In August, my wife and I were given a gently used gazebo by our friends. We were thinking about getting one, so the price was right, and we were glad to go and pick it up from them!
The catch? No instructions.
With the exception of one hand-drawn sheet from our friends that showed how the corners went together – which was immeasurably valuable, as it turns out – we had to figure out how somewhere around 50 pieces of metal fit together. It involved a lot of standing and staring last Saturday afternoon, and a fair bit of finger-tightening and finger-loosening and finger-tightening again. (There’s no point in fully tightening something you’re not sure fits in that spot, right?)
Well, 3.5 hours later, we successfully completed putting all the pieces together where they belonged. The photo gives proof. Now we just need to get it covered – a task which might get accomplished in the next few days.
I figure that if I had had the assembly instructions, this task could have been accomplished in approximately half the time. But that extra time is a small price to pay for a free gazebo!
It got me thinking, though, how human beings try to get through life without instructions. The old joke is that men never ask for directions, and that if Moses had asked for directions, the Israelites would not have wandered in the desert for 40 years! Yet even if we are willing to read a map (old school!) or input an address into a GPS and follow it, in an attempt to get to a specific place, we often are reluctant to follow instructions to progress in day-to-day living.
Someone has said that the word “Bible” is an acronym for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” I’m not sure it’s all that simple, but it’s also not all that complicated, either. If we want to put together a puzzle, we look at the picture on the box. If we want to put together a bookshelf, we read the (wordless) directions from IKEA. The manufacturer provides instructions that make the process better.
That is, in part, what Scripture is for us: instructions provided by the manufacturer that make the process – of living – better.
Struggling in life? Read the Bible – especially the Psalms, wherein you will find every possible emotional response to God – and let the Lord speak into your life through his Word.
“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life. Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119.103-105, NLT).