The Wrong Yardstick

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2013 13 Jun

It’s half a yardstick, a mere eighteen inches, yet it can seem an infinite distance, this space between the head and the heart. God tells us so many wonderful things—that he shaped us in the womb, that he chose us as his own, that we are his sons and daughters, that he will never fail or forsake us, that we are forgiven and loved. Yet we doubt.

Joanna Weaver gave her life to Christ as a child. But she could never quite believe God loved her. Instead, she measured herself by the yardstick of God’s law and found herself falling short. “I was almost thirty,” she says, “before the message of grace finally made the trip from my head to my heart, setting me ‘free from the law of sin and death’ (Romans 8:2). As the light of the good news finally penetrated the darkness of my self-condemning mind, the ‘perfect love’ 1 John 4:18 speaks of finally drove out my insecurity, which had always been rooted in fear of punishment.

“When I finally . . . admitted that in myself I would never be—could never be—enough, I experienced a breakthrough that has radically changed my life. For as I surrendered my yardstick—the tool of comparison that had caused so much mental torment and a sense of separation from God—Jesus took it from my hands. Then, with a look of great love, He broke it over His knee and turned it into a cross, reminding me that He died so I wouldn’t have to.”(1)

Joanna’s story points to Good Friday and to Easter, but it also reminds me of Christmas, because it calls to mind the lyrics of the hymn “O Holy Night”:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

It is Christ’s appearing—his birth, his life on earth, and his death and resurrection—that speaks of God’s immeasurable love and power, enabling our souls to finally and forever know their worth.  

(1) Joanna Weaver, Lazarus Awakening (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2011), 14.

(Image courtesy of geshaboy500 at