Talking to Rev. Randy Koon at the South Carolina Baptist Convention last week reminded me of a Bible verse that has blessed Harriet and me for the past two years. Randy Koon is the pastor of Mountain Rest Baptist Church in Mountain Rest, SC. Even more, he is a craftsman who uses his workmanship to bless others. The ball point pen he gave me on the final day of my term as President of the SCBC two years ago continues to bless me daily. No, that's not correct. It blesses us, and has blessed many others as well. Since Brian's death on July 18, 2011, I've told the ball point pen story pen to any number of people. It always concludes with tears of blessing and joy. Our meeting in the Gathering Place at Shandon Baptist Church last week was no exception.
Let's re-tell the story. Randy drove by an old stump in his community for many weeks. Finally one day he loaded it into his truck, took it to his workshop and allowed it to cure. It was a molded, mildewed mess, damp, and infested with grubs and termites. After some time he began to cut into the wood, and discovered a small core of good grain in the mess. Out of that ugly wood he crafted a ball point pen---precision cut and milled, finished with polished metal fittings, sanded to a bright, smooth lustre. It's the one on the far left in the pens pictured above. When he gave it to me, he told me he had crafted it to remind me that God could take something ugly and make something beautiful out of it. That takes my breath away.
The other day I told Randy about losing the pen. It went with me every where and I guarded it with my life. Not meaning to be rude, I usually wouldn't let anyone take it out of my sight. Many people have held it, admired it, and been blessed by it. But, after a speaking invitation I asked Harriet to hold it for me. She packed it away in her make-up kit and I couln't find it for a couple of weeks. One evening, as we torethe house apart looking for the pen, there it was. Right then I decided it would have to stay home. I would tell people the story but I didn't want to lose it again.
Until Randy Koon visited us last week in Columbia. He gave Harriet and pen, and me another one, from the same stump. They are treasures on a number of counts. That Randy crafted them is one great blessing. What they represent is a reminder of His grace. These three pens echo the verse He gave us two years ago: "But He gives more grace" (James 4:6).
More pens. More grace. WOW!