Sermon Illustrations

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.

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