After sitting at the car dealership for about 45 minutes, the service agent came into the waiting room looking somber. He sat next to me with a yellow form in his hands and said, “your car needs a lot of repairs.” Those are not the words you want to hear when you take your car in for inspection.
He proceeded to tell me all the things that were wrong with my car while he pointed at a series of scribblings on his yellow form which may as well have been hieroglyphics or Sanskrit. He went on and on rambling about this and that and the other. The only word I actually was able to make out was “strut.” I had no idea what it meant, but as he said it I was able to semi-read it on the Sanskrit scribbling. Later, I looked it up online, but after reading the first sentence of the definition,- “a structural component designed to resist longitudinal compression,”- I closed my laptop and called Dan.
I told the service guy to just do the essential and that I needed to go. I drove away with a sticker that read “failed inspection” and a lighter wallet. Thinking about it now, the whole ordeal could be summarized in one word, neglect. This is a very sad word, indeed. This is a word that brings up images of derelict houses in run down towns or dirty faces and filthy rags on children aimlessly riding their rusty bikes. The word makes me think of one-bedroom apartments with 65 cats, empty dining rooms, silenced family rooms, sad puppy faces and withered plants.
Granted, my car has been faithfully servicing me for over 10 years so it is bound to have some issues. But the issues that it faced today are the product of my neglect. I’ve taken it for granted. I actually love my car. It has served me very well. It is an incredibly reliable vehicle and it just will not quit, regardless of the level of neglect that I have subjected it to. I trust it with the lives of my sons and my own. We’ve made countless memories in that car, but I have not taken good care of it and it shows now, in the form of expensive repairs.
It is the same with everything in life. Neglect is a fatal condition that threatens to destroy whatever falls under its claws. Everything, you name it, could potentially vanish if fallen prey to neglect, especially relationships. It is relationships' number one killer, if you ask me. It withers interest. It washes away desire. It nullifies communication. It diminishes interaction. It decreases affection. It erases good will. It slowly poisons from the roots and if you don’t do something in a timely manner, before you realize it, the fruit is rotten to the core.
The good news is, (now I’m sounding like my Pastor : ) it is actually a reversible condition. Like my car, a thorough inspection, diagnosis and treatment can and will make all the difference. Taking care of what’s wrong will stop the catastrophic effects that would result if left unattended. And like my car, a basic and many times, simple maintenance plan carried out faithfully will keep it from being irreversibly damaged.
Like in all relationships, the same is true in our relationship with our Lord and Savior. It will wither away and not bear fruit if we neglect it, just like the writer warned us in Hebrews:
Paying “much closer attention to what we have heard” so we don’t go adrift is the admonition to believers who tend to neglect their relationship with Christ. We have all the evidence laid out in front of us, “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” We won’t escape. Neglecting our relationship with Jesus will only result in diminished maturity and a life less than abundant. Just like my car, which is as reliable as a work horse and will not quit regardless of the neglect, Jesus will not quit on us regardless of our neglect. But the relationship won’t be the same. It won’t be all that it could be and we will miss out on a smoother ride. We will miss out on the ride of our lives.
I did walk out of the dealership and Dan made an appointment somewhere else where we won’t get overcharged. My trusty Civic will get the needed repairs. And one thing I know is that I resolve to not take it for granted any more. I will pay “much closer attention” from now on. The same way I will do all that I can to stick to a maintenance schedule in my relationships so I don’t have to worry about escaping “such great salvation.”