At the end of U.S. History, our teacher gave us a challenge worth 5 extra points on our next test. We had to be the first one to come to him with an answer to an obscure frontier history question (I can’t remember the question). Immediately as the bell rang, I made a b-line to the Library and its reference section – specifically the encyclopedias. I gladly arrived late to my next class, because I had made it to the U.S. History teacher with the right answer before any of my classmates had.
Today of course, everyone would just whip out their smartphones and snapchat the teacher a picture of the answer with a screenshot.
In woodworking, a reference surface is everything. In a modern shop, it is usually the bed of the jointer from which flat boards come. In a traditional shop, it’s the sole of the plane. This flatness is what everything gets referenced from. A reliable source of information that transmits throughout the entirety of the piece to be built. If the reference is flat – the piece will be accurate.
In our lives, we all measure ourselves compared to something. For some of us it’s our parents’ lives, for some it’s a childhood hero or even a friend we are always trying to best. The problem is that each of these will mislead us. While they may be good people – they aren’t perfectly true.
The life of Christ is the only sufficient reference for us. Every other comparison will lead us astray, even if it only starts as a small degree of error. The encyclopedias were references because they had been tried and found to be accurate. Christ has been tried by generations, and those who have used Him as a reference guide have made the most beauty with their lives.
The problem has been as G. K. Chesterton put it, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” Don’t let difficulty keep you from achieving something of true worth. Hold the life of Christ next to yours. Where are you a bit off…in need of truing up? Keep referring back to Him, and your life will turn out beautifully.
*Picture taken from Lie Nielsen’s website depicting their no.8 Jointer Plane: https://www.lie-nielsen.com/product/standard-bench-planes/no.-8-jointer-plane?node=4171