Somewhere this holiday season some dads (and moms) have been driven to frustration with these words: “Some Assembly Required.” Bicycles, models, toys, whatever comes in parts, can test our patience, especially while junior stands at our elbow waiting for the finished product. Parts seem to be missing, or they won’t fit as they should, or they refuse to match the other pieces. At some point in this procedure, someone usually utters this advice, “When all else fails, follow the directions.”
Most of us have this inner determination to “do it myself,” without outside help, and without so much as a glance at the directions. It seems to be part of our humanness to wait until “all else fails” before we check to even see if there are instructions for our particular dilemma.
I recall a fishing trip, chartered in Alaska. The goal was halibut, the procedure totally unfamiliar. We were told to let out our line until we felt the one pound weight hit the bottom. Then we were to lift it 6 inches so the hook and bait did not rest on the ocean floor.
Not out of any particular wisdom, I did exactly what I was told.
The others on board were fishing “veterans.” They had better ideas. They did not follow those simple directions.
In less than two hours, the other five fishermen had one halibut between them, and an assortment of crab and other bottom feeding sea life. However, I had lost count of my catch.
God used that fishing experience to illustrate the importance of following directions. Life is full of challenges, from putting together parts, to greater riddles . . . and many times God gives clear instructions, or at least I know where to look for them. However, I tend to do it myself . . . until “all fails” and I am forced to check the directions.
Joshua, a leader of the Israelites in the Old Testament, was challenged to “follow the directions” too. He was commanded by God to conquer a formidable enemy. Joshua was terrified at the task, so God told him to “be of good courage.” Then He gave this advice: “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.”
In other words, “Don’t wait until you fail, read the directions, think about them, and follow them diligently, right from the beginning, then you will succeed.”
The boat captain knew about halibut fishing. I didn’t. It seemed sensible to listen to what he said.
The manufacturer of bikes and models and toys that come in pieces should know about their product. It seems sensible to follow their directions.
The “Manufacturer’s Manual,” the Word of God, has instruction for us, not so much to conquer nations but because all of us recognize that the greatest project of all, putting our lives together so that the parts fit and the whole thing operates as the Manufacturer intended, requires some assembly, some directions to follow.
Why wait until all else fails?