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Driven to Gladness

by Rhonda Rhea

It looked like the sideview outline of a little robot ducky head. Sort of cute, really. I was shocked when somebody told me it’s the check engine light.

That light doesn’t literally mean to check the engine, though, right? Because I feel like my engine is still there whether I check or not.

Not that I would know exactly where to find it. If I found it, what then? I’m not equipped for car repairs, people. I once untangled my seatbelt. That exhausted the full scope of my car repair skills.

So my plan: ignore the engine light. The car currently works. Everything is fine.

I’d prefer to get in the car and go rather than face up to any unpleasantness under the hood any ol’ day. Tap the brakes on that negativity, thanks.

Sad to say, I’m also tempted to suggest we save all negative emotions for people who are better equipped for them. All while I’m clicking on my turn signal and speeding off in the other direction. I think I’m better at stuffing ick emotions. Tap the brakes on those. As long as I feel like the engine is fine.

Emotions can be so wonderful. And so terrible. The darker ones can keep us from enjoying the blessed life God calls us to live. They can keep us from seeing the glorious blessings of a moment. Or they can send us off on some detour—the opposite direction of the road God is calling us to travel.

But the answer is not to ignore feelings. Or stuff them. Some of those emotions refuse to be ignored for long. We can end up with a smoking engine or a weird backfire. Everything is not fine. So, no, we don’t ignore the warning lights. We take our wounds, worries, anxieties and angers to our Father. Sometimes we may be dealing with them over an extended period. He’s okay with that. We’re under warranty. He is patient and loving and desires to see His children whole.

Healthy emotions can be part of the driving engine behind great accomplishments. They might be a spark of inspiration God uses to nudge us in a fruitful direction. Positive emotions are a blessing. And even the not-so-positive ones have value. Emotions are not our enemies. Allowing them to take over and rule our thinking and behavior, however, can be.

So what do we do with emotions? First, we recognize them for what they are. Second, we understand that there are times they can’t be trusted. Third, we remember that our feelings need to be sifted through the truth of God. As we come into the presence of the Lord and invite Him to work beyond our feelings, He gives direction and so often gives us a clearer picture of His will for us.

Let His presence fill you and override any errant feelings. Take your counsel from Him as you pray and read His Word. “I will bless the Lord who counsels me—even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely” (Psalm 16:7-9 CSB).

Whatever direction your feelings are trying to drive you, let His truth steer. You’ll find steadfastness, an all-over gladness and rejoicing, and the most secure rest.

That kind of secure rest is a soul thing. Definitely not a car thing. Because, yuh-oh, my car is not only flashing the robot ducky head, now it’s making a sound. It might’ve been a quack. And I think I smell feathers.

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist and radio personality who speaks at conferences and events all over the country. In addition to her weekly radio spot and pastors’ wives column, she also makes regular appearances on Focus on the Family’s Weekend Magazine radio show. Rhonda makes regular TV appearances as well, and is the author of ten books. She lives near St. Louis and is a pastor’s wife and mother of five grown children.


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