The western heavens were alight with the soft afterglow of the long summer day. The last stirrings of the afternoon sea wind murmured drowsily in the moss-hung maples along the drive. Inside the old house, a small fire burned slowly on the stone hearth, while above it, comfortably set on the wide mantel, the family clock pointed to ten minutes to bedtime.
At his grandmother’s knee, the little man of four was enjoying his evening adventure with pencil and paper. For half an hour the two of them had been drawing figures, letters, numbers, and words. Finally grandmother took the pencil and paper. Carefully she spelled out and wrote down the letters of her grandson’s name—Floyd.
Then, turning the pad, she handed the pencil back to the boy and said, “There! That’s your name. Now you write it. Make each letter just like the one above it. Go ahead. Try.”
The brown-eyed lad looked up into his grandmother’s face with childish perplexity and hesitancy. His eager face twisted into a lovable pattern of self-distrust.
“N-o-o-o-o,” he confessed innocently. “N-o-o-o-o, grandma. I can’t. I can’t do it. My pencil goes wrong. I can’t make it go where it’s supposed to go.”
Lovingly, grandma drew him close. Patiently she put the pencil between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. Then, placing her own right hand over his, she drew out the letters, line by line, curve by curve, naming each of the letters in turn.
“There!” she exclaimed when she had finished. “You wrote your name. F-l-o-y-d.”
A look of wonder and joy came into the lad’s face. “I did, grandma? I did? Did I write my name?”
Then the full truth burst upon him and he became exuberant. “I did it! You held my hand and I wrote my name!”
Across the room grandpa had laid his paper aside and was watching and listening. The scene before him was so simple, the lesson it illustrated so profound. Weeks later it was still in his mind.
How like the little boys we are, each and every one of us! Little boys of four, standing as it were at our grandmother’s knee, fascinated with the letters and figures of life. Fascinated and inept and just a wee bit afraid.
We have the pattern before us. We take the pencil in our hands. We make our marks on the clean page. But, alas! How poorly they resembled the neat letters above! How uncontrolled our “a’s”! How misshapen our “b’s”! How unintelligible our “c’s”! What scrawlings we make at best, when we make them ourselves. How unlike the divine Pattern we are when we attempt to live His life in our own strength and wisdom!
What we need—indeed, what we must have—is a hand to hold ours as we work out our lines and curves on the page of life.
It is our fingers that hold the pencil. But it is the hand of Christ, holding our hands, that directs the making of the letters. How simple! How wonderful! How utterly, imperatively necessary!
Are you having trouble with your letters? There is only One who can help you. Why not yield yourself in full surrender to Him today?—By Sanford T. Whitman, Signs of the Times, December 19, 1956.
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by John Hamby on Jul 15, 2002
“At approximately 3:20 on the morning of March 13, 1964, twenty-eight-year-old …(Kitty) Genovese was returning to her home in a nice middle-class area of Queens, NY…. She parked her ….(car) in a nearby parking lot, turned-off the lights and started the walk to her second floor apartment some 35 ...read more
Contributed by Martin Kim on Dec 28, 2004
“If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an economist. But, our ...read more
Contributed by Jim Kane on Jul 11, 2002
In their devotional guide, Experiencing God Day-By-Day, Henry and Richard Blackaby ask the question, “Are you satisfied with merely knowing the acts of God or do you also want to know His ways? This is a question that requires an answer and the ...read more
Contributed by Jerry Flury on Jul 17, 2004
It’s what you do--not when you do it. Ted Williams, at age 42, slammed a home run in his last official time at bat. Mickey Mantle, age 20, hit 23 home runs his first full year in the major leagues. Golda Meir was 71 when she became Prime Minister of Israel. William Pitt II was 24 when he became ...read more
Contributed by Charlie Roberts on Jul 2, 2012
The devil has been hard at work attacking fathers all across the globe, for thousands of years, Because he knows the word, he knows the significance of the word and the significance of something that God instructs us to do.
Contributed by Dennis Davidson on Mar 28, 2013
Proverbs 27:23-27 portrays the wondrous interplay of diligent work on our part & faithful watch-care [or providence] as God's part. God has placed return in our work but has given man the responsibility to be diligent in order to extract it. Because God'