When I was in the 5th Grade, my teacher, Miss Graham had the idea in her mind that writing legibly should be an ability all of her students should possess. And writing in cursive was her tool of choice, when she talked of legibility. It seems crazy to me now, but I can still remember the sentence Miss Graham assigned to us in class, during our cursive practice time. Over and over, we were required to write a particular sentence to practice our cursive penmanship. That sentence is emblazoned on my memory, even after all these years. And here is the sentence:
“This is a sample of the handwriting of Kenny Jones, while attending Marshall School and practicing the Zaner-Bloser method.”
I had no idea what the Zaner-Bloser method was, back then, that it was a specific style of writing in cursive. No, back then I didn’t know what it was, but I did know I had to write those words, and that sentence over and over again, during our cursive practice time in class every day. Miss Graham said, “Look at the examples of letters of the alphabet written above the blackboard, and try to make your cursive letters look like the ones you see.” I’m not sure if it was Zaner or Bloser who wrote those perfect cursive letters on the green cards posted above our blackboard. But those letters were the example we were supposed to follow.
In all honesty, I gave cursive writing a reasonable effort. I practiced like I was supposed to. In fact, for the first several weeks of the 5th grade, I thought all we were doing was practicing our handwriting. But one day, Miss Graham said, “Pass your papers with your sentences to the front. I’ll be grading them.” Say what? Grade them? We were gonna be graded on our handwriting? Who knew that on our report card in the 5th grade, one of the things we received was a grade in was … penmanship.
Like dutiful soldiers obeying orders, every few weeks during our practice time, we would be required to pass our sentences to the front, knowing that our penmanship was going to be graded and evaluated. Miss Graham would give a penmanship grade that reflected how nearly our handwriting matched the upper and lower case example of every letter in the entire alphabet; an alphabet that was posted just above the chalkboard in our class.
I was thinking about penmanship just the other day, and my time in 5th Grade with Miss Graham, and how hard I worked trying to write those letters in cursive, knowing I was gonna receive a grade on my report card. No matter how much I practiced my handwriting, it never came close to matching the sample alphabet above the blackboard. Those letters above our blackboard were perfect. My penmanship? Not so much.
I wonder what God’s handwriting looked like? When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He displayed His PERFECT penmanship, with Ten sentences, not written above some erasable blackboard, but etched on stone tablets. He took His finger and wrote down The Law of God. Perfect penmanship.
I think my favorite example of God’s penmanship occurred the day the Pharisees caught a woman in the act of adultery in John, chapter 8. Those Pharisees were supposed to be experts in the Law of God. They had discovered a woman whose life did not match the letter of the law. Time for a grade. Time for a report card from the One Who Claimed to be God.
And so, I believe The Master Teacher, God in the Flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ, in essence told those Pharisees to pass their lives to the front of the class. Let’s see how perfect their penmanship of living really was. Jesus gave the class a lesson in penmanship, alright. Perfect letters written in sand by the very finger of God. No wonder those Pharisees walked away, one by one. The handwriting of their lives looked nothing like the Law of God they were supposedly copying.
The truth is: No one’s penmanship looks like God’s perfection. That’s why we need Jesus, who helps us every day as we practice living out His perfect plan. There is no better method. There is no better way of living than … Jesus.