Pencils Have Changed

Have you noticed the lack of quality these days?

As a kid, I would look forward to that moment when graphite finally wore down to wood. I could go on no longer–I had to take a break and sharpen my pencil. And what a satisfying distraction chore it was.

The dull tip went into the sharpener; I cranked and cranked and cranked. (My teacher instituted the 4 Turns Rule because of me–she claimed it only took four turns of the handle to achieve the perfect point — I silently questioned her sharpening abilities). When the pencil came out, the sharpener had miraculously transformed it into a tool of infinite potential, never mind its shorter stature.

But these days? Now you write until the lead breaks. Not until it wears down–until it breaks. The break isn’t a satisfying snip of the point when you’re too fervent with some spelling words. Nope . . . it breaks just below the wood. Down deep in the mysterious core of the pencil.

Pencils sharp and broken lacking quality.

And when you try to sharpen it? It’s uneven. Or it splinters. Or, worst of all, it has a perfect wooden point with no graphite in sight.

And don’t get me started on erasers . . . I could write a whole separate rant on those.

It’s a quality issue

In researching this modern-day phenomenon, I found a fascinating site run by pencil experts (who knew?). One article, in particular, caught my eye with its bold claim: The Pencil Crisis: Quality Pencils in the Classroom–How Low Quality Pencils Impact our Students’ Education.

Did you know that we end up paying more for cheap pencils? The lead isn’t centered, the wood is pitted, and the fancy plastic wrapping isn’t biodegradable? I knew they were ineffective, but I had no idea how irresponsible they’d become.

Why have these tools of education fallen to such low depths?

We’ve once again, discarded quality for aesthetics and price. We ignorantly believe that all pencils are created equal, and so we reach for the trappings of color, design, and glitter. Why pay more for a boring yellow pencil when we can have one with sparkly hearts? We’re focused on the wrappings and not the core.

And that got me thinking . . .

I don’t want to be a sparkly, cheap Christian. I want to be a boring, yellow Christian that can be used over and over again for the Lord’s work. I want to be ready with a sharp point when He reaches for me, and I want to be sharpen-able.

The glittery wrappings of a “Christian” lifestyle has lured me in before. It can be very tempting and deceitful with it’s right words, music, activities, and doctrine. There’s a formula to follow, an image to copy–it’s so much easier than the hard work of tending to my spiritual core.

We’re at risk for creating churches full of pretty Christians.

Pencil in open Bible ready to do the will of God with quality.

And what happens when God needs to sharpen those pretty Christians? He finds:

  • They’re uneven, and only half ready to work
  • They only hold a point for a while, and then break deep inside
  • Their wooden shells have created a false tip with no graphite in sight.

What kind of Kingdom can we create with a multitude of useless pencils? They’re ineffective and irresponsible.

It’s Still a Quality Issue

I’m choosing the yellow life. Jesus demonstrated and opened the way to our strong core: a relationship with God. A love for Him and others that can revolutionize the world.

And the beautiful thing about a true faith in Jesus is that if our outsides are worn, perhaps chewed on a bit, maybe even snapped in half, we are still the preferred weapon the Lord reaches for.

No need for a fancy wrapper.

So let’s join together in prayer and lift one another up. Expect quality cores from ourselves, and love others until they’re comfortable taking their own wrappings off. Let our authenticity, humility and love be what glitters.

Look to your core. We’re His tools; we can’t be cheap.

Look to your core. We're His tools; we can't be cheap. Click To Tweet

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3: 14-19

When we seek the Lord during our everyday lives, He teaches us lessons from the small things. And lessons learned first-hand lead to deep spiritual transformation. Slow down and learn to turn to Him throughout your day with scriptural meditation. Begin your journey here.

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Sharpened pencil ready to work as we are for the Lord.