I have a bag designated for Bible study, which just started a few weeks ago. I’m not quite in the routine yet. I didn’t put an extra pencil in the side pouch as usual, and I left my appointment book in the van after referring to it before beginning my drive. I always have a pencil tucked into that book.
I arrived to study early, toting coffee for a busy young mom who wouldn’t have extra time to stop for it. I sat in the circle and connected with others as they arrived. When it was time to begin study, I’ll pulled out my notes and my….lack of pencil.
I’m fairly particular about my writing utensils. In fact, I might qualify as a writing utensil snob. I thought, “Surely, I didn’t forget a pencil of all things. Surely, I put an extra one in my bag.”
No pencil, pen, marker, crayon, or eye or lip liner!
By the time I admitted my fault, discussion had already begun.
“Umm…I’m so sorry to interrupt, but doesn’t anybody have a pencil or something they would please lend me?”
The woman directly across from me enthusiastically extended her pen to me. (I don’t really like pens all that much, but I certainly wasn’t going to be picky.) It was a nice pen. I said thank you, and conversation began, but I quickly interrupted again,
“So sorry, but I just realized I won’t have anything to take notes with later during the lecture. Do you mind…?”
The question trailed off as she assured me she didn’t want it back. It was mine. She had plenty.
The pen wrote nicely. It was one of those a company has spent a pretty penny on to get their name out to the community. I looked across the circle. My pen friend was contentedly writing with a cheap stick pen.
I refused to interrupt again, but as soon as discussion closed, I pleaded with her to exchange with me. I promised her I’d return it the following week. Oh, wait. I would miss the next two weeks. I was beginning to feel like I was full of excuses and neediness.
She smiled the whole time and, finally, firmly said, “It is yours. I want to give it to you. Please accept it.”
She gave up her best.
And I realized she was an example of grace.
A pen might not seem like a big thing, until it becomes a reminder of something much bigger.