When All Else Fails…Read the Directions

  • Pete Johnson
Warning directions

I must confess that there have been a few times in my life that I have attempted to assemble an item, fix something, or make something without following the directions. At first glance, it seems to be easy enough. I can see the picture of the completed item that is on the box, how hard could it be? It’s not “rocket science”! However, I often find that something just doesn’t line up correctly and I forcibly put it in its place, or after I have put it together it swings backward when it is supposed to swing forward; or I have several bolts and screws left over.

I have also experienced some anguish, anxiety, frustration, and have messed the project up to where I had to get someone to help or had to altogether get another one.

Common tragedies related to attempting to do things without reading the directions can vary from breaking things unintentionally and intentionally. Using the wrong tool, like an ice pick instead of a screwdriver, thus causing injury, kicking things, and throwing things. All this and not to mention the unwarranted frustration, and anger that can be transmitted to those around you.

There also seems to be the physiological pattern that goes along with putting something together without reading the directions.

  1. A false sense of security: “Shouldn’t be a problem, I can do this.”
  2. Shock and disbelief: “I can’t believe this is such a problem!”
  3. Rationalizing: “ This is just something that happens to everyone, I can figure this out”
  4. Anger: “URRGH” (and whatever other ways Anger comes out.)
  5. Failure: “I give up, let someone else do it”

In life, much like assembling furniture and things that require directions, Christians tend to attempt to assemble their lives without reading and following directions. But unlike the outcome with a broken piece of wood on a chair or bookcase, which you can go buy a replacement part for, in real life, lives are broken, relationships are shattered, families are emotionally and physically damaged, and never fit back together the same, ever again.

As Christians, why do we have angst against others? Why do we have marital problems? Why do we have relationship problems? Why do we have family problems? Why do we have Spiritual problems?

James 4:1-3 gives us the cause of our problem:

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

When we attempt to live our lives the way we see fit, we are deciding not to follow God’s directions. We are saying “I know better than the designer”. When that happens our lives become full of turmoil. We become dissatisfied, angry, and bitter; even worse, distanced from God, and angry toward anyone who points that out to us.

Vs 7-10 gives us the remedy for our problem:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:7-10)

So before it all fails… read and follow God’s instructions!