Decapitated Pencils

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9

The office floor was littered with them. I had no idea what they were until I knelt to pick them up. And then I knew. The tiny rubber objects were mute evidence that a vandal had been in the room.

“Perhaps we should call the police and report the crime and have the tiny things dusted for finger prints,” I thought. “No, perhaps not!” I looked again at the cylindrical objects in my hand and shook my head. “Who would do such a thing?,” I muttered. “It just doesn’t make sense!”

Upon further investigation I found additional evidence. There before me were several slender yet-to-be-sharpened Number 2 pencils — without erasers! Someone had entered our office, decapitated our pencils, and littered our floor with the tiny erasers!

Now, I know that this is not the crime of the century nor is it likely to make the evening news. But it does bother me because pencils and erasers and I go way back. I remember the days when I learned to use one of those jumbo pencils with the jumbo erasers on the end. I made jumbo letters on my jumbo Big Chief Tablet. And when I made mistakes, I made jumbo mistakes that could only be corrected with a jumbo eraser. As I got older the pencils got slimmer and the erasers got smaller, but somehow I always managed to make jumbo mistakes. No problem. I always had an eraser handy that was capable of erasing my erratum.

Over the years I have developed an appreciation for the role of the humble eraser in our society. The business and academic worlds could not function as effectively without erasers. Students would have a difficult time doing homework and taking Algebra without the help of erasers. And lest we think the eraser is obsolete, it is one of the few things in our society that has kept pace with our burgeoning technology. When I bought my first typewriter it came complete with a package of lift-off correction tape. And then in later years my clumsy typing was aided by White-Out Correction Fluid. And my personal computer not only has a delete key, it also allows me to use a spell checker that will correct my mistakes.

Yes, erasers have played an important role in my life over the years. They have served to remind me that I am a human being with the potential to make mistakes. They have helped me to right countless wrongs. They have given me the opportunity to begin again. They have occupied a place on the ends of my pencils, not to criticize but to serve.

Erasers also play an important role in my spiritual life. I am thankful that God made provision for the stain of sin to be erased from my life (Hebrews 9:22). I am thankful that God has made provision for me to begin again when my life becomes marked with the wrong things (Psalm 130:1-4). I am thankful that the Christian life comes equipped with an eraser that can handle even my jumbo sins (I John 1:9). So if you know who the pencil vandal is, tell him or her to stop decapitating our pencils. I make too many mistakes to live life without erasers!

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