In the past few days, God has brought me back to my childhood by reminding me about the tools that the builders used to erect structures whether for life or for death. Morbid as it may sound, the measurements for a coffin had to be no less accurate than that for a house so the builder employed these three tools extensively in his craft: the plumb line, the level, and the square. It seemed as if they were worth more than gold to carpenters and masons who lived in the small community where I grew up in Jamaica. I learned later that they were very expensive and without them, a builder was unable to do his work well.
My father was not a carpenter, although he was always building something. How can I ever forget the bright chalk line on the cords that he and other carpenters used on the plumb and the mercury that settled in the middle of a level that he kept out of the reach of my siblings and me when it was not in use? He would always talk about the importance of “correctness” each time he used a measuring tool. “If you don’t use the level, it’s going to be off”, he would say to us. Our family always had this inside joke about a mason in our district who built a leaning house because his measurements were off and so I am always particular about symmetry.
I have little or no knowledge of carpentry and I’m not mathematically inclined as my husband. However, I have lived long enough to know that everything must be exact and correct in constructing a building. The builder cannot fight gravity, his tools are what he uses to erect the most majestic Taj Mahal to the humblest cottage that will stand up to the forces of nature and the wear and tear of human activities. In the same way that the builder allows his tools to harness gravity, we must engage the word of God to stand in the face of temptation, trials, and tribulation. When Job heard one terrible news after another, there was nothing he could do but to hold on to his faith in God. He reminded himself about the surety of God although he was surrounded by friends who tried to make him lose hope because he knew something that we must also know: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, KJV).
If you have the chance to watch a carpenter, you will notice that as soon as the plumb that he holds in his hands find a vertical line, it becomes taut and the object at the end of it stops moving. Likewise, the liquid in the middle of a level settles in the same way when used to check for the alignment of lines and the square checks that when the plumbed object intersects with the level object they create a 90-degree angle. That is what Christians must do in challenging situations, stop moving and intersect with God:
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13, KJV).
Make your yourself against sin like the vertically straight line of a plumb line: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). A plumb line does not fight gravity so do not fight the devil. God will fight for you. Do what the writer tells us in Proverbs 3:5 NIV:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.