It is time to write another column, so I sit here chewing on my favourite 6B pencil. While meditating, I pick up a sharpener and begin to shave away the wood, making a nice sharp point on my trusty tool before writing. I realise that we’re all rather like pencils – not much good until trimmed ready for action..
Sharpening of people hurts. Often it means going through difficult experiences; suffering, loneliness, misunderstanding or rejection. But these things help us become the sort of tool God uses to make marks in the lives of others. The challenge is – how effective are we as “God’s pencils?” How much of the prettily painted outer casing of selfish intolerance and critical attitude has He been able to whittle away to expose the inner qualities of His love to those around us? That’s what God put us here for – to leave a mark in the lives of family and friends whose lives we touch in our daily activities. Like pencils, we are most effective when we allow ourselves to be held in God’s hand, and submit to His guidance.
And thank God He made each of us like a pencil with an inbuilt eraser! When we make mistakes, we can correct then. While we can’t change the past, or erase history, we can wipe out our guilt and cover anger with His forgiveness. When we are blunt or scratchy, if we submit to our Master’s hand, God will get out His sharpener and give our lives new point and fresh focus.
Just as pencils are still essential for conveying beauty and creativity (in music, art or writing), so we can be God’s instruments to express His love and purpose in the lives of those around us. Like a pencil, other people see the tough stuff on our exterior; but it’s what we are on the inside that matters. Are we made up of love or bitterness, kindness or selfishness, intolerance or understanding, courage or fear? These inner qualities identify the marks we make in the pattern of our life.
What project has God chosen you for? When He plucks you from the box, will you submit to His painful sharpening? Are you willing to have self ground down so that He may use you to write of His love? Let’s be the means of making bold marks for God during this time of enforced Covid isolation – and every day. Next time you use a pencil, stop and think about it. For this humble little implement teaches us some great lessons about making a mark for God.
He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3 v 30)
Rosemary & Geoff Francis.