I first learned about measuring when my dad and I were building a house. He was a carpenter. We needed fire blocking between studs in the walls before the sheet rock went on. My job was to cut 16-inch 2×4 fire blocks my dad would nail into place. Instead of measuring every block with a tape measure, my dad cut a ‘pattern block’ for me to use, exactly 16 inches long. He marked it, “Pattern.” He left me to mark and cut blocks while he busied himself with other things. He said he’d nail the blocks in after I got them all cut.
I marked the first block with the pattern my dad left for me. I used the block I had just cut as the pattern for the second block. It was handy. It was there. And, of course, it was the same length as the pattern. I used the second block to measure and cut the third block. The third block to measure and cut the fourth until I had cut an entire stack of blocks for my dad to nail into place. Somewhere in that stack was the original pattern my dad had given me. But after that first cut, that pattern wasn’t critical or even necessary for me to do my job.
At least that’s what I thought, until … well, until my dad came back, took my stack of fire blocks and began to nail them between the studs. Studs that were exactly sixteen inches on center. The first two or three blocks I had cut fit okay. A little snug, perhaps, but he made them work. But by the time he got to number five or six or seven, said,“These blocks are too long” “Did you use the pattern I gave you?”
I told him I used it for the first one, but after that, I just used the block I just cut as a pattern for the next block. The pencil line on a 2×4 may not seem like a very wide line; perhaps a 32nd of an inch? But if you cut 32 blocks, adding a 32nd of an inch on each successive block, the last block will be an inch longer than the first block.
If anyone knows what it’s like to be a carpenter‘s son … Jesus knows. If anyone knows about measuring success in life? Jesus knows. He is the only perfect pattern, the line by which all other lines are measured. Our example; our pattern. Our only hope. If you’re wondering about whether you really measure up when you set your life alongside other people? Be encouraged. It may look like others are more successful, or better looking, or even more spiritual than you. But Jesus has promised to live His life through us. He alone has drawn that one unique line that defines the length and breadth and purpose for our lives.
Phil. 2:5 the Amplified Bible, “Let Him be your example in humility.” May that be so for you today.