My frequent walks on Galveston's seawall brought this e-piphany to mind.
This is a benchmark. At some point in time, surveyors arrived at a precise calculation of this location and its elevation above sea level. Then, they placed brass plate here so that it could be used by others a reference point in tidal observations and surveys. A surveying team places a transit directly over this benchmark and then uses other instruments to attain precise measurements. People have returned to this benchmark time and time again to orient themselves.
For Christians, the Holy Bible is a benchmark, a fixed reference point to which we turn to orient our lives and our actions. The Bible, like this one at Galveston’s Trinity Church or the one on your desk, is a revelation of God - God’s nature, and God’s purpose for creation. God gives us additional instruments which are necessary to apply the divinely inspired writings of the Bible to our lives: the instrument of reason and the instrument of tradition. Reason is necessary in order for us to find the truth of the scripture in relation to the world and the time in which we live so that it is ever relevant, as fresh as the morning newspaper. Tradition, the accumulated wisdom of surveyors of the faith through the centuries. It is necessary in order for us to see how others who have gone before us have applied the teachings of the Bible to their circumstances. We can learn so much from their experience and insights.
In this way, scripture serves as our benchmark for the proper orientation of our life and our faith, helping us find our way as we walk with God. Read the scriptures and use the God-given instruments of reason and tradition to orient the life God has given you. The Book of Proverbs promises, when you do, “Then, you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; prudence will watch over you; and understanding will guard you.” (Proverb s 2:9-11)