A crooked stick is not very useful for drawing. It keeps on making crooked lines and unwarranted mistakes which was not to be the case. This is true, especially if the person handling the stick is an ignoramus in art. However, the hands of an accomplished artist may make a difference.
On the same note, we are sticks, some crooked while some are straight. The ultimate expectation is that we be accomplished and perfected through the sanctifying power of truth. That we may become men and women of reliable and unquestionable character. Those who can be trusted with duty.
Nevertheless, the Church militant must have those of us struggling to be triumphant. Such are crooked sticks. They cannot be trusted to make reliable lines and dependable directions. They have defects of character which need transformation and revival of character. Outbursts of anger, disappointments, and proofs of unreliability often struggle for mastery.
God, however, is merciful. We are called by His name, and the worldlings judge the gospel by what they see in our character, deportment, and demeanour. For the sake of His own name that we bear, God oftentimes uses crooked sticks to draw a straight line. Our greatest danger is failing to give up the uncomely shape when touched by the divine hand.
This same struggle, the Israelites had after settling in the promised land. God wanted them to be set up high, as beacons of light, but their own inefficiency and moral lapse made it difficult to be used by God. How did He handle them?
“Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.”
[KJV Ezekiel 20:21-22]
The divine hand is in charge of God’s commission. The entire Godhead is involved in the work of fulfilling the appeal to evangelize the whole world. Through their effort, crooked sticks are employed in fruitful ventures of soul winning and revivals. Sinners are convicted, and the saints are comforted through their ministry.
Gospel workers are in some danger they should come out of; the danger of judging their character by the results of their efforts. They presume holiness and full surrender based on fruitful harvests that accompany their efforts. Is there danger in using the yardstick of fruitful ministry to judge character? I think there is all the danger in using such considerations to conclude on moral tone.
You see, we don’t know how the Spirit moves, convicting men of sin. How the selfsame Spirit reveals Jesus through the Word, Creating faith in Him. Some sinners have been in the valley of decision too long, trying to get themselves together. Our “Would you be free from the burden of sin?” in most cases proves the final blow that makes them accept that there is wonder-working power in the blood of Lamb.
We must learn an important lesson; that when people say yes to Jesus, that doesn’t mean that we are good people. Instead, it means that God is good and His character has won the troubled sinner. It does not necessarily reflect our character, but the character of God. God who so loved the world that He gave His only son to bring salvation to all men, God who will leave the ninety and nine who are safe in the shelter of the fold to look for one lost sheep, has attracted them to His fold. But if the gospel we are presenting, whose power is the power of God unto Salvation, doesn’t save us, then we are of all men doomed the most.
The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans is one of the most painful experiences in Christendom. The desperation that befell the sons of disobedience is unutterable. However, the most striking one for me is the itinerant preacher who perished in the ruins of the City.
After sounding the warning, we must be warned ourselves. After crying aloud, sparing not, and telling God’s people their sins, we must also put away our sins. God has used us and can use us to accomplish great works for the Kingdom. However, we must prove ourselves faithful too. This preacher’s peril in the city may not have alluded to sin or unfaithfulness. Maybe his work was done, and it was his time to rest in anticipation of the victorious morning. We have a better country for all victors, but we must strive to be warned by the same warning we are sounding.
“For seven years a man continued to go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, declaring the woes that were to come upon the city. By day and by night he chanted the wild dirge: “A voice from the east! a voice from the west! a voice from the four winds! a voice against Jerusalem and against the temple! a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides! a voice against the whole people!”—Milman, The History of the Jews, book 13. This strange being was imprisoned and scourged, but no complaint escaped his lips. To insult and abuse he answered only: “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” “woe, woe to the inhabitants thereof!” His warning cry ceased not until he was slain in the siege he had foretold.”—The Great Controversy P. 30
A crooked stick in the hand of God is a wonder-working power. However, there is no virtue in being crooked, and the crooked stick should better straighten up in the hands of God. The power of the gospel that we present to the sin-sick sin-soaked souls, and which we promise to be able to save them to the uttermost, should be the same one that presents us faultless before the father. But something is worrying me! God can use a crooked stick to draw straight lines, then throw it away! How important it is then, that we straighten up in the hand that is divine, and able to save all who come to Him?