Recently, I ordered a new bookshelf online. I am a bibliophile and a storage nut, so the thought of having an expandable shelf for my books and knickknacks was thrilling, to say the least! However, when our package arrived, we were sorely disappointed to find that one important element was missing: The manufacturer’s instructions on how to assemble our new bookcase were nowhere to be found.

My husband is very handy, so we thought maybe we could figure it out on our own. We took all the components of our shelf unit out of the box, spread them out, and tried to determine what went where. We were able to guess at the configuration of the unit, based on the pictures on the box and online. However, certain parts had us baffled. What were they for? Did we really want to assemble this thing based on how we thought it should go together—possibly risking messing it all up and being completely dissatisfied?

“No, we’d better not,” I said. So I Googled the name of the company to get their contact information. Then I emailed and called them, explaining the situation. A customer service rep agreed to send me a PDF of the instructions.

It’s a good thing we did that! When we received the directions, we realized we had guessed completely wrong on at least two of the mystery components. By assembling the unit according to what we thought was the right way, we would have made parts of it weak and ineffective. We might even have caused irreparable damage and ended up tossing it into the dumpster in frustration!

I realized life can be like that, too. When we try to live according to what we think is right, we can really mess up big time! Certain parts of our world and our bodies seem to be made for one thing; when, actually, they were intended for something a little or a lot different. We can either stick with what we think we ought to do, or consult our Designer and Manufacturer, God.

Although magnificently designed and pre-assembled at birth, human beings are complex creatures that require special use and care. The Bible is a lot like an owner’s manual, or the Manufacturer’s instruction book, for how to use and care for our bodies, souls, spirits and other creatures and things around us. When we do things our way—ignoring the instructions God gave us—we can hurt ourselves and others. We can cause damage to our families, our society and our environment.

As you can see in the After Eden cartoon, “Independent Thinking,” by Dan Lietha at, there are a lot of people who claim to know what we’re all about. Especially on university campuses and other secular institutions, we find plenty of so-called “experts,” who try to tell us how human beings are put together and how they are supposed to live. Some of them have made some decent educated guesses, while others are way off. But none of them is 100% right. As we can see by the mess this world is in, sometimes being just a little off can make a big difference in how people and things function. A “little mistake” can make a huge difference between someone living “happily ever after” or being downright miserable. It can even mean the difference between life and death!

So don’t rely on yourself and others to tell you how to live. The Bible, our user’s manual, is filled with all you need to know. God made you, so He knows how you were meant to function. Don’t wind up with a life you are less than satisfied with, simply because you were too lazy or too stubborn to consult the Manufacturer’s instructions!

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