“Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52
I grew up in a split Christian home; a mother who was a believer, a father who was not. This presented various challenges in God’s perfectly planned out way, and still does to this day. My family tree is in a state of flux; my mom was the trailblazer, the pioneering woman who turned the tide for generations to come. Mine is the first Christian family. I’ve been blessed with a godly husband, and we both know our calling toward the Biblical family model. What I can get hung up on is the lack of a reference point.
In college, I was a Landscape Architecture major. Random. I know. Probably for nothing else than that’s where I met my husband. Anyhow, at one point I had to take a surveying class. Can you imagine that? Me, in my pink heels with a helmet on and one of those weird machines you see them using on the side of the road, taking measurements to see where we were at in relation to the level of the sea. Not really my cup o’ tea. Have you ever noticed in the sidewalk at times there will be like a little metal disc embedded in the concrete? Kinda looks like this:
That’s a survey marker; also called a benchmark (ahh, now you know where that term comes from!) A benchmark is a point of known elevation. These markers are extremely helpful in things like navigation, surveying, and construction. They give you a reference point as to where you are in space so that you can measure everything else around you by them. In the sinful, human state, we look to each other as our benchmarks, good and bad. If you’re a celebrity, you’re automatically considered a “role model.” Like it or not, being in any type of limelight lends itself to little (and big) impressionable imitators. We emulate the characters, “real” and fictional, that we see on TV. We follow fashion trends from people around us. We make life decisions to Keep up with the Kardash….er, Barnes….er, Joneses. Scary.
It would be easy for Casey and I to just get stuck in no-man’s-land, with no reference point, no benchmark, and settle on down for a happy little life. Drop our anchors of complacency and just kinda float there. But we know that the more sanctification that happens in our little family, the more obedient we are to Him, the better start we give our children. If I can teach Kiara and Khloe what I’m learning now at 30, what will 30 look like for them? They’ll be doing things for the kingdom that I can only dream about! At least, that is my prayer for them. Blow me absolutely out of the water, girls. Be bold in your faith. Little trailblazers. Boldly go where no Barnes or Cullen has gone before (I am not a vampire, you Twilight readers. My maiden name is Cullen. HA!).
Truth is, even if there is no reference point in our immediate circle, there are plenty in our church and those around us. But more than that, we have been given a solid, set-in-stone survey marker to follow. The good ol’ B-I-B-L-E. Yes, that’s the book for me! Simple as that. It’s our handbook that contains “everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). Want to know what God expects of you as a wife and mother? Read Ephesians 5. Proverbs 31. Titus 2. Deuteronomy 6. Then, DO what it says! If you’re like me, and you lack a worldly reference point, saturate yourself in these passages and others like it. Bookend your day with them. Read them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Here’s the kicker: what these passages pattern out for us looks pretty much EXACTLY OPPOSITE of the pattern set before us in the world. No reference point. No one to copy. No one glorifying it on TV and making it “cool.” “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.” Ephesians 5:22-23. When is the last time you saw THAT around you? The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church? That’s a tall order. The church’s job is to make much of Christ. Isn’t it our job, then, to make much of our husbands? Isn’t that what the Proverbs 31 woman does, serves her family well and her husband becomes known at the city gates? Rises up and calls her blessed? Ah, but here is where some get stuck. They look at their own circumstances and think that these don’t apply to them! “Well, you don’t know my husband. He’s XYZ. He does ABC. If it weren’t for me, JKLMNOP.” Then you wonder why it’s not working. “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). His word is the same for you as it is for me. A benchmark doesn’t move depending on who is standing on it. It is where it is.
We can’t use lack of a reference point as a copout for stunted spiritual growth. We are told that we are to bring out of our storeroom new treasures as well as old. We take everything that we can from those around us; in our church, in history, in our communities and social circles, and in the books that we read. But we also bring out new treasures. He does a new thing with us. He makes us the reference point for others. He does a miracle, splits seas, makes a dry path for us to walk on, and brings us into a new land. A foreign place. Unchartered territories. He makes streams in the wasteland and a way in the desert. Asks us to survey the land and map it out for others. Even in pink heels. What an awesome God we serve! Hang on to His loving arm as He pulls you across into new places. May you be the new survey marker for many generations to come. “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). Now, that’s just plain cool.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19