In Think It’s Dead, Jim.

You don’t expect it to happen. It’s not something you anticipate. It’s not even something you think about all that much, until you have no choice.

I walked out of the office building, unlocked the car door, and slipped into the seat, just as I have done thousands of tines before. My mind was already a couple of miles down the road as I slipped the key into the ignition and gave it the usual twist. Then something unusual happened: nothing. When I say nothing I mean nothing—not a click, not a grind, not a growl, not the slightest sign of automotive life. Moments later, I was under the hood with test meter (which was conveniently located in my trunk) in hand. With a heavy sigh, and my best Doctor McCoy voice, I uttered the pronouncement that I was hoping to avoid” “I think it’s dead, Jim.”

The fatality of the moment was my car’s battery. I went through many of the usual phases of grief. There was denial (“But, I drove it just 30 minutes ago. It’s still warm!”), anger (“Aw, man! I don’t need this right now!”), guilt (“What did I do to cause this? Why didn’t I see any warning signs?”) and, finally, acceptance (“If I hurry, I borrow the truck and get to the auto parts store before they close.”). It’s funny, isn’t it, how we process losing a battery just like we process losing a faithful friend. The only difference is that our friends don’t usually have trade-in value when they fail us. I grabbed a wrench and a pair of truck keys, pulled out the battery, and hit the road. Less than an hour and about sixty bucks later, my car had a new battery and was once again running happily. I was way behind schedule, but at least this time I had a good excuse.

We can’t always predict when things like a dead battery will happen. Battery problems are usually easiest to discover on a cold morning, when that battery is at its weakest operating point and the engine needs the most power to turn over. Usually, there are warning signs, like progressively weaker performance when starting. Sometimes, they just “check out” and die without notice. Sounds a lot like the way life is in general, doesn’t it? Every day, people die unexpectedly. Whether it is caused by a heart attack, aneurism, or some other unexpected physical breakdown, we often hear of people who were fine one moment and dead the next. It’s a sobering realization that we may not have any warning at all about our own death, or that of the people who are the closest to us. Sometimes, it just happens, whether we’re ready or not.

Contemplating all this tends to give me a lot more respect for today. Today might be my last chance to hug my wife and daughter. Today might be my last chance to say “thanks,” or “I love you.” Today might be my last chance to tell someone about Jesus. It also might be their last chance to listen. I don’t know for sure how many “tomorrows” the Lord is going to let me have. All I can say for sure is that I have today.

I’m going to try my best, with God’s help, not to waste it.

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