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A little while back I bought a Jeep Wrangler. It was what you might call “used.” I bought it that way on purpose. For one, I couldn’t afford a new Jeep. For two, I wanted to use this car to teach me a few things.

I want to be the kind of guy who knows my way around a car. How cool would it be to open up the hood and be like, “looks like the carbonator is kaput.” Or is it carburetor? I want to learn stuff like that. Like how to change a spark plug. Or know what to check when the check engine light turns on.

Well, the Jeep has been a good teacher. I should say, the Jeep has provided me lots of opportunities for me to learn.

What I didn’t expect is that the Jeep would also teach me things about life.

Here are a few:

  1. When things get older, things break, sometimes by no fault of their own. My dad recently experienced this as I wrote to you all last week. My wife experienced this, too. She is hobbling around with a stress fracture as we speak. Now, you didn’t hear it from me that she is old! But for all youngins out there, things start happening when you are in your forties – like the fact I’m reading with readers now. The lesson – embrace the change. You may not be able to do all the things you could do before, but you still can do a lot of things, so keep moving forward.
  2. When the fuel line breaks, you’re going to run out of gas real fast. The crazy part is that the car can still go for quite a while. You see, the fuel line is like the circulatory system. It pumps into the heart (the engine) and then pumps out of the engine (the heart). Mine was pumping in and then spraying everywhere on the way out. So instead of completing the circle, it watered the road. This will not get you far in a Jeep or in life. You need to keep yourself fueled and fix the things that are sucking you dry. This can be on the input and the output side, so pay attention where the leak is.
  3. You got to drain the old oil before you put in the new. In order to receive good things, you first have to get rid of some old things to make room.
  4. When the brake light goes on, check the brakes. You can check other things, but it’s probably the brakes. YouTube helped me find them. Turns out, in my case, I was out of brake fluid. You need that. In life, sometimes the problem is the problem.
  5. But the brake light is still on. Turns out, the brake line was leaking. YouTube helped me find that as well. You don’t want your brake line to leak. So sometimes in life, the cause of your problem is caused by something else. It’s important to get to the root of the problem. Otherwise, you will have to keep on going back to the auto store to buy more brake fluid.
  6. If your Jeep sits for too long, like all winter, it’s not going to start. This falls under the use it or lose it category. It’s a lot easier for Jeeps, and you, to do what they were made to do if they are doing what they were made to do. If they, and you, sit under a tarp for too long, they and you are going to have a hard time getting going.
  7. Keep jumper cables handy and running shoes. I keep both in the back of the Jeep. Sometimes the Jeep has a hard time starting. But, once it is going, everything is fine. Starting, in other words, is always the hardest part. This is true in life. I also have a back-up plan – my running shoes. I haven’t had to use them yet, but they are there if I need them. In other words, have a back-up plan, and you’ll never be stranded.
  8. Finally, if you own a Jeep, other Jeep owners will wave at you. I don’t know if this ritual exists with any other car. But it does with Jeeps and their owners. Old. New. Don’t matter. It’s a family, and it’s great to be part of one. And in Christ, you have one, too. And it’s good to know you are not alone.

Especially, when you are prone to break down, like me and my Jeep.

Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founder and Executive Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows, a non-profit dedicated to equipping people to live seamless lives as they grow into the men and women they were created to be. He is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed novel Clay. He, his wife, two children, dogs, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, and chickens live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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