Last night I would have told you it was a few days ago that it started. But much later last night I began to realize it started long before then. Probably a couple of weeks ago. Out of nowhere - whether driving down the road or sitting at a stop light - the battery gauge on my Jeep would go down. Not like it would slowly begin to drop. It would go DEAD. And immediately my CHECK GAUGES light would come on. As this began to happen over and over, I wrote it off. I thought, "This stupid Jeep has more issues than the Kardashian sisters. Now my battery gauge is broken!" After all, it seems like in the 4 months I've owned this vehicle, it's just been laughing at me. Taunting me.
I thought the gauge was broken.
I was wrong.
One thing I learned last night from my friend Steve is that the battery gauge isn't actually for the battery; it's for the alternator. Go figure. And to those of you who think like me, you may find that to be stupid. Join the club. But our disdain for gauge misrepresentation is only rooted in our ignorance. Understanding what an alternator actually does helps alleviate this confusion:
Alternator (n.) - Used in modern automobiles to charge the battery and power the electrical system when the engine is running.
So get this: If the alternator stops working, it tells your battery gauge to hit the floor. If your battery gauge is suddenly dropping like a limp noodle, this means your battery isn't being charged. And when your battery isn't being charged, it's eventually going to run out of juice. And when it runs out of juice, that means it's done. Game over. And at this point, most automotive geniuses like myself (insert laughter here) are left sitting in the car in the parking lot, cranking it over and over, wondering WHY I left the jumper cables hanging on that peg in the garage, beginning to boil over the fact that I'm about to have to purchase a brand new battery. When in reality, it's not the battery at all. In fact, the battery is just fine. It simply needs to be recharged.
The painful reality: It's the alternator that's broken. Which is a much bigger issue my friends.
[HUGE thanks to my friend Steve for spending 5 hours with me last night replacing my alternator.]
As I stood there freezing my backside off into the wee hours of the night, becoming a World Class Flashlight Holder, I thought about some things that I think many of us struggle with at times:
Sometimes, we think our spouse is the problem. And sometimes, we may be right. But more often than not, it's the greater issue of US.
Lots of people think the job that they're in really sucks. But the bigger problem is they haven't learned gratitude, humility, or a simple work ethic.
Parents spend countless amounts of time & energy trying to modify their child's behavior, without ever addressing the much bigger issue of the heart.
Today, millions of people will keep trying to patch up the surface and smooth things over and see if they'll maybe possibly be able to get it right enough that they'll "win God's approval", still failing to understand that while they'll never be able to "fix it all", they don't need to. Jesus has done that. We keep messing with the battery, running for the jumper cables, while the alternator sits there, less than a foot away, needing to be replaced.
How much time do we spend - how much of our hearts do we beat down - in pursuit of trying to fix things that really aren't the problem?
Is there any issue or an area in your marriage, with your children, in your job, with your health, or most importantly, in your relationship to Jesus Christ, where you need to finally address the actual problem?
I want to encourage you: Stop messing with the battery & replace the alternator.