A few years ago, I bought a fairly new used car. It seems that not long after I bought it, I noticed an odd noise coming from the engine. I asked several mechanics about the noise, but no one knew for sure what it was. So I kept on driving.

A few weeks ago, weird things began happening with the car- the horn stopped working and the battery light would come on intermittently. I know very little about cars, but I figured that since the car started fine, the battery must be fine and that it must be some kind of glitch in the electronics.

Then one day the car just died. Even using jumper cables to start the car from another car’s battery would not work. After trying various solutions, I finally had to have the car towed to a mechanic. After having the car’s computer replaced, it finally would start. The computer failed because the alternator was not working properly, so I had to also replace the alternator.

One of the first things I noticed was that the noise from the engine was gone, so it must have been the alternator that needed to be replaced all along. The car had given me plenty of warning signs along the way, and although I made some feeble attempts to diagnose the problem, it took a near catastrophe before I really invested the time, effort, and money to take care of the car.

While I have learned specifically the importance of paying attention to a car’s cues that there may be a problem, I am much more interested and concerned about the implications this has for other areas of my life.

Although there are certainly exceptions, I think that most often our most valuable “possessions” are not taken from us in an instant but rather slowly fade away from neglect.  I believe that we generally have some kind of warning signs when things begin to go amiss in our lives.  We cannot go too far astray if we regularly “check the pulse” of those things that we most cherish- our faith, health, relationships, etc.- and if we make necessary course corrections.

As I evaluate my life and consider where I am compared to where I would like to be, it is easy to feel frustrated, hopeless, and discouraged.  So I close with this quote from Elder Hafen’s talk Beauty for Ashes:  The Atonement of Jesus Christ:

“Another affirmative endowment of grace is the gift of hope, which blesses us with the state of mind necessary to deal with the gap between where we are and where we seek to be. As the remission of our sins makes us lowly of heart and meek enough to receive the Holy Ghost, the Comforter fills us with “hope.” (See Moro. 8:25–26.) The gift of hope offers peace and perspective, like the encouragement we feel when a close friend gives us insight about a difficult problem and we sense that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Such hope can be literally life-sustaining when given us by the Savior, for the light at the end of life’s darkest tunnels is the Light and the Life of the world.”

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