We have a small John Deere tractor, a 3038E, that was bought a few years ago. It’s similar to the cute ones on display at nearly every dealership of all brands. When dressed up with a front-end loader they are highly irresistible.   

Jimmy, my late brother, kept our little tractor busy. Since his death last July, however, it had been largely neglected. Lately, though, the green machine and I have been spending quality time together. 

The tractor has been great for moving freshly-sawed chinaberry limbs and sections of their trunks. Plus it has helped in pulling up old fence wire and hauling scrap metal out of the woods. Everything was copasetic until the warning lights came on.

“Parked DPF Regen Required” was the instrument panel’s message. There was also a lighted symbol I didn’t understand, plus an exclamation point indicating something needed urgent attention.

Unsure what to do, I switched the tractor off. That night I looked through the manual and did some online research. I learned DPF stands for diesel particulate filter and regen is short for regeneration.

My mechanical skills are nil, a shortened version of my name, so I read the operating instructions and watched several YouTube videos. One fellow explained the regen feature ensures that tractors comply with government emission regulations. 

He said regeneration burns up particulates which are 700 times smaller than a human hair. That may be right, but I’d love to send a personal sample for testing.  

Engine heat cleans soot from the filter during the parked regen process. A clogged filter would diminish the tractor’s performance, so regeneration keeps it up to par.

A couple of things about this procedure seem counterproductive. One video said tractors need the parked regen process more often if operated at a low rpm, revolutions per minute. Run it faster and load it down, the man said, and the cleansings are done automatically.

I was trying to do the motor a favor by not using more rpm than the work required, which was about idle speed. In human terms it would be like walking at three miles per hour compared to running at 15. Most of us would rather walk unless something was chasing us. 

When a tractor idles, however, the engine doesn’t get hot enough to burn the particulates, so a parked regen is required. Apparently the best way to keep the filter clean is to run the engine faster than the work may sometimes require.

The other aspect that’s a bit disconcerting is the fuel required for a parked regen. It takes 30 to 40 minutes, during which time the tractor can’t be used for anything else. So cleaning the filter requires a half hour’s worth of fuel while not accomplishing anything. 

Once again I’m explaining something I don’t really understand, so accuracy is not guaranteed. It just strikes me as odd that air quality standards are being met by burning extra fuel. But that’s not why I’m telling more than you wanted to know about regeneration.

It occurred to me that a similar warning system could be helpful in the area of faith to alert us if we’re getting clogged up with pollutants. We can’t operate our spiritual engines at maximum capacity all the time, but it’s tempting to idle them for extended periods. When we do that, particulates tend to accumulate rather than being cleaned on the go.

Spiritual regeneration comes in many ways. Three of the most common are corporate worship, personal Bible study, and prayer. But showing up is not enough. Attitude and effort are essential. 

Malachi, a prophet who lived about 400 years before Christ, told how God would refine his people just as fire refines silver and gold. I don’t know what all that might entail, but what I do know is that my sometimes sluggish approach toward faith needs improvement.

I probably can’t run 15 miles per hour, not even for an embarrassingly short distance. But I can do better than three. It’s the same with faith. Without flashing lights and exclamation points, God’s warning system is easily overlooked or ignored. But there’s no doubt what my internal sensors are telling me. It’s past time for regeneration.   

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1 Response to Regeneration

  1. Ellen Hunsucker says:

    Once again, a great analogy! By the way, you’ve come a long way with your diy skills! Thank goodness for YouTube!


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