CONNECTIONS: Make sure to listen for the warning signs

Oh, great. Now I’ve really done it.
I sat disgusted in the middle of the hospital parking lot, not sure what to do next.
Although the grinding noise in the rear brakes of my car had been growing increasingly louder over the previous several weeks, I kept shoving it to the back of my mind.
Maybe the problem would miraculously heal itself. After all, I was a young college student and did not have the money for a mechanic.
Every time I slid in behind the wheel of my Ford Escort wagon I prayed that I would somehow make it to my destination.
I realized that my luck would eventually run out, and it did.
I had been visiting a friend whose wife had just had a baby, so as I turned my key in the ignition and thrust the car in reverse, rusted out brakes were the furthest thing from my mind.
That is, until a sickening crunching sound jolted me back to reality at the same instant that my jalopy jerked to an abrupt halt.
At first I feared that I had backed into some little old lady’s car, or maybe the little old lady herself.
Then I quickly realized that all the components of my rear brake system that had been laboring so intensely while I foolishly pushed them beyond their limits had finally surrendered in a blaze of glory.
Slowly and carefully (although not very wisely) I was able to coax my frail vehicle to grind her way to the house of a friend who lived nearby.
Having a little experience tinkering with automobiles, I decided to survey the damage for myself.
When I jacked up the car and pulled off the wheel and drum, I was greeted with a shower of bent and broken springs, levers, and various unidentified metal shavings.
As I stared dumbfounded at the metallic rubbish now scattered all over my friend’s driveway, I realized that I had made a costly mistake. Putting off the needed repairs had caused the damage to become much worse.
I did learn a valuable lesson that day, one which may have saved me a great amount of money through the years.
When my vehicles send me warning signals that something is going wrong, I am much quicker to resolve the issue.
Putting off problems does not make them go away; it actually makes them worse.
I am glad I learned this lesson with something as insignificant as a car.
I was able to repair the brakes and continue to drive the car like nothing had ever happened.
In other areas of life, however, we may not be so fortunate.
I cannot count how many times I have heard people bemoan the fact that an estranged family member or friend died, terminating the possibility of restoring the broken relationship.
Some folks put off maturity too long, hoping to “live it up” for a while before settling down, but then reap lifelong consequences of foolish decisions.
Most importantly, it is tempting to put off thinking about what will happen after death, which we all will inevitably face.
I was fortunate to get a second chance with my car.
As long as you are alive, God is giving you a second chance to make things right with Him. It does not matter who you are or what you have done. He is merciful and willing to forgive you on account of the sacrifice of His Son. However, He warns us that the opportunity will pass.
“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). When you stand before Him in judgment, it will be too late to make any changes.
Until that time, He waits for you with arms open wide, ready to forgive.
Ben Hammond has been the pastor of First Baptist Church in Bremen since 2008. He and his wife Lori have four children. He is also working on his doctorate at Grace Theological Seminary, and enjoys spending time on the water. You can visit him at www.BenHammond.org.