The Chalk

by | Apr 11, 2020 | Great Commission, Witnessing

“The greatest works are done by the ones. The hundreds do not often do much, the companies never; it is the units, the single individuals, that are the power and the might” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon 1834-1892)

Do you remember the stuff you used to write with on the slate at school? Chalk. These days’ students use biro, felt pens and computer keyboards.

Have you ever been to the south coast of England? If not you may have seen pictures of it or can remember the wartime song “There’ll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover.” These white cliffs are composed of chalk. Chalk is formed by the shells of very tiny animals called ‘Foraminifera’, meaning ‘hole-bearers’. They are so called because their small shells are pierced with little holes. Thousands of years ago there were trillions of these little creatures in the sea. As they died their shells fell to the sea floor and formed a layer that gradually became thicker and thicker. Then followed an earthquake and pushed the layer upwards to form chalk cliffs.

These cliffs are being destroyed by another small shellfish called a ‘Piddock’. This creature can twist its shell rather like an awl or drill bit to make holes in the chalk. They attack the cliffs just above high water, and as the seas pound against the cliffs they are weakened and eventually collapse in a landslide. A naturalist, writing about Piddocks, said that Britain is an island because of the work of Piddocks. Britain was once joined to the continent of Europe, and over thousands of years Piddocks have destroyed the chalk cliffs to form the English Channel.

This piece of trivia does highlight what great things can be achieved by very tiny creatures, and how much can result from very little. It would have cost billions to excavate the English Channel, but the humble Piddock did it alone – ‘Brexit’ will complete the severence. And remember what it cost to build the ‘Chunnel’, the undersea rail tunnel that links England to the Continent.

The moral is plain, and centres around two thoughts. We may think that we are very little and insignificant in the scheme of things. Yet the small can do something, and do it well. Our little contribution to life is part of something far greater than we can understand. As Christians, the little we do to help others or to spread the Good News of Jesus, is but a small part of a mighty global plan. As Jesus said, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.” It starts in the street where we live.

At the day of judgement we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done (Thomas A Kempis (c.1380-1471).

Ron Clarke JP An e-mail from Kingborough, near Hobart, Tasmania, Australia  


The Chalk