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Crooked Sticks
Photo: Denis Baharew
Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks) when it feels like nothing goes right? Times when you feel all bent out of shape? In the thick of things it can be really hard to see how such crookedness can be a part of God’s plan, but it can. An old Gaelic saying nicely captures this idea.

“God strikes straight blows with crooked sticks”. 

When we stop and take a closer look at this proverb, several subtle truths become apparent:
  • It is God, not I, who decides that the stick is a suitable tool for His purpose.
  • God’s hand is big enough to grasp the stick.
  • In his hand the crooked stick becomes a useful tool.
  • The stick will HAVE impact as God brings it into contact with the object of His aim.
  • The stick will receive RECEIVE impact as God brings it into contact with the object of His aim.
  • God knows just how much impact the stick can have and how much it can receive without breaking.
  • The stick is not at all perfect. God’s aim is.
  • The stick has no power or purpose on its own.
  • The stick must be available in order for God to use it.
  • If the stick isn’t yielded to God’s grip, it could thwart His perfect plan.
Hmmm…  even a bad day, even feeling bent out of shape, doesn’t sound so useless in such a context.

When we’re late getting up, the kids are bickering, the dog throws up, the mini-van stalls and needs major repairs, or our spouse calls and says he/she will be home late… Even in those situations, we can be a crooked stick in God’s hand.  How?

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Notice that is says “good… for those that love God… those called according to his purpose.” Could it be that God is calling us to make ourselves available as “crooked sticks”? That he wants us to yield to His purpose, even when we are least perfect? Is that one way that He will work in our lives? I believe so.

Especially when life is tough, we “crooked sticks”, yielded into God’s hand, can be the tool that makes a difference. Yes, even on a bad day - in fact, especially on a bad day - it might be that you or I, are the specific “crooked stick” that God needs for this specific occasion. We might be the tool that leaves His imprint on an impressionable mind. The way we yield in His hand and respond to our bickering kids, the sick dog, the cantankerous van, the ornery neighbor, the rude clerk…. can make the difference between a straight blow and a blow that misses the mark; a clear impression or a muddled impression. For a moment, for a day, for a week, for a lifetime, let’s relax in His grip and watch the impressions that He makes.

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By Rene Ammundsen. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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