Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
guard her, for she is your life.

Proverbs 4:13

Instructions.  A man’s frenemy. 

Those instructions, or “destructions” as my mother-in-law refers to them, are so helpful but so frustrating.  I mean, who has time to read all those steps that are just so verbose?  I mean, how complicated can something be?

Whether the instructions are how to arrive at a location, put together an object, play a game, or utilize a tool, they often seem pretty obvious.  I mean, at most, all I need to do is take a glance at the pictures to see where I might be at the time, but from there, I can figure it out…right?

You see where I’m going.  The instruction this Proverb simplifies is to keep the instruction close.  I would argue that means to be familiar with it as well.  It isn’t implying to just hold or keep close the instructions, but  to know them and follow them.  The instructions get us to the goal! We ought to know this, but it’s just easier to do it on our own–at least that is what we think.

Keep Hold. Do Not Let Her Go.

I’m told that many people drop their cell phones in the toilet. The stats on google vary, but it seems nearly a million phones are dropped into them each year. When people drop those phones, I can just hear them ask in sadness, anger, embarrassment, and disappointment, “Why didn’t I just keep hold? Why did I let it go?” (Hold the Frozen reference, please.)

My bride created an amazing system to keep tabs on our children’s lego sets.  She cut out the boxes with the number set that it is and then put the instructions with the box piece in sheet protectors hidden in a three ring binder.  Great system!  I’ve begun to digitize all instructions I have whether by scanning, downloading or taking pictures (thank you, Evernote).

But what is our system to keep hold of Scripture, the ultimate instructions? It’s not like we can just hold our Bible in our hand with key verses bookmarked, knowing where every one is.  (I know what you’re thinking: “We can with cell phones.” Let’s just say yours fell in the toilet!)  The Psalmist’s declaration that he has hidden the Word in his heart (Ps. 119.11) is a practical application of this proverb.

Guard Her.  She is Your Life.

I’m someone who’s lost some pretty important data. I needed a backup. I depended on one location for where everything was and did not guard what I had.  Some would say that I lost everything on my hard drive, including $85,000 of education, 15 years of ministry (lessons, Bible studies, sermons, programs, camps, etc.). All those items were instructions I made up on how to do different things and how I put together various programs, messages, events, etc.  I even had unrecoverable pictures to all these instructions that will forever be gone.

That “tragedy” is a great reminder today that I’m not what I’ve done, but it is a lesson that I must guard and protect what it is that has instructed me and will going forward. Knowing where the instructions are is extremely important.  I believe that to be true in Scripture.

I’m reminded of the eighth grade teacher’s wall behind her desk that held a poster that read: “Smart people don’t always know the answer, but they know where to find it.”  I think Ms. May’s poster has quite a bit to apply to the concept of instructions for life.  Instructions are good and it is a good thing to know them.

They save: time from being wasted, arguments in board games (life), body parts from being cut off, objects from breaking, embarrassment, from that feeling of being lost, pride, relationships, and more.  And they give great peace, especially when they list who to call when you need help.


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