Like most men, I sometimes have trouble following instructions. You guys know what I'm talking about. We get some new tool that requires assembly and it looks easy enough, so we may peruse the instructions, but we don't read them.
In most cases, we may get lucky, and the thing actually works, but there are those times when the thing is together and parts are left.
At such times, we either have to take the object back apart and start again, this time actually following the directions, or, as I sometimes do, we convince ourselves that the manufacturer threw in a few extra parts and throw them into our tool box for future use.
One of my biggest blunders along these lines was putting together a drop spreader. I glanced at the instructions giving them a cursory read, and launched into assembly, checking the instructions when I had a question.
As usual the manufacturer had included some spare parts, which I did not recognize as actually using during my assembly process.
Finishing the project, I loaded the spreader with weed and feed and set off across my lawn. The process was a nightmare. The stupid spreader would not work right; it wouldn't roll right without trying to, if not succeeding, in tipping over.
I was furious that the store sold me such a worthless piece of equipment. After dumping the load a third time, I was ready to take the thing back and give the store a piece of my mind which I am pretty sure I couldn't really spare.
I finished the project by hand using a small hand-held spreader I owned, and out of simple curiosity, decided to check the assembly instructions one more time before taking the piece back to the store. After all, there was that one little odd piece I had found at the end of the project.
It turns out that one little piece was a crucial spacer needed to keep the unit in proper alignment. Also, turns out that this particular model had a pressure fitting that was to go on after the spacer was in place.
To my chagrin, I soon learned that once in place the pressure fitting could not be removed without destroying the unit. Long story short, that spreader has never worked. I learned a valuable and costly lesson that day.
In life, The Cosmic Manufacturer has given us our instruction manual for life. We call it the Bible. If we pay attention to that manual and live according to it's instructions, we will find good. It tells us, "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Joshua 1:8 NIV84)
On the other hand, there are numerous warnings that those who think they can break God's Word inevitably find they themselves broken by it. Like my improperly assembled spreader, they find themselves not functioning properly and they can't determine why.
Worse, many in this sorrowful condition never seek the advice of life's instruction manual but rail against The Manufacturer. The Bible says, "A man ruins his chances by his own foolishness, then blames it on the Lord (Proverbs 19:3 TLB).
If you find yourself in a place where your life doesn't seem to be working, where things seem out of control and you find yourself off-balance rather than in balance, maybe it's time to stop trying to fix it yourself, and get back to following The Manufacturer's instructions.Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.