My dad is a builder - a brilliant builder I might add. He’s taken an old run-down acreage and farmhouse and transformed it into a slice of paradise. Over the years he’s completed many creative and challenging projects including a cedar-strip canoe, teardrop camper, and a cob oven.
He’s the one who taught me how to swing a hammer, read a tape measure, chalk a line, and use a screw gun. He informed me what it meant when things were “level," “flush," and “plumb.” My dad taught my siblings and I that people deserved eye-contact, firm handshakes, and genuine smiles. He instilled in us the value of keeping our word and finishing what we started. Bendickson’s are known for being “hard workers” and I am proud to have been raised by that kind of work ethic.
While I was still living at home, we went through a season of intense demolition and drastic remodeling on the acreage. In the construction years, there were tools aplenty. One of my favorites was the plumb line. It was kept safe in a leather pouch and I found it to be a peculiar tool. Once a shiny brass, its frequent handling had dulled it into a warm yellow.
I remember the day my brothers and I climbed to the top of the garage rafters we were installing to let down the plumb line - holding tightly onto the string. As the plump bob descended to the ground, the weight of the plummet pulled the string into “plump” - giving us a level line (on a vertical plane). The line was “plumb” or “true” and I found it fascinating.
I’ll never forget the day the Lord spoke to the very depth of my heart with a scripture that mentioned this same tool...
I was a new(er) Mother of Four and still trying to find my rhythm. The baby was 9-months old and I had been nursing him every 1 1/2 - 2 hours since the day we had brought him home from the hospital. I lived in a state of sleep-deprivation! On top of nursing the baby, I was also homeschooling my 6-year old, engaging my 4-year old, and keeping track of my 2-year old. My “world” consisted of changing diapers, doing laundry, wiping up spills, and teaching lessons on kindness, sharing, and good choices.
On the morning of January 9, 2017, I woke up to my alarm - somewhat frustrated. I was reading the Bible in a year and had just finished up Ezekiel and Revelation in my “Life Journal Reading Plan.” I was wanting something more than end-time prophecy and trippy-dreams and revelations. (There is just something about that timely word that is like “apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11) I was hungry for a scripture that would sustain me through the dense season of mothering I was in and was tempted to skip ahead to Ephesians or the Psalms to find it! However, I knew (and know) that all Scripture is God-breathed and that He could use wherever I was in my Bible Reading Plan to speak to my current sleep-deprived self.
I brewed myself a cup of strong coffee and buttered my cinnamon-raison toast. I made my way into the living room and turned on the lamp. Sitting down on the couch, I snuggled in with my blanket and opened my YouVersion Bible App to the day’s assigned reading: Zechariah 4, 5, 6 and Luke 12. I opened my Bible and didn’t have to read very far before the Lord started watering my thirsty, weary heart.
“So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6
The truth is, I can have all the right tools and the driving work ethic, but at the end of the day, I need the Spirit of the Almighty to sustain me. If anything I do is going to have any significance or value, then I need something (or someone) bigger and stronger than myself to breathe life into it and sustain it.
I continued reading and as I did, I felt my soul taking in gulps of fresh, cold water.
“Then the word of the Lord came to me. The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.” Zechariah 4:8,9
Zerubbabel started the work of the temple’s foundation. He was also the one to finish it. It was a promise…and a command!
As I read the very next verse, I just sat and wept as the Lord’s presence flooded my living room and my heart.
“Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Zechariah 4:10
That was it. That was all I needed. I had gotten only 10 verses into my reading and God had filled my heart up to overflow.
You see, when we are in the thick of life, marriage, and/or mothering, we sometimes forget to look up. We oftentimes neglect to look beyond the “here and now” and dream of what could be.
And on that cold, winter morning last year, I did just that. I can’t explain it to you other than I saw a movie reel of my life. On warp speed, I saw my childhood, moving to Europe and South America, meeting and marrying my husband, having the boys, moving to Clinton, planting River Church, and having two more babies. It slowed just enough for me to recognize myself in my pajamas and robe with tired eyes and messy hair. And then, the reel sped up once again and I saw glimpses of my future. I saw my children as successful, responsible, Godly adults who were serving in the ministry, getting married, and starting their own families.
And in that precise moment, every single “small thing” was worth it. Every diaper changed. Every knocked-over juice cup wiped up. Every tubby. Every bedtime book and singing of “Amazing Grace.” Every hug. Every kiss. Every prayer. Every form of praise, instruction, and correction.
It was all worth it. It all mattered.
This is an excerpt from my prayer journal from that morning:
Wow - this verse wrecked me! I am in the thick of “small things” - diligently laying foundations with the plumb line. There is greatness in my work and what I do matters!
[I went on to look up “despise” which Google defines as to “feel contempt or a deep repugnance (intense disgust) for.”]
I’ve always said how I love “humble beginnings.” It’s biblical! The yellow house when we were first married… “Poor man’s lunch”… The $75 Toyota… The transition to Clinton while living out at Jim dad’s acreage and staying in the Wood’s basement… Building the church with two toddler boys while pregnant…
I reminisce and my heart stirs.
And then my heart whispers, “You are still there!”
I am in “small things.” And I love it. I do not have an “intense disgust” for this stage. I do not feel contempt (feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn).
Thank you Jesus for gracing me for the days of “small things” and for allowing me to hold the plumb line and build a true and strong foundation.
Although I may not be a brilliant builder like my dad is; I do have an appreciation and understanding of why we need precise measurements, level foundations, and solid walls for any structure to stand the weight of time. I believe that my greatest gift to the Kingdom of God may not be what I do, but who I raise. And with that conviction, you’ll find me on the rafters - holding the plumb line.