Posted: August 4, 2020 by Erica Sandeno
I saw a quote that said “There is no manual for life. We all muddle on and hope for the best. So always follow your heart. It is your best guide.” I won’t cite the person who stated this, but when I read it I thought what terrible, untrue advice. However, I do feel like much of the world operates from a place of this belief. This disregard for God as the Creator and Ruler of all of creation is very evident in 2020.
I want to start by debunking this idea and pointing out, there absolutely is a manual for life, the Bible. It is actual written words, inspired by God, to help guide us in every area of life. There is literally nothing He left out, parenting, marriage, sin, forgiveness, grace, sex, family, money, giving, humility, pride, self-control…..I could go on but if you haven’t already, you should read it for yourself. It is, by definition, literally, a manual for life.
Now to address the second falsehood, “muddle through, hope for the best, and trust your heart because it is your best guide?” That is the opposite of what the Gospel stands for. Jesus died to give us forgiveness, hope, and eternal life. We don’t have to hope and guess. Our salvation is secure in Him. The Bible clearly states in Acts 1:5 and John 14:16 that Jesus died and left the Holy Spirit within us to lead, comfort and guide us. We don’t have to “muddle” through on our own and thank goodness we don’t have to rely on our weary heart to be our guide.
My husband and my best friend both set out to read the entire bible through in a year. I didn’t want to be left out, so I jumped on the bible reading bandwagon with them. In the past, I have attempted to read through the bible, starting in Genesis, several times and I always get stuck and fizzle out somewhere near Numbers or Deuteronomy. I have read most books of the bible at some point, just not in a succinct, chronological order. Now, I’m happy to say I am currently ⅓ of the way through the bible, and loving my time reading.
The difference this time is I’m using a good reading plan called The Bible Recap. There’s also a podcast to go with the reading where the host explains what you read for the day. This has been extremely helpful because, we can all agree the old testament can be very confusing. What I like the most about this podcast host is, at the end of each podcast she says, “Where is your God shot today?” She is asking where do you see God’s character in this scripture? This has been monumental in growing my relationship with God. I’m not just reading the bible as a story, I’m reading as a way to spend time with God, to know who He is, and how He works. And I’m applying what I read as a manual for life. This type of connection has bent my heart in the best way possible.
I find myself excited to wake up every morning to read and see what happens next and find out why God did what He did in the stories I have grown up hearing. When I first started, I really needed the host to point things out for me. I needed her to explain why God would or would not accept certain behaviors or attitudes. But now I’ve found myself seeing it for myself as I read. It made me so happy, true joy, the other day when I realized the reason I could understand this on my own was because my relationship with God was growing and getting stronger.
I usually wake up early, before the kids, and sit quietly in my front room to read and pray. One morning as I was getting settled in with a hot cup of fresh coffee, I paused. I had a vision and I had this warmth, comfort, peace, and joy about me. I realized it came because I knew I was about to enter into a space with God.
My vision was of me, in the ocean. I pictured my life in the past, and I was sitting in a small boat on the big beautiful ocean. The bible would represent the ocean. If I just sat quietly and watched and waited, I would see things in the water. Maybe a school of fish would swim by, a dolphin would jump, or maybe even the dorsal fin of a shark. What wonders lie beneath would catch my attention. I would then drop a fishing pole in the water and pull out an amazing looking fish. Maybe a bluefin tuna, or a marlin. It would remind me of the many times I would open my bible to a specific verse or story to study or find comfort, or direction.
Now, as I sit in the stillness or the early morning, I know WHO God is not just what He has done. I feel that I am scuba diving now, under the water and I can see everything in its entirety. I see everything working and living together to create one big community, one big story and it makes me love God even more. He created me with intention and He wants to know me. I am moved by such a truth. My favorite part about this vision was that when I was below the water, looking at all of the beautiful things that were living below the surface, it was silent. When you are underwater or scuba diving you cannot hear the sounds above the surface.
God Is In Control
I don’t know about you but I am exhausted by the noise and opinions of everyone in 2020. You don’t have to go far to be inundated with information. Between social media, the news stations and just the neighbor down the street, there is no shortage of opinions, theories, suggestions, and negative comments. I had a moment in early June where I just took all social media off my phone. I was completely overwhelmed by conflicting opinions, angry self-righteous people, people speaking and reacting out of fear. It felt as if everyone had their own idea of what was right and what the world needed.
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6
This verse accurately describes our society today. I felt God leading me to shut it all out. He was calling me in. I needed to stop looking and listening to the world for answers and go straight to the only one who truly had any answers worth hearing, God himself in His manual for life.
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
This verse gives me so much comfort as the world continues to spin out of control. God has always been in control and He’s inviting me into His peaceful and quiet presence where I can see His beauty and hear His voice and nothing else. And that’s where I want to be.