To A “T”

Last week I wrote about something fitting “to a T.” I was curious about that phrase, so I did a little research. (This happens all the time … I start looking things up and suddenly hours have gone by. It’s a wonder I get anything written.) The phrase “to a T” refers to something that fits precisely. It apparently comes from one of two sources according to

  • ‘T-square’ has something going for it, in that a T-square is a precise drawing instrument, but also lacks any other evidence to link it to the phrase.
  • The letter ‘T’ itself, as the initial of a word. If this is the derivation then the word in question is very likely to be ‘tittle’. A tittle is a small stroke or point in writing or printing and is now best remembered via the term jot or tittle. The best reason for believing that this is the source of the ‘T’ is that the phrase ‘to a tittle’ existed in English well before ‘to a T’, with the same meaning; for example, in Francis Beaumont’s Jacobean comedy drama The Woman Hater, 1607.

In the last month I have counseled two people who are having doubts about the existence of God. I reassured them that doubt is part of the process and advised them to keep seeking and searching for God. I know that they will find him, as God is not offended or put off by our doubts. Whenever he is sought, God is always found.

So, to push the metaphor a little bit, I think “Doubting Thomas” might bring a new meaning to “to a T” … we often fit precisely like Thomas when it comes to being unsure of things of faith. Has your faith ever fit “to a Thomas”? Mine has.

John 20 (Common English Bible)

19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”

24 Thomas, the one called Didymus, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.”

26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”

2Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”

2Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”

30 Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.

So here is the good news. Unlike Thomas, we probably won’t encounter the resurrected Jesus on earth in this lifetime. But we certainly can see God all around us. The troubled teenager I spoke with could easily recount times when she saw God’s activity, as he delivered her from foster care to a stable home of a relative. The gentlemen who expressed doubt could easily see God’s work in the care ministries of the church.

Where do you see God at work today? Can you recall a time when you knew God had prompted someone to help you? Do you see God in creation, the sweetness of a newborn, or the casserole that showed up when you were sick?

It’s okay to doubt. Just keep looking … God is there.

Seeker’s Path by Kathy Schumacher

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