The start of a new year has often been described by phrases such as, “a fresh start,” “a new lease on life,” “turning over a new leaf or page,” “beginning a new chapter,” and “starting with a clean slate.” Perhaps in this highly technological age we can use updated phrases to mark this occasion, such as, “getting a reboot,” “proceeding with a clean hard drive,” “upgrading your software,” or “downloading a new app!”
I suggest that a good phrase to adopt as a new year’s motivation is “godly imprint.” The following parable, penned by an unknown author, provides a wise illustration to motivate us towards achieving this goal.
The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting it into the box. “There are 5 things you need to know,” he told the pencil, “before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”
o You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.
o You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.
o You have an eraser. You will be able to correct mistakes you will make.
o The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.
o On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.
The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.
Now, imagine yourself as the pencil and God as the Pencil Maker. What kind of a story could God write using you as His instrument to make a godly imprint in the coming year?
o You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.
o You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems, but you’ll need it to become a stronger person.
o You will be able to make corrections to the mistakes you might make through forgiveness. You can also grow as a result of them through God’s sanctifying work.
o The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.
o On every surface you walk, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to serve God in everything.
The principle of the godly imprint that one single life used by God can make was dynamically on display as Sharon and I recently participated in the “celebration/memorial service” for a dear sister saint who went to be with her Lord. She was a charter member of a church where I formerly served as pastor. She had faithfully served as a deacon’s wife, Sunday School teacher, Daily Vacation Bible School worker, nursery worker, and, along with her husband, a compassionate servant for over a half century.
She was a spiritual “Pied Piper” of every person who was blessed by God to intersect her path of godly influence. One can only imagine how many sets of little ears listened to this master Bible story-teller share with enthusiasm about the wonders of God or heard her pray for them by name. Whether it was her creative way of teaching Bible stories, her godly character, or responding with genuine excitement as a child showed her a craft they had handmade, every child left feeling valued and closer to God.
As many stood to share testimonies about her godly example and loving influence in their lives I couldn’t help but wonder how many people’s lives this faithful servant of God had impacted by her consistent ministry of teaching children. Hundreds of children received effective teaching by this dear lady over her five decades of service, including our own daughter. New generations continue to be spiritually impacted because of her influence upon those who now mentor them.
I noticed that those who shared testimonies came from at least four different generations. They each shared thoughtful and, sometimes, humorous reflections. But each testimony contained a common denominator: they were impacted because this humble servant simply let God use her to make a “mark” on others by sharing His Word faithfully in week after week and year after year in the laboratory of life. Her Spirit filled enthusiasm contagiously left a godly imprint on every person who had the wonderful blessing of entering into in her sphere of spiritual influence.
All of us who attended that that unique gathering left feeling encouraged, blessed, and challenged to be used of God to leave our mark in a similar way. I noted that there were no press reporters waiting outside to get exclusive “insider” interviews. Nor were there paparazzi gathered in order to capture pictures of the event. But I thought as we filed out that day the Lord had already taken note of this dear sister’s daily commitment to be God’s instrument and had declared, “Well done,” as she entered into His presence.
Driving back home following this special time gathering, Sharon and I paused to thank God for the honor of serving alongside such a godly influencer. We also reflected upon the dozens of similar godly servants that we have had the privilege of ministering with over the years. Some of them may even be reading this column!
The testimony of this type of humble servant’s life was similar to that of Paul the Apostle as he shared with the Corinthian believers, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3
Events like the one we experienced a few weeks ago help to bring things back into perspective. Perhaps facing the prospect of entering a new year and “another tour of duty,” whether it be as a Sunday School teacher, AWANA worker, nursery worker, usher, deacon, musician, pastor, or ___________ (you fill in the blank), leaves you feeling frustrated or weary.
Why not work your way down the hallway of the building where you worship and listen to a faithful servant who is ministering to captivated audience as if she or he were ministering to a King? In fact, that is exactly what they are doing. And in the process they are being used by their Royal Master to indelibly and eternally imprint His Word in the heart of every young life they serve.
As you and I remember the importance of making an imprint in the year ahead, let us proceed each day having a meaningful purpose in our heart and a close relationship daily with God. God will not only use us especially when we yield ourselves to be His instrument, but others will be eternally impacted and blessed.
You have His Word on it!