• Paul Coulter

The pen is mightier than the keyboard

Pondering what to write for an article in this week’s bulletin of the congregation I’m a member of, I stumbled upon something I never knew. Today is a special date. It is … [drumroll] … National Handwriting Day [fanfare].


Who knew that 23rd January is the day to celebrate the diversity and beauty of hand-written script? In my original profession, there wasn’t much to celebrate (apologies to fellow medics!) and things have not improved since I left it behind. Barring occasional signatures, I write with a keyboard, not a pen. The resulting letters are legible (even if not always rightly ordered!) and uniform (how boring!)


There’s something sad about this loss of individuality. I’m sure you’ll agree that hand-written letters connect with the heart in a special way. A person’s personality and passions are conveyed in their handwriting. The apostle Paul knew this. He made a habit of adding a handwritten greeting to his letters, the bulk of which were written down by scribes as he dictated (2 Thessalonians 3:17). Paul’s handwriting was the hallmark of his apostolic authority and the proof of his pastoral concern.

Wonderfully, God is a writer too. The Bible, in its entirety, is God’s Word, breathed out by Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Most of its words, however, were formed in the minds of their human writers. Historical narratives, wisdom sayings, epistles, songs and poems were written by people as the Spirit moved and guided them (2 Peter 1:21). A smaller percentage of Scripture’s words were given more directly. Moses and the prophets transcribed God’s words exactly as He declared them, heralded with a “Thus says the Lord”. Only three times do we read of God going further by communicating in writing without a human intermediary, each time using His finger to form words.


First, God wrote the ten commandments on tablets of stone (Exodus 32:16). In fact, He did it twice, graciously giving His laws a second time after the first set was, quite literally, broken (Exodus 34:1). Second, God put ‘the writing on the wall’ (the origin of the phrase) for King Belshazzar, declaring imminent judgement on his misspent life (Daniel 5:5). Third, the Lord Jesus stooped and wrote in the sand when a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him (John 8:6). In fact, in an echo of Exodus, He did so twice (John 8:8). We don’t know what words he wrote, but their impact was clear. Her accusers, their own sin exposed, melted away while Jesus sent her away, not condemned but commanded to sin no more.

God’s handwriting shows His personality and passion. A holy passion for truth, inscribed on stone tablets, exposing our sin. A righteous passion for justice, imprinted on a palace wall, revealing sin’s consequences. A loving passion for people, scribbled in the sand, showing our salvation and sending us out to live for Him.


You may not want to add National Handwriting Day to your crowded calendar but take a moment to celebrate God’s handwriting and, just maybe, pick up a pen to bless someone with yours.

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