God uses Crooked Sticks — Even in the Bush of Niger

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than me, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:25

If you are pretty close to perfect – stop reading — I’m not talking to you, because you’re too proud for God to use anyway. Go somewhere else and read someone who knows something in line with your great wisdom and might.

If you feel incompetent, impotent, insufficient, incapable, unable, disappointed, impoverished, unlearned, unwell, broke, unsure, exhausted, and imperfect — you are the perfect person for God to use!
That’s me! I feel like a dummy most of the time!

Corrie Ten Boom said that she felt like her middle name was “Blunder”. She went on to say in her book, In my Father’s House,

“God can give a straight blow with a crooked stick. He blesses in spite of our blunders.” p 228

Well, welcome home, Corrie — I’m a crooked stick too! In fact, I was thinking of all the crooked sticks in the Bible, here are a few:

Moses – unable to speak, unconfident
Paul – unable to forget his past, unhealed from his illness, exhausted
David – distracted, embarrassing to his wife, exhausted when he ran from Saul, unable to discipline his sons, incompetent as judge when Absolom began to usupr his power
Abel – unable to please his brother
Abraham and Zechariah – impotent
Barnabus – incapable of leaving a friend behind
Esther – unsure of her identity
Jacob – untruthful
Most of the apostles – unlearned, disloyal, unbelieving
Peter – disloyal, disheartened, disenchanted
James & Jude, the brothers of Jesus – unbelieving, unable to accept their brother as the Christ (until after his resurrection)
John Mark – incompetent on his first journey
Ruth – exhausted, lonely, impoverished
Nathan – unsure of how to confront the king
Samuel – Dissapointed in Saul
Naoimi – unable to save her sons and husband from death and incapable of being comforted
Sarah – Unable to believe God
Hannah – unable to keep her emotions under control in church
Abigail – married to an ungrateful, unwise man

How about some people in History? There are some very crooked sticks that God used for great things in history:

Abe Lincoln – mentally unstable, incompetent as postmaster, unelectable in 28 elections (only won president,)
FDR – unable to walk
Winston Churchill – unable to learn Latin (he wrote “1.” on a test — that was it), unwell (his shoulder constantly dislocated), disloyal to his original political party
Billy Graham – disloyal to his original church, he became a Southern Baptist – he went to three colleges before finally graduating from Wheaton, unwell with Parkinsons — he still preaches anyway

Just some crooked sticks.

Well, what’s your excuse? It seems to me the only ones who have an excuse are those who are perfect. There are a lot of wise, well, healthy, puffed up Pharisees out there who know how to live their lives and tell everyone else how to live as well — but not me. I’m a crooked stick! I think this verse was written for me by a famouse “crooked stick,” Paul:

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

The missionaries to the Tuareg are asking for a specific prayer for the people of Niger as they are concerned that the famine will be worse this year. In their e-mail yesterday, they said:

We have realized in our short time back here that the famine here in Niger will likely be much worse this year than it was last year. People are already suffering. Be in prayer as to how our team should be involved this year in showing God’s love to our people here by helping in meeting these needs.

Meanwhile, I’ve come across a young lady who has been serving as a translator for an SBC medical team in Niger. Her name is Emily Taylor and she has a beautiful blog she wrote today about the people of Niger. First of all, she admits that she too felt like a crooked stick today (not in so many words):

I was so frustrated when I couldn’t communicate directly with the people. Here in Niamey, I can communicate in French with MOST people, but there (out away from the city…the bush), it was hard to find someone who could translate from my french to Zarma. In fact, it was almost comical to see each phrase communicated go from English (doctor) to French (me) then to Zarma (another translator), then finally the patient could understand and respond, then the response would have to go back through all of the channels again.

But Emily’s day today wasn’t a waste, here was her conclusion:

Today as I was holding a pantless, underwearless sick little boy who was completely lethargic, he just melted into my arms as I just hugged him…but I was overwhelmed with the hurt of this boy who seemingly had no hope for the future (with the 2nd highest infant mortality rate in the world) as he was already starting off on a bad foot. Even if he does live to adulthood, the chances of him having an education and job are slim… and with the way this country is going, the chances of him having a country that is improved at all economically from the Niger of today are very slim too… But then it was as if the Lord came down and sat with me and this boy, and with tears running down my face he said to me, “But Emily, I can give this boy a future…I can pull him out of his circumstances…I can make Him strong through his circumstances… This problem is NOT too big for me…”

And so I will rest in that promise as I obey the Lord in being here right now. I know that I can’t change a thing in eternity… I can just obey… And God can change that little boy, these people here in Niger, and even this country…

Emily asked us to pray as follows:

Continue to pray for these hurting people…that the Lord would send people here to help them…that they would understand the gospel and want the Lord for themselves… Pray for my future ministry as I am still in the middle of figuring out exactly what that might look like and where the Lord wants me to go… This will be a great month of trusting in the Lord as He starts me out in this new direction…

Crooked sticks unite with prayers that go straight to the heart of God. As God told Emily

God can give us a future…He can pull us out of our circumstances…He can make us strong through our circumstances…This problem is NOT to big for God!

It is the prayers of the humble that our God hears — not the prayers of the proud. (James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “ God resists the proud,But gives grace to the humble.”) We need more incompetents to get busy and watch God use their little bit for His Big Bit! “I can do all things through CHrist who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13

Dear Lord, today I am thankful that you can use me. I ask that I am willing and humble and malleable in your hands. Forgive me when I get overproud and overextended doing things you did not intend. Lord, I appreciate that you use me when I am most weak to do the greatest of work. Lord, please help us reach the people of Niger. Please be with the missionaries serving there and with Emily. Bless her and keep her today as she wants to speak Zarma. Give her the ability to learn that language quickly. Lord, please send more people to Niger and let them understand and hunger for the gospel. Guide Emily and reveal to her Your will — one step at a time. Give her trust and faith. Lord, guide and keep us and call us to pray more fervently now than ever before. Keep us undistracted and focused. Help us do your will! I love you, Jesus. In Jesus name. Amen.

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