May 6, 2020 - Instructions
When I woke up this morning I could not help but think about how difficult it is for some people to follow instructions, even if it is a matter of life and death. Health experts have suggested that during this period of coronavirus we wear masks, practice social distancing, stay home, wash our hands regularly, etc. Yet, on a daily basis you can observe many people not adhering to the instructions given us, even our national leaders fail to comply.
If you have children, I am sure all of us can recall an occasion when we instructed our children to do something and they did the opposite. In doing so they caused unnecessary stress. We can also recall the consequences for not following instructions from parents.
Proverbs 4:13 says, "Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her, for she is thy life." It sounds like failure to adhere to instructions can be a matter of life and death in some instances.
I wonder why it is so difficult for us to adhere to and follow directions. As an adult, I can remember purchasing a large swing set for my daughters. I opened the box and one of the first things to fall out were the instructions on how to put it together. At the top of the paper it read, "Follow Instructions Carefully." I began putting the swing set together, but not by reading the instructions. I decided that looking at the picture would be simpler than reading the instructions. What a mistake. I was 90% done with putting the set together when I realized there were several short screws left for the completion of the project, but I needed long screws. Because I did not follow instructions, I had to disassemble the swing which took a half day to erect. Yes, you guessed right, I had to start the assembly all over again. By reading the instructions the task became much easier.
As we refer to the Old Testament prophets in the Bible we see many instances where God's people failed to follow instructions. God gave specific instructions on how to be a faithful people, but they did their own things. We even see in last week's Bible Study (Ezekiel) that God instructed the people of Israel not to ask Egypt for help, but they did so any way causing them to end up in further exile. The prophets throughout the Old Testament give constant instructions from God to the people of Israel, but they refuse and cause God to become angry. One being the message that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, "They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction." Jeremiah 32:33
It is said that Leonardo DaVinci was commissioned to do the painting of "The Last Supper" scene on a special type of plaster that makes the oil paint dry quickly. But because he wanted to take his time, he invented a new type of plaster that would not dry as quickly. Unfortunately, the plaster he created repelled the paint and the mural began to peel over time and continues to do so. DaVinci failed to follow instructions and the end result is deterioration of the painting.
The Bible is filled with scriptures that instruct us on how to live, but we are no different than the Israelites who were hard headed, hard hearted and a disobedient people. One of the lessons we learn from disobedience is that there are consequences.
In an attempt to keep all of us safe from harm's way during covid-19, may we continue to follow instructions we have received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just as a reminder, see below:
Wash your hands often
Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even at home. Maintain a six feet distance at all times.
Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or some type of covering when around others
Cover coughs and sneezes
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
A word to the wise is to please continue to stay safe and follow instructions.
Not a sermon, just a thought!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor