The #2 Yellow Pencil – A Metaphor for Life?

You read the title correctly. And I believe I can connect the dots for you in a way that might matter in your life. Explore this thought with me, my brothers and sisters, please.

I was offering a parallel to a group of men in the church not long ago, and I prepared a focus centered on the tail end of Galatians 3. I was centering on the brotherhood of Christ we all share and I wanted to bring out that brotherhood with an analogy. I planned on using Milton Friedman’s video about the pencil as the basis for explaining that we’re working together with a single and beautiful common point among us – Christ.

Friedman used the pencil to illustrate how the free market must and does work together to build the pencil. As a person in one place, by him or herself, couldn’t build something as simple as a pencil. The components and skill doesn’t exist all in one place to do so, therefore one must rely on others to construct the pencil. Friedman does a good job of illustrating this below:

Milton Friedman – The Pencil

For me, this really helped not only solidify my understanding of our shared brotherhood in Christ, but also the way the Gospel is offered. I might not be able to build the pencil, but I might be able to harvest the wood for it. My Pastor might be able to mine the graphite. A stranger might be able to offer the eraser rubber. And so on. The result? A pencil, eventually.

This is the way Christ works through us on others. One person plants a seed. Another person waters it. Another provides sunlight. And so on. I might not be able to bring a person to Christ all alone, but I can allow His spirit to work through me, and hope others do as well, eventually manifesting in a soul shown to Him.

The “Twist” in the Road

While I was offering the Friedman parallel to my brothers, an astonishing metaphor burst forth as I was describing the pencil. And one I hadn’t ever considered before. Thus, the twist in the road.

I was holding a brand new Dixon Ticonderoga #2 Yellow pencil that I had passed around to the men in the group to inspect. As I was describing the pencil, likenesses were made to all the parts. It smacked me in the face that the pencil is severely lopsided.

In essence, there is tremendous potential in the pencil. After all, there is a generous amount of graphite in which to write. But do we use it all? How many of you have ever used a pencil to the point it was too short to continue using? Conversely, how many of you have ever used the eraser to the point it was too short to continue using? BOOM… Does your pencil look like this:

Or more like this:

My metaphor is simple. The pencil represents our potential, yet which end do we use the most? Rather than using the graphite tip to construct sentences and build things of eternal significance, we end up using the eraser to repair what we’ve done incorrectly, thus focusing on items of temporal significance. And sometimes we even resort to this:

If I were living the way the Lord preferred, I’d use that pencil right down to the nub, and hopefully, the eraser would be completely intact. Instead, my eraser is gone before I’ve even sharpened the pencil a third time. I need to be in the Word and take my guidance from Him. He’s left me an AWESOME (<– separate but equally good story in and of itself) gift with the Gospel, and the more I read and think on it, the better I may act and speak. All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, right? I think I read that somewhere… I hope to increase the graphite use of my pencil and extend the life of the eraser.

I pray I can be both salt and light.

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