Not long ago, I spent a week at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference. I flew from Portland straight to San Diego, where my husband, Mike, picked me up. We drove over the border to spend a week at our timeshare in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.
Our condo was on the top floor, at the top of a hill with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. After several trips from where we parked the car, up a hill, one flight of stairs, around the pool, and up another flight to our condo, I was hot, tired, and sweaty. But I had to do laundry because I’d already been gone from home for a week.
I headed down the two flights of stairs, down a hill, to the laundry room to see how much it would cost to do a load of wash. After determining I didn’t have enough quarters, I hiked up the hill to the office to buy a roll of quarters. Then I headed back up the first set of stairs, skirted the pool, and trudged up to the condo to collect my clothes and the soap I’d purchased on our way into town.
My clothes fit into one pillowcase. I took a breath, then headed back down to the laundry room. I threw my clothes in the washer, inserted my quarters, and grabbed the pouch of laundry soap. Picture a Capri Sun drink, but bigger. After reading the Spanish instructions, and translating them as best as I could, I tried to tear open the pouch.
It didn’t open. After scrutinizing the pouch again, I saw a tiny picture of a pair of scissors and a dotted line on one of the top corners.
I didn’t have a pair of scissors with me.
I circled around the laundry room, looking to see if anyone had left something sharp I could use to get the pouch open.
Nothing. I tried using my teeth, my bare hands, and brute force. It refused to budge. There was no way I was going to trudge back up the hill, up one flight of steps, around the pool, and up a second flight of stairs, just to get that thing open. I was hot, tired, and cranky.
As I stood there, almost in tears, my hand absently rubbed the necklace I wore as I prayed for Divine help.
I felt like the Lord said, “Jane, what is in your hand?”
I looked down at my necklace and saw the tiny fountain pen charm that hung on the chain. Could it be enough to pierce the thick plastic barrier that kept me from doing the one thing I needed to do before I could relax?
I pulled the chain over my head and used that tiny pointed thing to poke a hole in the bag. Success!
Even though I was tired and sweaty, and thought I had nothing, God used a tiny object to ease my stress.
I’m reminded of the story of David and Goliath. David went out to fight that giant of a man, even though he was like a grasshopper in comparison. I can almost picture God saying, “David, what is in your hand?”
“Just a few stones, Lord.” Yet it was enough to kill the giant and defeat the Philistines.
In the same way, after Jesus had taught the Jews on the hillside for an entire day, everyone was hungry. Jesus may have asked the disciples, “What is in your hand?”
“Just these few fish and a loaf of bread.” And it was enough to feed over five thousand people.
I had the privilege recently to help plan next year’s West Coast Christian Writer’s conference. On the last day, the board president gave a pencil to each of us. Not just ordinary pencils. These are Blackwing Pencils, made especially for artists and writers.
Legendary Grammy, Emmy, Pulitzer and Academy Award winners have created with the Blackwing pencil. The list of known users includes John Steinbeck, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein and Chuck Jones, who proudly used Blackwings to create Bugs Bunny and many other Looney Tunes characters.
“Jane, what’s in your hand?”
“Just a pencil, Lord.”
But a pencil creates words, and words have power. Power to heal. Power to change lives, to offer hope and redemption.
Writer – what is in your hand?