Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Measure Twice, Cut Once

Richard Ramsey was a precise man. This seems to be the year I loose the few men who have known me more than half my life that are not blood-related to me. Richard, aka Dick, taught me a lot about life. He was a man who modeled stability and discipline to a fault. I have never known anyone, before or since, who was so organized, structured and focused. A lifetime IBM-er, he modeled the phrase, measure twice, cut once.

I think the first time I heard that phrase from him was a cool autumn Saturday when we were building what would become the garage on his retirement lot near the intercoastal waterway outside of Bath, NC. The wind was brisk, and so cool it felt as though my face was being stretched across my cheekbones. I was helping, as best as an inexperienced carpenter can, him frame the structure. I noticed that he measured ever cut from at least two directions. He either measured top to bottom and then bottom to top, or left and right then reversed. I asked why and he said, “measure twice, cut once.” What does that mean? It means to weigh your actions because every action has a consequence. In this case he was determined to waste as little as possible during the construction process because he was on a tight budget. As a matter of fact, so little was wasted that I was amazed.

This is not the way they build houses (or garages) today. They build in a certain amount of “waste” counting on speed to make up for it. The philosophy is that faster is better, that 87 degrees is close enough to 90 that it won’t really matter and that somebody else down the line can make up for your sloppy work. I’m not sure Dick knew how Biblical the principal he taught me that day was. The Scripture tells us that we are to do our work as if it were for God and not just our earthly bosses. That we must live into a calling, not just scrape out a living. Our work is our testimony.

I am really trying to embrace this concept in my life. To measure each decision I make whether personally or professionally much more carefully than ever before. The loss of these two men really makes me aware of how fleeting life is and that every decision matters. I love Richard Ramsey as though he were my own father. His focus and determination was a model that I only hope I can follow in some small way as I try to “measure twice and cut once.” Until then, thank God I remain:

Lost in Grace,

Marty Cauley, Pastor

Gracious God who calls us into account for our lives, grant that I may follow you completely, weighing every decision with prayer and discernment and living a life that reflects my love for You and respect for those who have mentored me to follow in your path. In the name of Jesus I pray, AMEN.

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