Madam Teresa once said, “We are all pencils in the hand of God”. This statement evokes numerous interpretations. One can interpret it as meaning; one’s value being showcased when one submits to the will of God. Others can also interpret it as meaning being powerless except we subjugate ourselves to God. It can also mean trusting God. But why would Madam Teresa use a pencil to illustrate this? Let me borrow the words of Ghana’s Vice President when he was asked a dicey question and say “You and I were not there”. Even though you and I were not there, I’m sure there’s more to this than just the pencil being used to create an image.
So, let’s start off by asking ourselves this “ridiculous” question. What is a pencil? According to Wikipedia, “A pencil is a writing implement or art medium constructed of a narrow, solid pigment core inside a protective casing which prevents the core from being broken and/or from leaving marks on the user’s hand during use”. Most pencil cores are made of graphite mixed with a clay binder which leaves grey or black marks that can easily be erased. Pencils create marks by physical abrasion, leaving behind a trail of solid core material that adheres to a sheet of paper or another surface. It goes on to say, to use the pencil, the casing must be carved or peeled off to expose the working end of the core as a sharp point.
Since Madam Teresa says we’re all pencils in the hand of God, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the pencil in the text above beginning from it being carved or peeled off to expose its working end or sharp point. A pencil is supposed to make a mark on a surface so what’s its essence if it’s left in its protective casing without being exposed to do its work? Just as pencils have granites mixed with a clay binder protected in a casing, humans also have that in the form of potential hidden in the body or belly as some choose to call it. Which other better way can that potential be unravelled if not by carving or peeling?
Carving or peeling is an unpleasant exercise for both the carver and the object being carved. It’s usually herculean for the carver especially when the casing is hard but always a painful experience for the object being peeled because of the tools used for this process.
Sharpeners, blades, and other sharp tools are usually used to peel off the casings of pencils to showcase its sharp point. I believe when it comes humans also, God uses diverse sharpening tools in the form of unpleasant experiences, to peel off our casings just to reveal our potential to the world. Unlike the pencil which doesn’t express its pain when it is being peeled or sharpened, same cannot be said of humans due to our sense of feeling.
No wonder you’d see people fretting, crying, feeling miserable etc. when God begins to peel them just to unravel their potential or purpose. It’s normal when one exhibits these characters but where we lose it is when we try to resist the process or misinterpret it. We usually attribute unpleasant experiences to the devil so when God begins to work on us by peeling us, we go AWOL and begin to question God why such unpleasant experiences befall us. We sometimes resort to half-baked solutions to bail ourselves out and this often leads to a devastating end. We try hard to resist the peeling stage.
How would you feel if you’re trying to sharpen a pencil you intend to use for a great artwork and it begins to resist? Your answer is as good as mine. But that is exactly what we do to God.
Your peeling stage might be in the form of a delay, a loss, denial, failure, heartbreak etc. A pencil knows its purpose so it isn’t bothered about the tool used to sharpen it. Neither is it concerned about how it is being sharpened. The pencil eagerly looks forward to the moment where its sharpening edge would be unravelled and unleashed on a surface. So just like the pencil, keep calm and look forward to the stage where your sharp potential will be unravelled. You have more reason to keep calm because it is God who is peeling you and not man who sometimes makes mistakes when sharpening a pencil. He has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he is a perfectionist and a great artist.
WRITER: Desmond Pappy Tawiah