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Inventor of Etch A Sketch Gave Us a Picture of Forgiveness

On January 16, 2013 André Cassagnes died in Paris at the age of eighty-six. The French-born inventor was in his early thirties when he created a plastic device with a glass screen on which children could draw by turning little knobs. Since the inside surface of the screen was coated with aluminum powder, moving the knobs resulted in drawing images on the screen as an unseen movable stylus scraped away the powder. By turning the device upside down and shaking it, the little black images would magically disappear. Cassagnes called his little invention "L'Ecran Magique," or "the magic screen."

The Ohio Art Company renamed Cassagnes's toy Etch A Sketch and began distributing it in the United States beginning in 1960. Since that time more than 100 million of the little laptop drawing machines have been sold allowing it to be named one of the top 100 toys of the 20th century. The Etch A Sketch has made its mark among other classics as the Duncan yo-yo, the Barbie doll, Silly Putty, and Mr. Potato Head.

It's unlikely that André Cassagnes had any idea the toy he created in his basement half a century ago would become so popular. It's also unlikely that he imagined his hand-held creation would provide Christians with such a powerful illustration of grace.

Like an Etch A Sketch, sin makes it mark on the screen of our lives. The evidence of our disobedience is indisputable. It's not a pretty picture. But when we trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the blotches of sin on the screen of our lives are erased and we are made like new.

Editor's Note: This illustration focuses on one aspect of the atonement—the power of Christ to cleanse us from sin. However, it does not show the great act of sacrificial love, the terrible cost of Calvary, borne by both the Father and the Son.

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