[490 words]

When was the last time you bought something (anything) new? Like most of us, you probably pulled out the new product, proceeded to put it together or plug it in to use based on your previous experience with the product, only to discover that you have that one bolt extra that should probably go somewhere in or on that new product! I am not fond of manuals—too much reading necessary to get to the “practical” instructions. I spend more time trying to decipher the pictures detailing the assembly process, and never mind how it actually works or is to be maintained for peak performance. Besides, I know how to put together a new product and how to keep it maintained! Even though manuals are somewhat tedious, repetitive with the “obvious”, and full of what I would consider “useless” material, there is a purpose for manuals.

Life comes with a manual, but unfortunately, the tendency is to toss the manual aside, suggesting we know how everything is to work, and just kind of “wing it”! But time after time we find ourselves asking the question “Why” or “What am I supposed to do next”? We face situations difficult to deal with and questions which we find difficult to answer. Or maybe we find ourselves feeling hopeless and do not know which way to turn.

The manual for life is the Bible. God created the heavens and the earth, placed man in the garden to cultivate it, keep it, and warned of dangers ahead (Gen. 1:1; 2:15-17). That is a manual I think I could have followed, but as simple and plain as it seems, man chose to ignore the manual, following his own thinking and bringing into the world sin and death. The manual has slowly been revealed over time (Eph. 9:10; Heb. 1:1-2), but many times with man choosing to discard the manual and “make it on his own”. Cue up the words of Dr. Phil, “And how is that working for you?”

Before we boast too loudly at our ability to follow the manual, when was the last time you opened the manual and read through it? Have you read through it in its entirety? When was the last time you read more than a couple of verses in one sitting? And just like some of the product manuals I have read, there are parts of God’s manual that may appear to be tedious, hard to read, and at first look not applicable to life today. But on further examination, we will find God’s manual to be just what we need to guide us through this life to life everlasting! “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). 

Paul Mowrer
Monticello church of Christ
Monticello, AR

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