The Dreaded Check Engine Light

In the mid-1980s, cars and trucks sold in the United States made the transition to electronic fuel injection which requires the use of an onboard computer and numerous engine sensors that monitor engine performance so changes can be made to the air/fuel mixture as conditions warrant. The onboard computer also detects any problems that might come up as a result of the failure of one those sensors, or whenever a sensor detects an out of range value, like too much air or fuel going into the engine. When one of those problems is detected, the computer turns on the dreaded and feared “Check Engine” light on your instrument panel, or one that says “Service Engine Soon”. I say dreaded and feared because that light could just as easily say “Get Out Your Wallet”.  It can be a cheap fix, or it can be very expensive.

A few months back, my truck’s Check Engine light came on, meaning that the computer had detected a problem and set a trouble code. A quick scan revealed that it was same code that had caused the Check Engine light to come on some 18 months earlier, code P0174, which is the code for an engine that’s running too lean (too much air in the air/fuel mixture). Up until that time, I’d never had any problems with the electronic fuel injection system on that truck, so when the Check Engine came on back then, I had to do quite a bit of research in order to diagnose and fix the problem. I didn’t know where to start looking. As I discovered, there was a number of possible causes that could set that particular code. The service manuals called for a fuel pump pressure check, a fuel pressure regulator test, an EGR valve operational test, fuel line inspections, vacuum hose inspections, and much, much more. Typically, you start by checking the smallest and simplest things first (i.e. least expensive) when diagnosing these types of problems, and you work your way up from there. Even so, it was still time consuming. Eventually though, the problem was found to be a bad vacuum hose in the PCV system. It had a hole on the bottom side of it which caused the engine to take in too much air and set the trouble code.

When the computer set that same code the second time, I immediately knew where to start looking for the problem. I only had to consult the manual to refresh my memory. And as it turned out, there was another hose in the same general vicinity that had a hole worn in it. It took a lot less time to find the problem the second time around because of what was learned from the previous experience.

The Bible tells us in  2 Timothy 3 that  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  I had to use a service manual to track down and repair a problem with my truck, and it took a lot longer the first time because I had no idea where to begin looking. But the second time I was ready because I had acquired the knowledge I needed to deal with the problem, and applied that knowledge based on experience.

It’s the same with Scripture. The Bible is our service manual for life. I know that might sound a bit trite to some, but I say that because I’ve so often heard it said that human beings do not come with an instruction manual. That’s just not true. Our Creator DID give us a manual. It’s an instruction manual that points us to the way of salvation in Christ and shows us how to live God honoring lives; and it’s a service manual for when times of trouble come our way. And trouble will come. It’s inevitable. Jesus said we will have trouble in this world.

Sometimes, in fact I’d say the majority of the time, our troubles are self-inflicted because of sin in our lives. But there are also plenty of times when we incur problems because of outside influences that we have no control over. Regardless, the Bible is our best resource for dealing with the troubles and problems of life. As we study and apply it, and as we grow in our knowledge of God’s word, the better equipped we become to deal with life’s trials. When a problem comes up or when there’s a decision to be made, it might be that we’re able to recall specific passages that guide us to the right answer. Either that, or we at least know where to turn to in the Bible to find the answer. When that trouble code set the second time, I didn’t have to spend hours poring through the service manual like I did the first time. I knew where to look.

With all that said, did I have to follow the troubleshooting procedures in the service manual? No, certainly not. The end result could have been a costly and unnecessary engine repair, but I could have ignored the service manual altogether and tried to find the solution……my way. I’ve worked in shops where I’ve seen mechanics do just that. I’ve seen them perform thousands of dollars’ worth of unnecessary repairs because they chose to ignore the service manual’s diagnostic procedures, or worse, because they chose to ignore what they had learned through their past experience.  Every day we see people ignoring God’s word and then having to live with the results of their poor choices. They say to themselves, “I’m going to live my life…my way.” “I’m going to fix this problem in my life and I don’t need anyone’s help.” More often than not, the end results are disastrous because they ignored God and tried to go it on their own.

Of course the Bible will not specifically tell you to accept that job you’ve been offered, nor will it tell you to turn it down. It doesn’t specifically tell you which career field you should go into or which college to send you son or daughter to. But the Bible will give you the guidance you need to make those kinds of important decisions. For instance, if that college you’re considering has a reputation for being hostile  toward Christian students, or if that company you’re thinking of going to work for has an unethical track record, there are plenty of passages in Scripture that will help you in your decision making process. It might be that you need to look for another college or place of employment, or you may feel God is leading you to a place where He’s asking you to be salt and light. But unless you’re in the word and in a right relationship with God, there’s really no way to know for sure.

On the other hand, the one thing the Bible does do very clearly is identify sins and attitudes in our lives that need to be dealt with. And when you think about, if our attitudes aren’t right, they will impact the decisions we make.

So from here going forward, I want to issue a little challenge. When faced with a problem, look for the solution in the Bible. When faced with a decision at home, consult the Bible. When faced with a decision at work, consult the Bible. I know, I know, you may be under the gun and you might have to make an immediate decision on some crucial matter. If that’s the case, consult the Bible afterwards to make sure you made the right call. Just consider the possibility that you might have to go back and change your decision. That’s why studying God’s word is so important, so we’ll know what to do when we’re pressed, so we’ll know BEFOREHAND how to respond when an immediate decision has to be made. So let’s make that our challenge, because no matter what decisions we may face, no matter what problems might come our way, we can find guidance and answers in God’s Holy Word.