Activate your warranty

August 21st, 2017

My car, probably like yours, came with an owner’s manual, including a warranty on the first page. But frustratingly, the book does not answer a lot of obvious questions. Nor does the warranty cover everything. And it expired years ago anyway.

For my life, on the other hand, for the person I am, there is a manual that does have all the answers. The God who made me and owns me has spelled out complete “user instructions” in his written Word, the Bible.

There we find countless passages guaranteeing how the Maker will stand behind what he has made — in effect, a full unlimited warranty. No exclusions carved out. No mileage limit or end date when the deal is off.

Shepherd and Sheep

One such warranty document is the 23rd Psalm, famously beginning, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Most of us known it since childhood, perhaps even by heart. Its six brief verses may be almost too familiar. But when you take a fresh look at them, what depth and breadth are there.

Try reading it aloud and accenting each first-person pronoun: “I, me, my.” You’ll see how the warranty is uniquely individualized. You’re not just a statistic or a widget off an assembly line. Jesus the Good Shepherd knows you by name. He says so in John 10:3.

As for coverage, wow. Scribbling as fast as I could to list the psalm’s assurances of God watching over us at all times, I spotted over 30 of them in 30 seconds. You can probably find more yourself. Here’s my list:

Provision, protection, rest, refreshment, nourishment, healing, renewal, revival, guidance, restoration, companionship, fellowship, acceptance, affirmation, caring, anointing, blessing, celebration, joy, goodness, mercy, belonging, home, comfort, correction, support, identity, courage, life, shelter, security, warmth, abundance.

To whom does this unlimited warranty apply? Yourself and myself, for starters, no matter who we are.

In my case as a Christian Scientist for the first 40 years of my life, I knew Jesus only as a moral teacher and holy example. To me he wasn’t God the Son, my Savior, the Way, but simply the “way-shower.” Yet even then I was under warranty from him, though mostly unaware of it.

Far Astray

No one, I believe, is excluded from his warranty, as a biblical word study of sheep, shepherd, and the flock will show. But just as with a car, the warranty is of no use until activated. Insisting one is no part of the flock and in no need of rescuing, thank you, stymies everything.

For me it was first necessary to see past the “God’s perfect child” wishful identity pasted on me for so long, and confront my lost, sinful condition as a sheep far astray and mortally endangered. This I stubbornly resisted doing.

It took a crisis in my faith and in my marriage, recklessly self-induced, to bring about the breakthrough. The abject confession of Psalm 73:22, “So foolish was I, and ignorant; I was as a beast before thee,” said it all for me.

I was finally broken. The shepherd’s relentless dogs had cornered me at last, a story I’ve told elsewhere. (See “Jesus in Pursuit: The Hounding of a Haughty Heart,”, 2016)

Bottom line: Every human being is under the Maker’s divine warranty. Most of us have not fully activated our warranty, however, or have let it lapse. Some have never activated it at all. Whence comes the faith that leads to activation, I leave to the theologians to argue out.

ID Tag

This rescued sheep — sought out and saved under the “God math” whereby 1 is greater than 99 — can only sing my thanks for having been forced at last to activate the Psalm 23 guarantees.

Sheepmen, I was interested to learn, clip a conspicuous pink tag to the ear of each ewe, ram, and lamb so its identity and ownership can’t be doubted. I now keep one of these on my desk as a constant reminder of “whose” I am.

So get into that owner’s manual. Activate your warranty and keep it activated. Consult it daily. Invoke it for every need. And check the mirror often: tag still there?

Note: This post is adapted from my talk at the third national conference of the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists, held August 4-6 in St. Louis. Photo depicts some of the FFCS leadership. Further information is here.

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