulled in, our car was smoking; the billows of oil-laced smoke announced our arrival to everyone around.
Within minutes, I was surrounded by several guys who had taken notice of my obvious “damsel in distress” situation. It didn’t take them a second to figure out that the radiator was dry, the car seriously overheated, and very likely the engine cracked. Oh joy!
That’s when one of the guys showed me this little thing on the dash called the heat gauge. It was flailing around at the high end, indicating that the engine was way too hot. I learned that night that the heat gauge was probably indicating the problem to me long before I pushed the overheated car to run for 60 miles in the middle of a Texas summer. Or, in the words of my husband, “This whole thing could have been prevented.”
See, the AC shut down because the car was overheating, and it was eliminating functions that were not absolutely necessary. That should have been an indication to me that the car was in need of some attention. If I had thought to glance at the heat gauge, I would have noticed that it was getting too hot. I could have pulled over and figured out how to add some fluid to the radiator. That simple little action would have saved our car. Ah, hindsight!
I’m not sharing this with you simply because it’s useful information for any future drivers, although it is something worth remembering! I’m sharing it with you because it’s vitally important information for life: CHECK YOUR GAUGES.
Each of us has gauges that tell us what we need—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For example, every time I get overtired, I know I will get an earache. When I start to feel like I’m totally worn and in need of some nurturing, I know I need to carve out some time to replenish my spirit. When I feel like yelling at everyone, I know there’s something that is bothering me and I have to address it.
Learning what your gauges are and how to read them can help you prevent some serious problems and complications. The world we live in is fast-paced. We are used to things like email, streaming, texting, and Googling, all of which put information and communication at our fingertips in a matter of seconds. We have fast food, fast entertainment, and fast computers. Our transportation is faster than ever. But our bodies, minds, and spirits still need to recharge.
We too can “crack” just like the engine of my car if we don’t learn how to read our gauges and adjust our pace accordingly. I have seen people ignore their gauges and end up stuck in unwanted problems, in accidents, in ruined friendships, or even develop debilitating illnesses due to stress.
I have also produced some of these results in my own life. Sometimes it’s so hard to resist the desire to “power through” and ignore the danger signs. The thing is that the results are rarely impressive. Sure, there are times when you have to push yourself even when you’re tired, but those times should be the exception, not the rule.
I think Jesus really understood how we humans work. He knew we would always try and show off how we could lift our own “heavy burdens.” His advice to us?
“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”1
According to Jesus, we aren’t always supposed to be feeling like we need to “power through.” When we feel heavy laden (which basically means weighed down, overburdened, overwhelmed, or stressed), we are supposed to go to Him and He will give us rest. Just like putting some fluid in the car’s radiator would have saved the engine from cracking, the rest Jesus gives can save us from “losing it.”
There, in that rest Jesus gives, we can take on His yoke. That means the portion He knows we need and the part we can do. The rest we are meant to leave with Him. It’s our human nature (our pride) that makes us want to take on more than we can really handle. We don’t like to ask for help or show our weakness, or we get in too much of a hurry trying to take care of business, to where we try to push beyond our human limitations. That’s why we need to learn from Jesus’ meekness and lowliness. He always acknowledged that it was by His Father’s power that He did everything He did.
Learn to listen to your gauges and you will spare yourself a humongous load of heartache. The first step is learning that there actually are gauges and recognizing what your gauges are. When you learn to pay attention to your indicators, you will begin to learn how to give your body, mind, and spirit what they each need to survive and thrive.
1 Matthew 11:28–30 KJV
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2013 by The Family International