Crooked sticks and straight lines – Hope 103.2

Crooked sticks and straight lines

By David ReayWednesday 16 Oct 2013LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Mark 14:66-72

66 Meanwhile,Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said,”You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”

68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said,and he went out into the entryway. Just then,a rooster crowed.

69 When the servant girl saw him standing there,she began telling the others,”This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again.

A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said,”You must be one of them,because you are a Galilean.”

71 Peter swore,”A curse on me if I’m lying-I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.

Suddenly,Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice,you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept. (NLT)

Peter’s failure to be loyal to Jesus was one of the more spectacular of many failures recorded in Scripture. He had boasted about not failing Jesus and he did it three times in short sequence. We know this sad episode had a good outcome. Jesus forgave Peter who went on to be a loyal and fruitful leader of the early church.

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It seems Jesus is well able to use failures. Just as well: fallible human beings are the only types he has at hand. In the words of Ignatius of Loyola,God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines. It is good to remember this whenever we feel we have had one chance too many to serve God,whenever we feel we are on our last opportunity,whenever we feel God must be tiring of us and moving on to people who don’t fail quite as much.

None of us wants to fail. When we do,sorrow and repentance are appropriate. We don’t take it lightly. But we do remember that Jesus has taken it all on himself and so frees us of the burden of bearing it ourselves. In the light of that,we also remember that failure is not the worst thing that can happen to us: being utterly defeated by it is the really worst thing.

David Reay