So I will grab my old fashioned school sharpener, the one with the hand crank, and get them all back to their pointy selves and ready for use. Then I will carry them back to the windowsill next to my chair to use with my crossword puzzles. No, I do not do my puzzles in ink. Well, if it's a Los Angeles Times Crossword, even their Sunday crossword, I do. But a New York Times Crossword—no way. It will wind up a mess if I try.
The Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword is so easy I can do it in ink in just about 15 minutes. Once in a great while it will take 20. I might have one or two squares where I have had to go over a mistake in darker ink to correct it, but most of the time it is clean and legible without a single blotch. But the New York Times' puzzle takes me nearly an hour and quite a bit of erasing. If I tried it in ink, I probably wouldn't be able to read it for the mess I made. I may love to do those puzzles, but I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. You know those people who finish the marathon three hours after everyone else, coming in while the banners and signs are being taken down? That's me doing a crossword puzzle. All I can say is, I get it done. And hurray for pencils and erasers.
Jesus is my pencil and God is my eraser. The Lord's sacrifice is far larger than we usually give him credit for. Not to diminish it in the least, but he didn't just die for us and rise from the dead for us, a process that took no more than three days. He lived a lifetime for us as a human being, experiencing the same trials and sorrows we do. God, mind you--and he did it without the failings we so often want to excuse because we are "only human." When we do that, we insult that sacrifice, because he did it to show us how, to show us that we most certainly can do it, especially with his help—or will we insult that too?
No, life is not a Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. God never told us it would be easy, and that's why I need the pencil. He promised us "thorns and thistles" and "sweat of the brow." He told we would have to kill our old man (crucified) and become something brand new. He may have said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light," but it's still a yoke and a burden.
But then he tells me that all is not lost if I do fail. After all, this life is written in pencil if we just repent, get back on our feet, and try again, determined to go farther than the last time, determined to improve—not to make excuses. And then God will erase that error like it never happened, clean, white paper without even a smudge, ready for the next attempt. And with his help, we might even get the right answer this time.
When we refuse to try, when we make excuses for our failure and refuse to admit our wrong, that's when we are writing in ink. We can go over it and over it and over it, making it darker and uglier with every try, and everyone will still see the obvious error. Maybe everyone but the one who need to see the truth the most--me. And it can never be erased, if that is the attitude we have.
Far better to follow the Lord's example. Far better to be tough and work hard and try again and again and again. Pencil is, after all, easily erased.
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1John 1:6-7).