Packing stuff for my young children while they were in primary school was quite a task for me. I would normally stuff into their lunch boxes some snacks and their afternoon meal. But I soon discovered that they always brought back the lunch without eating it. While this made me angry, I wondered why they did not eat their meals. It didn’t take me a long time to discover that the lunch was usually cold by lunch time. I shared this challenge with a colleague at work and she introduced a food flask to me that according to her, would last for 24 hours. Just what I was looking for. So in my excitement, I ordered for three pieces.
I announced to my kids that no longer will they have to eat cold meals again. Of course, they were excited and looked forward to using their new food flasks. So on this day, I packed their favourite meal in the new food flasks but by the end of school that day, they returned again without eating. The food was even colder than it used to be. In anger I called the supplier and expressed disappointment at him for selling fake food flasks and vehemently requested for the refund of my money. I was going to return the food flasks to him.
He listened patiently to my ranting and when I was done, asked me if I read the instruction on the user manual attached to the product. Of course I didn’t read the instructions. Who needs an instruction or manual to use a simple product like a food flask? At that point, he explained that on first use, the food flask was to be filled with boiling water to activate it. The water was to be left in the flask for about 30 minutes after which I could commence using it. I didn’t do that, hence the food flask could not function as designed by the manufacturer. I went back to the pack and just by the side, boldly written in red was a label that said “read carefully before use”.
I felt so ashamed that with all my education, I had behaved most ignorantly. I apologised to the vendor for my outbursts. From that day I learnt the importance of instructions and I never joked with reading them before using any newly purchased product or appliance. Today, I read every instructions no matter how seemingly unimportant the product may be. I read instructions or labels on bottled water, detergent, bathing soap, body lotion, moisturiser, hair cream, drugs, food seasonings etc. I realised that many of us may not use some of the products we use today if we are careful enough to read the instructions on them. Imagine the label on the pack of cigarettes says “smokers are liable to die young” and yet people still go ahead to buy.
Instructions are the most important guide to success in life. No one can go far in life without being instructed or guided. Whether in business, career, politics or in academics, success comes as a result of proper guidance. I came across these words “Hold on to instructions, do not let it go: for it is your life” (Proverbs 4:13 NIV). How amazing that God the Creator equates instruction with life.
The best way to understand the word instruction is simply by looking at its synonyms or similar words. These include words like direction, prescriptions, guide, recipe, specification, handbook, manual, information, law, discipline, education etc. In summary instruction refers to detailed information about how something is to be done, used or processed. It is the manufacturer’s manual, the doctor’s prescription, the google map, the organisation’s policies and procedures, the school rules and regulations, a nation’s constitution and many others.
No man can go far in life without being instructed. It therefore means that your success in life is tied to the value you place on the instructions you receive, apply and respond to. The cost of ignoring instructions is high. Look at it this way, if God equates instructions with life, the opposite will be that a man who fails to heed to instructions will ultimately loose his life. To joke with instructions is therefore to joke with one’s life.
Every product no matter the size has attached to it a manufacturer’s manual or instructions. Unfortunately few people take the pain to read and understand before using these products. It is crucial that when we purchase a new product we take time to study the manufacturer’s manual to ensure that the direction of usage is followed, dosage (if it is a drug) is used, expiry date (all products have expiry date including water) is recognised etc.
What interest me in all of these is when I consider the “man-maker”, the One who created the intricate product called man, I observed that from the very beginning He had a manual but the same way we ignore the human manufacturer’s manual, we also ignore His own manual for the peaceful existence of man. When His instructions are ignored, abuse of the ‘man’ product is the result because as declared by Myles Munroe “when purpose (of a thing) is not known abuse is inevitable”
Ignorance of God’s instructions does not excuse man from the consequences of not adhering to them. Remember the story of my food flasks. I had thought it was just a food flask and I didn’t need to be instructed on its use. That I ignored the user manual, did not mean it was not provided for. So I had to suffer the consequences.
Life has manual and God’s manual for the life of man is found in His word, the Bible. The whole of the bible is 75% instructions from God for anyone who cares to read, apply and respond to them. For “all Scripture is God-breathed (given by divine inspiration) and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately- behaving honourably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God (you) may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Three of the four purposes of the scripture (Instruction, correction and training) has to do with guiding and instructing man to become whom he was created to be.
Our lives are much too precious to live or be treated as a common product. Its time to place more value on our lives by returning to the manufacturer’s manual. He alone has the specifications, directions on how best to live life to its fullness. He also has the expiry date of our lives. That we ignore it now does not cancel its existence.
Let me conclude with this amazing quote “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. .. My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them and health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4: 13, 20-23 KJV). Folks there is no better time to return to the manual for our lives, read it, respond to it by applying it to our daily lives so that we can live life to its fullest.
Adenike Babajamu (July 2020)