Don’t you just love the “delete” keys on all the electronic gadgets we have these days? Of all the keys and buttons that adorn my life, the delete key outshines them all. For instance, the brief sense of relief a snooze button offers can’t begin to compare with the enduring satisfaction the delete key brings with it.
The Redemptive Power of Keyboards ~
The power to obliterate a word, or a phrase, or even whole documents with a single touch is almost heady. Delete keys offer an opportunity for verbal redemption that you just can’t get in other situations. Like that time I decided to share a little sarcastic redneck humor in a small Southern Baptist country church where I had been invited to speak. All that my lame attempt to lighten the somber atmosphere did was to give all the deacons on the front row an opportunity to pull out a look of indignant astonishment … You know, the one that’s kept in reserve in case anyone ever suggests having communion with real wine.
Correcting writing mistakes has always been challenging. Most of my academic and early professional career took place back when producing a printed page required the use of machines called “typewriters”. They might seem archaic now, but for decades they were an indispensable piece of equipment for students and office workers. Typewriters were paragons of mechanical ingenuity, but they couldn’t stop people like me from hitting the wrong key, which presented a major problem.
Good Idea – Disappointing Performance ~
Most of us had nothing more than “typing erasers” to correct mistakes back then. Ostensibly, one could use this ingenious device to eradicate any inadvertent error and deftly brush away any telltale residue. But the truth is, the “correction” procedure often only made things worse. The texture of rubbery stuff that was supposed to magically remove the problem seemed to be a mixture of Army surplus WWII jeep tires and construction grade sandpaper.
Two questions always made the process interesting . . . How many strokes would it take before the “correction” transformed an otherwise pristine document to a piece of waste paper sporting an ugly dark splotch with a hole in the middle of it? And how long would it take before a state of mild irritation escalated into something just short of a full blown psychotic episode?
In spite of our grand intentions and aspirations of perfection, we human beings have an inherent tendency to make wrong moves that have unintended consequences in lots of areas that have nothing to do with our word-processing skills. There are obvious reasons why people like me love delete keys, but there’s something more than the corrective measures that we love about them. We also cherish the deceptive appearance of perfection that they allow. Let me explain.
Perfection – A Crafted Illusion ~
A few years ago, I published a small devotional book. While I deeply appreciated the opportunity to produce it, I must offer a disclaimer. I could proudly announce, in a humble sort of way of course, that there were no typos in the book, no erasure marks, no misspellings, and no grammatical issues. Just looking at the printed pages alone might suggest that the linguistic and typing skills were incredibly impressive, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Its current condition was achieved only because skilled editors read every word on every page over and over with the sole objective of identifying anything that didn’t meet the publisher’s standards. And that process didn’t even begin until after it had already been scrutinized and approved by the best proofreader I’ve ever met.
The book ultimately went to final publication in a condition that publishers demand and readers expect – you might even call it another example of what some might claim as literary perfection (well, a guy can still dream, right?). But in reality, that objective was only made possible because those wonderful little delete keys exist. Which makes one wonder, what if they didn’t? What if everything we write had to remain just as we originally wrote it? Suppose we could no longer present the aura of excellence that delete keys allow? If we don’t want others to see a relatively harmless misspelling or typo because our fingers flew in the wrong direction on a keyboard, what about all the bad moves we’ve made in more significant areas? What do we do about those?
Writing Our Own Book ~
Like most people, you may not consider yourself a writer. You may not even be among those who feel compelled to post their inspirational thoughts and political opinions on social media. We might not find videos of you doing your favorite dance moves on TikTok. Instagram may not even be harboring pictures of you cuddling with your pet iguana – and the world wide web may never reveal the impact that yesterday’s breakfast taco had on your digestive tract. But like it or not, along with everyone else on the planet, you are, in a sense, writing your own comprehensive, unabridged autobiography.
The finished product will include every place we’ve gone, everything we’ve done and all the words, thoughts, and feelings that accompanied them. We can’t opt out, nothing is excluded, and we add another few pages every day. And here’s the kicker – the world’s technological genius offers no backspace buttons or delete keys. The final product will be submitted to the Omniscient Judge of the Universe to determine whether it’s acceptable. Like even the world’s publishers, He will compare our work to the required standard – flawless perfection.
The Greatest Correction Procedure Ever ~
When I first encountered the One who will judge the final manuscript of my life’s work, the pages were full of mistakes I had tried to fix. There were dark splotches with holes in the middle everywhere. He looked at the mess I’d made of what He had created and offered to correct it. There was only one option available – but it was guaranteed to work. The written guarantee included this incredible promise:
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13–14 NKJV)
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight… (Colossians 1:21–22 NKJV)
When I handed everything over to Jesus, He didn’t just cover up the dark splotches of my failed efforts and fill the empty holes in my life. He gave me a brand new page with no typos, no misspellings, no incomplete sentences, and no sinful, senseless foolishness. But here’s the best news of all. He starts me off with a fresh page every day and continually makes corrections as I write.
There’s no mistake about it. Jesus lives to transform painfully chaotic stories like mine into prize-winning masterpieces – and what He’s done for me, He’ll do for anyone who comes to Him in faith with an open and repentant heart.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “No backspace buttons, no delete keys. The final product of our lives will be submitted to the Omniscient Judge of the Universe to determine whether it’s acceptable. He will compare our work to the required standard – flawless perfection.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “When I first encountered the One who will judge the final manuscript of my life, the pages were full of mistakes I had tried to fix. He looked at the mess I’d made of what He had created and offered the only guarantee to correct it. @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus didn’t just cover up the dark splotches of my failed efforts and fill the empty holes in my life. He gave me a brand new page with no typos, no misspellings, no incomplete sentences, and no sinful, senseless foolishness.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “There’s no mistake about it. Jesus lives to transform painfully chaotic stories like mine into prize-winning masterpieces – and what He’s done for me, He’ll do for anyone who comes to Him in faith with an open and repentant heart.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”
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© 2022 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
Being a writer myself, this analogy spoke loudly and resoundingly to my heart, Ron. I must admit, I love that delete key, too; and I have plenty of not-so-fun recollections of having to deal with typewriters, both in school and at work in the “dark ages.” So very grateful that Jesus gives me a fresh sheet of paper each day to continue my life’s work without fear of failure or disappointment because of His gracious gift of forgiveness. One could say, we are new every morning!
In spite of the multitude of things about this brave new world that drive us nuts, some are a refreshing blessing aren’t they, Martha? It sure makes the writing that both of us feel compelled to do easier. I do love the awareness that He has made a way to obliterate all my foolish mistakes and those intentionally rebellious things I’ve done and regretted later. I think we’ll all be overwhelmed when we finally see how much territory His forgiveness had to cover–even our selfish thoughts are being recorded. No wonder the gratitude will be overwhelming and praise will be thunderous. They tell me that in this current high tech world nothing is really deleted–not so with the world where our Father rules. God bless you for brightening our day again and sending us another reminder of what a faithful part of our spiritual family you are.
So glad our Lord didn’t push the delete key with me, but instead saved me for eternity and amen
Now there’s another great perspective I hadn’t even considered! Thank you, Terry, and God bless you for taking the time to pass along this additional encouraging and inspiring insight.
Brother, I’m afraid I would been the one smiling and shouting “Come on!” as you shared in my church. So enjoyed the humor, wit, and wisdom you brought to this piece. I remember when cut and paste to make a presentation slide literally meant cutting with scissors and pasting graphics and phrases together on a slide transparency and rubber cement. And who among us can’t remember the smell of duplicating fluid? Great thoughts to consider that when my life is replayed before me, Christ Jesus will lean over to His dad and say “Paid In Full, I made him flawless Abba.” God’s blessings sir.
I had a fun time remembering those things with you, J.D. There are certainly some things about “the good old days” that I’m happy to leave behind. I felt like I had arrived in the high tech world when I got my first overhead projector. We were going to be a church. on the cutting edge. It was a bit disappointing that it didn’t instantly cause thousands of people to come running down the aisle to give their lives to Jesus. Turns out that apparently the Holy Spirit wasn’t all that impressed with my ultra modern communication mechanism. Not that contrivances like that are bad things, but I never got colored slides from Heaven or anything else that would take the place of old fashioned stuff like prayer and faithful study of the Word of God. That’s kind of comforting, isn’t it, Brother? The power has never been in the thing we hold in our hands. It’s the One who lives in our heart. God bless you for sending us another heartwarming smile and making the world feel like a better place. Our prayers continue for you and your Mrs. Diane and we’re trusting God that that the paths ahead lead to sessions of praise.