acciacejBack-to-school shopping lists typically include a basic item: a box of No. 2 pencils. We may take for granted that the pencils we purchase have a small rubber eraser at the end, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that businessman Hymen Lipman decided to combine the two inventions.

The eraser-topped pencil eventually became a hit in the United States and even inspired a sermon in 1915 by Reverend Silas Dilmar Conger, who told his congregation, “To keep our past failures ever before us would cause us to continue to fail. So take out your pencil, rub out the mark and start over again.”

Jack, a CBI student in Texas, wrote to his CBI Instructor, reflecting on this comparison between errant pencil marks and past failures:

I was alone, sitting in my cell; my sins weighed heavy upon my shoulders. I remember saying, “God, I can’t do this.” But I started studying God’s Word, doing Bible studies, going to church—I just couldn’t get enough. It took ten years for me to give all I had to Jesus. It was hard to forgive myself; I hated who I was from nine years old until I was fifty. Right now, I love who I see in the mirror. Just think how much better this world would be if we stopped putting questions marks where God puts periods. It was hard for me to let go, but now I write the plans for my life in pencil and I give God the eraser. That’s the way I describe faith.

Jack’s past mistakes have already been graciously erased by Jesus, the giver of second chances. And now he’s finding that often God erases our plans for the future and replaces them with something better than we could have hoped for.

Crossroad students in prisons across the world are learning this beautiful truth through their CBI lessons. Their Instructors are teaching them that surrendering authorship of their life stories to the Lord is all part of His glorious plan.

Want to be a part of the life stories of people in prison? Volunteer with Crossroad!