God’s instructions important to read, understand

Curtis K. Shelburne

I just bought a new weed-eater. The old one was sputtering along just fine in excellent two-cycle engine form, but two of my sons have just moved into a different house and needed weed-whacking equipment. In a gesture of paternal magnanimity, I donated the old weed-destroyer to the cause. I didn’t tell them that it will likely out-value anything else left in the estate for them when I’ve departed. But they seemed appreciative.

Anyway, I ceremonially handed over the old weed-eater and straightway departed (in a less final sense) to procure a new one. The shopping trip was like all my shopping trips. I wasted gas going to four stores to save money and ended up back at the first store lined up to pay twice as much as I thought the item would cost. Oh, well.

When I got my shiny new weed-whacker home, I was tempted to fire it up just to check out the brand new thimble-sized engine, but it was midnight. And I’d given my (mixed) gas can away, too, and couldn’t buy a new one and get the petrol cocktail mixed up (shaken, not stirred) until Monday. That gave me time to sit the new machine in the living room floor for the weekend and actually look through the instructions.

Once I’d trimmed the two manuals down to the King’s English only, I was left with eighty-four pages of weed-eater literature. Actually, only twenty-six pages of that counted as “instructions.” The lion’s share was the “safety manual.” This is evidently a vicious machine.

Of course, there was very little plot to the two-volume novel. Most of the pages were covered with lawyer droppings. Safety booklets will soon come, no doubt, attached to every nail you buy at your local hardware store. It’s a wonder restaurants don’t include such manuals with their toothpicks.

But I read and learned . . .

The muffler is hot. Good.

The State of California (which knows so much more than other states, except how to balance budgets) knows that sucking in weed-eater exhaust can cause birth defects.

This thing could amputate my fingers. I’d have to be pretty determined to be fingerless, but it could happen.

It’s a bad idea to run it indoors, to use it to shorten power lines, or to operate it when drunk.

And so on.

I’m not finished reading yet, partly because reading these manuals, I’m warned, is not enough. I must “read and understand” all of these warnings. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to check off that last part.

The Maker of this world was kind enough to include a manual that we really should read and, yes, do our best to understand. He wrote it not to keep Heaven out of court, but to keep us out of trouble. But by far the main reason he wrote it was to point us not to the law but to the Savior.