I killed our van. I was driving along at the peak of summer—and also at the peak of rush hour—completely lost. In the middle of crawling traffic, my air conditioner stopped working. I thought it was just bad luck that I was stuck in traffic and my car had no AC, so I did what I often do when things are going wrong: I powered through.

I finally got my GPS to work, finally got to where I needed to pick up my kids, and started driving home with the windows open. On the last bit of my drive home, I started hearing a strange sound. It was the kind of sound even someone ignorant about cars knows is bad. It was already dark, and we were on a country road. I knew there was a gas station about two miles ahead, so I pushed on to the gas station. By the time we pulled in, the billows of oil-laced smoke announced our arrival to everyone around.

Within minutes, I was surrounded by several guys who had taken notice of my obvious “damsel in distress” situation. It didn’t take them a second to figure out that the radiator was dry, the car seriously overheated, and very likely the engine cracked.

That’s when one of the guys showed me this little thing on the dash called the heat gauge. It was stuck to the high end, indicating that the engine was way too hot. I learned that night that the heat gauge was probably indicating the problem to me long before I pushed the overheated car to run for 60 miles in the middle of a Texas summer. Or, in the words of my husband, “This whole thing could have been prevented.”

See, the AC had shut down because the car was overheating, and it was eliminating functions that weren’t absolutely necessary. That should have been an indication to me that the car was in need of some attention. If I’d thought to glance at the heat gauge, I would have noticed that it was getting too hot. I could have pulled over and gotten some help to add some fluid to the radiator. That simple little action would have saved our car. Ah, hindsight!

Each of us has gauges that tell us what we need—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For example, I know that whenever I get overtired, I get an earache. When I start to feel like I’m totally worn and in need of some nurturing, I know I need to carve out some me-time to replenish my spirit. When I feel like yelling at everyone, I know I need to stop and address whatever’s bothering me.

Learning what your gauges are and how to read them can help you prevent some serious problems and complications. In our fast-paced world, we’re used to things like email, streaming, texting, and googling—all of which put information and communication at our fingertips in a matter of seconds. We have fast food, fast entertainment, and fast computers. Our transportation is faster than ever. But our bodies, minds, and spirits still need to recharge.

We too can “crack,” just like the engine of my car, if we don’t learn how to read our gauges and adjust our pace accordingly. That leads to unwanted problems, accidents, ruined friendships, and even debilitating stress-related illness.

Jesus understood how we humans work. He knew we would try to show off how we could lift our own “heavy burdens.” His advice to us? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”1

According to Jesus, we aren’t always supposed to be feeling like we need to power through. When we feel weighed down, overburdened, overwhelmed, or stressed, we’re supposed to go to Him and He will give us rest. Just like putting some fluid in the car’s radiator would have saved the engine from cracking, the rest Jesus gives can save us from losing it.

  1. Matthew 11:28–30 NIV