It caught me off guard. I was on my way to school. Jamming to some rap. Feeling pretty good. When all of a sudden, a warning came across my dashboard: “Warning, engine overheated.”
I glanced at the temperature gauge, only to find the dial resting on red. Needless to say, I was freaking out. I stopped my engine as soon as I could. Hello, State Route 733. The outskirts of Pomeroy.
My Meigs County readers know two things about 733: there’s nowhere to pull off, and the cell phone service is terrible.
After letting my engine cool for a couple of minutes, I made it to Taz’s gas station. I finally reached my dad on the phone. He said, “Pop the hood. Check the antifreeze.”
And here’s a good place to pause. Because Isaiah Pauley is not a handy man. I’m one of those “book smart” people. When it comes to anything mechanical, I’m totally lost.
When my dad told me to pop the hood, I didn’t know how. No joke. I was running out of time to get to class. Did I mention I was freaking out?
About ten minutes later, my mom arrived with another car. And by God’s grace, I made it to class on time.
During lunch, I called my mom to ask how my car was doing. Turns out, one of the parts containing the antifreeze was cracked. Antifreeze had been shooting into the air. Splashing against the hood. How? Ask a mechanic.
Throughout the day, the Spirit spoke to me concerning this experience. I soon realized a correlation between my car and my life. Like my engine, I was overheated.
The day before this experience, I wrote ten words in reference to my columns: “I just can’t even get myself to write one anymore.” I was overheated. Burnt out. But why? I was reading God’s Word. Devoting myself to prayer. Fasting. Serving. And obeying. Plenty of “antifreeze” had been placed in my tank.
I’m learning there’s a difference between my reception and my retention. Just because I’m “filling up” doesn’t mean I’m staying full. I’m receiving what I need to be on fire for Jesus. But I’m not retaining what I receive. My tank has a leak. As a result, I’m overheated.
I’m not acting on what I know. I’m hearing, but I’m not doing. Call me a hypocrite. That’s fine. You may want to examine yourself first, though.
The Bible says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:22-25 ESV).
Maybe you’re receiving God’s Word. But are you retaining it? According to James, the way to retain what you receive is to put what you receive into practice. Actually, Paul says the same. He writes, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9 ESV).
You see, the problem in my car wasn’t a lack of antifreeze. It was a lack of antifreeze retention. There was a leak.
In the same way, you may hear God’s Word. Read. Pray. Go to church. But if you find yourself consistently low, maybe you’re struggling to practice what you’re receiving. Maybe you have a leak.
If that’s you, I know what it feels like. We must allow God to mend the leaks in our lives. He desires to make us whole.
“But he [Jesus] was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isa. 53:5 NLT).
I almost quit writing. I almost quit something I love.
I’m overheated. I need healed. I need to retain what I receive. I’m recovering from a handful of transitions. God has me where He wants me. I’m seeking the wise counsel of others. And the healing process is underway.
Maybe the same is true for you. I pray God mends the cracks in your life. I pray He fills you with His Spirit. Where there’s Jesus, there’s hope.