When we are down, way down low,
When we’ve received that crushing blow,
One direction we must continually look,
We must look up by hook or by crook.
The Shepherd’s staff is both the image and very manifestation of the shepherd’s craft in the tending of his or her flock. The shepherd uses the staff to guide the sheep in the way they should go and to retrieve lost and fallen sheep by the use of the hook.
God is interested in us to a point beyond our comprehension. God can never not be interested in our lives. Therefore, when we have received that crushing blow, when we have been taken down far below where we’ve ever been, God is there, and it’s his role to retrieve us by his Shepherd’s hook.
In the same way special air service troops are trained through a method of deconstructing them psychologically so they may be reconstructed in the military way. This may sound overly harsh. But if we study Job we find that is what God allowed Job to go through; the deconstruction and reconstruction process. He became a more righteous and a more compassionate man as a result.
This is why we can take great heart in the experience of being taken down so low that we literally have no hope left; no hope but God.
At this point we are so bereft of any reason for our existence we may think quickly of ending it all. The greatest irony as far as East is to the West is the lower we go, the greater God’s plans are to use us for his Kingdom purposes.
Not only does God not waste these rock bottom experiences, he turns them to our benefit, and to the Kingdom’s benefit, as we later empower others’ lives at the right time and in the right way.
This is why we can praise God when the only way to go is up.
The best is literally yet to come, and this needs to be our hope; a contrived hope, perhaps. We are either our greatest own enemy or our greatest own ally. It’s always our choice.
If we cooperate with what the Spirit of God is trying to do in us – no matter how humiliating it seems – the Spirit of God will work through us and many others will ultimately benefit. But we must first allow the Spirit of God to work within us to forge a competent character that will withstand many a test and challenge in the future.
If we are already deep down low, the deconstruction process is well under way. Let us unlearn all things that hinder love, joy, and peace. And let us begin embracing those things that build others up, that give to others, and that bless others.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.