About a year ago, my daughters and I sat down to play their beloved game, Monopoly. They love choosing their playing pieces, buying up houses and hotels, rounding the board, gathering up more and more money. This is not my favorite game. Maybe it’s because it takes hours to complete. Maybe it’s the set up. Maybe it’s the clean up. Whatever the reason, I tend to groan when they choose Monopoly. Which is why it’s only played once a year in our house, on average.
My youngest daughter set up the board on the table. My oldest daughter finished making popcorn…after all, we would need sustenance to endure this marathon game. I pulled out my chair to get settled in where I would remain until my muscles stiffened and my hair turned gray.
“Here are the game pieces. Which one do you want to be, mom?” Abby asks with all enthusiasm. “You can choose first!”
Oh, choosing the first game piece makes the game more tolerable, I mumble to myself. Let’s see, will I be the metal hat, the iron, or the shoe? The battleship seems to be appropriate for how I am feeling.
“Okay, now for the money…how much money do we need to start the game? It’s been so long since we’ve played, that I don’t remember. Mom never wants to play this game.”
“Yeah, yeah it’s not my favorite. Hmm…I don’t remember how much money. Better get out the instructions,” I suggest.
Mikayla deposits the popcorn bowl on the table and begins to look through the box for the instructions. A minute later, she replies, “I don’t see them, but I think I remember how much we should get.”
She distributes a random amount to each of us and we begin playing. We continue on for what feels like hours, but is probably more like 15 minutes in reality. Abby ends up in Monopoly jail.
“But, how do I get out of jail?” she whimpers.
“I don’t know. I don’t remember.”
This same answer comes out of my mouth when one girl asks how they buy a house on their property. And, then again, when they ask how they buy a hotel. And, then again when they ask what they should do if they don’t have enough money to pay their debt.
“I don’t know.” “I don’t know.” “I don’t know.”
Finally, tiring of hearing my repetitive response, Mikayla blurts out, “We need the instructions!”
Without the guidance, rules and trouble shooting spelled out in the instructions, games can be challenging, and just about impossible.
2 Timothy 3:14 in the Message states, But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.
Scripture is given to inspire. It is profitable, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. It’s given so that the follower of Jesus will be ready for every good work! Whether you believe it or not, God has tasks for each of us. But, in order to do those tasks, we need to follow the direction manual.
I spent the first half of my life floundering. Being lead different ways, searching for what was right. I based my beliefs on the what the humans around me believed. Or, what “felt” right to me at the moment. Jeremiah 17 verse 9 describes the problem with the heart: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
The problem came when my heart deceived me time and time again.
I followed my heart and it left me empty. I followed my heart and ended up hurting someone in exchange. I followed my heart and sunk deeper into a pit.
Nowhere in my life has my need for the Instructional Manual been more true than with being a wife and mother. I had years and years spent studying books on marriage and parenting. Googling the most recent problem we were facing. Searching the internet for answers. Asking anyone for help.
After a while my mind was so confused and jumbled from all my various searching that I really became worse off then when I first began my search. One parenting book suggested giving three chances. Another suggested the opposite. One website advocated for spanking. One for time out. I was completely powerless because I was pulled in various directions.
It wasn’t until I discovered the treasure in God’s word that I began to read His word and be transformed in my heart and mind. I find the Word to be my instructional manual for every situation I may find myself in.
Once God’s love for me and my family began to sink in, and the Holy Spirit revealed the Truth to me, I could see God’s Word as being another example of how He hasn’t left me alone, hasn’t forsaken me, doesn’t expect me to do this life without Him.
I study the scripture to receive wisdom. I read examples of God’s people facing trouble, being led by the Lord. I memorize His word so it can penetrate into my heart. I seek time to spend in God’s Word. I receive strength through scripture. I gain answers from the Lord. I learn of promises from my Heavenly Father.
Jeremiah 17: 7-8, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
People are looking to leaders of our country to show them how to live. I am not looking to the president to show me how to live. The political leaders do not hold the wisdom or instruction I seek. Jesus is my example. He’s the author of my instructional manual. Who are you looking to?