Starting with What is True
Where to start? Start with what is true. True is a carpentry term that means plumb, level, and square - ninety degrees on any given face. Are we square? If not, things can go off the rails fast. What is not square only becomes more crooked.
I had this problem when I set out to update the “saloon type” doors that were in our four bathrooms. Nothing screams 90’s like country oak with those tell-tale swoops on top of the door panels. It will make your doors and your house look cringy and dated. I had to replace them all.
The problem, how do you make perfectly symmetric doors, and hang them evenly? The first naive tendency is to fill the hole… and this is what I did. I tried to make doors to fit within the existing frame. I quickly found this to be the wrong approach. When you mount the doors and shave away to get an even reveal all round, you end up with doors that do not match. One will be shaved more than the other.
My epiphany was this: start with perfect doors and work from there. It’s a matter of priority. No one cares about the frame. Frames are expendible but doors are not. Make two doors and match them exactly. Same size, and square. Build the frame around that. Because nobody pays much attention to the frame, you can pinch or shave there freely. The doors they see hanging in the middle are the focal point.
The other thing, is to mount the hinges first rather than last. There is a logic to this. Hinges are finicky. You could ruin everything at the end with clumsy installation. So take the biggest challenge first and get it over with. That way your chance of mistakes are less. Once that is perfect, you can breathe more easily.
A clear sense of priority will make you wonder what took you so long to get it, and it is also that way with truth. Compare your beliefs now with what you thought when you were young. The two will not match. Unfortunately, arriving at the truth by accident or experiment can be a winding road of missed chances. Someone simply directing you to the truth is a much easier way to go.
It’s like this with the Gospel. Christianity is a revealed religion. It comes from hearing, and to be heard it must be spoken, to be spoken someone must speak it. And so, we await the good Word. Like the travellers on the road to Emmaus, when the Word is revealed, your heart will burn within you. Those who bring the truth are doing us a favour. No one should ever be shamed for spreading the truth.
A popular illusion in the world today, is that truth is subjective. This notion is ridiculous when applied to carpentry. What is true in carpentry can be easily verified with a level and a square. There are no opinions, or at least none that count. Accepting this basic fact dispels confusion.
Like Solomon noted, proper words at the right time are like golden apples on a silver tray. Words are sustenance. No wonder the Greeks refered to Jesus as the Logos. THE word. It means that he personally is the place of all truth. When we want guidance, we go to the source.
Where you start will determine where you end up. Start with what is true, and make everything else conform to that. It’s the opposite to how we often do Church, when we start with ourselves and try to make God fit. It may also be why Jesus – a carpenter, referred to himself as the corner stone, the one the builders rejected. He knew about square and plumb. The corner stone sets the building perfectly in place from the start. This way of proceeding will make your life easier. It will also keep you from hanging the doors in your life crooked and having to do them over again.