Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Recommended Instructions

If you look to the left, you'll notice the red sweater I'm wearing has a white collar (and cuffs). It's one of my favorites, since I like the way it fits and I love the color red. Unfortunately, I've spent several hours over the last two days trying to make it look like it does here. The reason? I followed the washing instructions.

At the very top, the tag read, and I quote, "Hand wash cold. Do not bleach. Lay flat to dry." I did just as it said: cold water, no bleach and the top of the dryer to finish the job. Honestly, I was suspicious. It is red and white. But I thought the manufacturers knew their own product well enough for me to trust their instructions.

Clearly not. The collar and cuffs, following this meticulous effort at accuracy, were pink when the drying was done. So, I've been carefully dipping the discolored portions into (wouldn't you know it) hot water and bleach! I'm still waiting for the final results, but it's looking good so far.

I think what really gets me is that as I was working on it yesterday afternoon, I looked again at the label and read to the end of it, where it says, "Dry cleaning recommended." Now you tell me.

Why did they put the recommended care instructions at the end of the label? Shouldn't they have started with that? Good recipes don't start by telling you to bake the cake and then list the ingredients for it.

Unfortunately, we sometimes treat our loved ones and our relationship with God in the same way. We know what priority they should place in our lives, and we know what blesses them and makes them feel loved, but too often, we put them at the end. Yet, the best results always come when we follow Jesus' example for managing the time we have on this earth. He knew to first get alone with God before he tried anything else (Mark 1:35 ). And he knew that people, not things or even tasks for people, were what really mattered (Luke 10:38-42).

God, you've given me such simple, recommended instructions for living life. Help me to actually use them, focusing on who is important, rather than what I think is urgent.

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