John and I had just finished up some Christmas shopping at the mall and were headed home. Taking the left on Center Street, we were almost back when an alarm in my car sounded and the screen on my dash flashed bright red with large white letters that said, BRAKE. My foot hit the pedal before I could actually get my head around the problem. Another second went by and I still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. And then, the scene played out in what seemed like slow motion before us. The car in front of me crashed into the car in front of it with such impact, that the lead car went careening off the road and the second car bounced back at us. Both cars were heavily damaged and the driver of the second car was injured.  We ended up less than three feet away, unscathed.

I later learned that safety system in my car, called the “Pre-collision System” continually monitors the car in front of it, and when it senses a sudden decrease in that car’s speed, it first warns the driver by sounding an alert and flashing the “brake” screen. If the driver responds by applying the brakes, the safety system will continue to evaluate the relative speeds of both cars and helps the driver by enhancing the braking if need be. If the driver doesn’t respond to the warning, the safety system applies the brakes for the driver – I imagine in a rather dramatic fashion. All science aside, we were safe and ever so thankful.

In John 16:12-15, Jesus says, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

As believers in Jesus Christ, one of the most blessed gifts we receive is that of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit Himself, coming to dwell within each one of us – becoming an abiding presence in our life. His presence calls for us to be in a relationship with Him. He is a friend that we welcome each morning to order our day. I consider the Holy Spirit a helper who provides us with love, truth, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, power, freedom, hope, peace, comfort, and honestly the list can go on and on. But after last week’s close call, I have added a new description to the list. He provides us with our very own built-in safety system. And at times, even the term “Pre-Collision System” works.

When the green flag waves and we are at peace with ourselves, we can be confident we are being led by the Spirit and doing what God wants us to do. Sometimes a yellow flag is waving and we are unsure of ourselves. [T]he Holy Spirit helps us where we are weak. We do not know how to pray or what we should pray for, but the Holy Spirit prays to God for us with sounds that cannot be put into words. Romans 8:28 The Holy Spirit will help us make the choices in our life that are pleasing to God, when we are confused and can’t figure things out. We just need to seek out His advice.

On occasion, a red flag goes up. That’s when the Spirit is our “Pre-Collision System,” convicting us of our sin and warning us that we are about to hit a wall or head down a bad path. He does this, not by condemning us, but by bringing to our conscience the thought, work or action that is offensive, and shining a light on the grace we already have to correct it. Often, with Satan’s help and our own guilt we condemn ourselves, and guilt drowns out the voice of the Spirit, which is exactly what the enemy wants to happen. But the Holy Spirit does not dwell in darkness, He is always striving for the good that He can do in us and lead us to. He reminds us that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross paid the price for our sins. When we repent, we are sinless and reconciled to the Father.

It’s easy to say “woe is me”, “I’m weak,” “I messed up my life.” It takes faith to truly listen to the Spirit and allow Him to lead us out of our sin. It takes faith to hit that pedal when the BRAKE light flashes, when we don’t fully understand why. But we can be sure that the Holy Spirit will always lead us according to God’s plan for us. So take a rest, let go of some of the stress today, and let the Spirit lighten your load. He is ready to help whenever you are ready to let Him. Trust your built-in safety system!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

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