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Simple Times

Out of Square
by Suzy McCray


My blue-jeaned knees are a combination Alabama-grass green and Blount-County-mud brown.
Bending over so much was tiresome so I’d simply “stand” on my knees every time he stretched the tape again.
I don’t understand it. Somehow my mind just doesn’t comprehend it. I know I’m not stupid. But even though it’s been explained to me in simple terms repeatedly, it just doesn’t make sense to me. I know all opposite sides must be equal. I know then you measure catty-cornered and those numbers must match as well. But when you begin moving those tiny nails and the strings to get that building perfectly in square, my mind’s comprehension goes berserk.
I’ve never been good at math. I squeaked through my one required math class in college literally by the skin of my teeth. So, I don’t know if this is a holdover from my math illiteracy or not, but no matter how much I’ve tried through the years, I just DON’T GET IT!
My daddy explained it to me simply years ago. Even my now-grown son has explained it to me.
Each time I think “I finally got it!” and as soon as we finish what we are doing, it just oozes from my brain.
So as my husband Mack begins building the 40-by-30 barn in the freshly fenced pasture, I am the other-end-of-the-tape-holder. (Mack just explained to me that this is referred to in construction terms as “holding the dumb end.”)
Anybody who has ever visited our little homestead knows that none of my animal buildings and sheds are square.
I would always draw off a square or a rectangle on a piece of paper (or simply with a stick on the ground), dig post holes for the corner 4-by-4 posts and then begin to frame in the little building. Nothing was ever properly “squared” and each little building, with its ragtag tin roof, was so sturdy they have withstood windstorms that violently destroyed my son’s big, above-ground swimming pool next door and did other damage on this farm.
The little sheds and buildings stood. Some for more than three decades.
And the goats, chickens, rabbits, ducks and other assorted farming beasts didn’t care one bit if they didn’t look quite the prettiest. They kept them out of the rain and wind and provided warm shelter in the winter and a somewhat cool respite in the Alabama summer heat.
Now they will all be housed in a neat, perfectly squared red barn with a tin roof and this construction squaring has got this old mind thinking.
My little unsquared buildings and sheds have never really bothered me. They served their purpose and they were the best I could do at the time (many built almost completely out of recycled materials) so I built what was needed and then went on to other things.
But Mack is much more meticulous. And having the building squared is important to him not only to make the construction of the rest of the building easier but just because he would KNOW if it’s even a couple of inches out of square.
So while I rested on those stained knees and he made adjustments on the strings and boards, my mind began to think of other things.
In the New Testament, we are told to conduct our church services in orderly manners.
But there are numerous instances in the Bible where God appears to place a major emphasis on the size and shape of things.
We’re reading the Bible through in 2019, and we read two or three chapters in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament every night.
In the Old Testament, there are numerous passages of how the house of God was to be built with each segment detailed with certain measurements. Even when Noah built the ark, God detailed exactly how long and wide it was to be.
Then in the New Testament prophecy of Revelation 21:16, it talks about the city being laid out in a perfect square, “with its length as great as its width.”
But in Revelation 11:1, it tells how John was given a “measuring rod” and told to measure not only the temple but THOSE who were worshiping there!
So how are we as individuals measured?
In height, I would be 5-foot-4 and Mack would be 5-foot-10.5.
But God has shown us that physical traits don’t matter! Samuel went to visit Jesse to anoint Israel’s future king. Everybody had been impressed by Saul because he was tall and handsome. So as Samuel looked at each of Jesse’s sons, he was looking for the same outward physical traits. But none of the young men were whom God wanted. Only when the youngest, a ruddy shepherd boy, was called did Samuel realize who God had chosen.
I think a lot now about age as I’m creeping older. But I realize that just as God didn’t want the most handsome man in that instance, He is still looking at the heart of all of us, just like he did David, to see if we measure up.
In the Bible, God used very young folks and then those who were old. He used rich or poor, fat or skinny, skilled or unskilled, educated or unlearned in worldly things.
If John or whoever needs to “measure the church” (as in Revelation) (and WE are the church), then it’s NOT going to be how tall we stand, how “square” our shoulders are, what rhetoric we’ve spouted from a pulpit or even in our private conversations, what finery we wear on Sunday mornings or how our hair was styled.
God looks at our hearts. If our hearts are right, then everything else will fall in place.
We finally got that barn squared using Mack’s long yellow metal tape measure.
I only must read more Scripture to see it’s not that complicated to make sure I “measure up.”
In Isaiah 28:17, God says He will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line.
I can simply use God’s Word, and not a long metal yellow tape, as my “plumb line” to measure my life by God’s standards!

Suzy McCray and her husband Mack are blessed to live on a small homestead in Blount County. She can be reached through her Facebook page or by email at
suzy.mccray@yahoo.com.

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