I just finished listening to “The Gift of a Crooked Stick: The Life of William Cowper” Part 1 & Part 2 (source) from Dr. Bryan Chapell & the Living Christ Today podcast. Wonderfully done, thought-provoking, meditative, sad, & redemptive. I encourage you to listen. Here’s my transcript of the closing words from Bryan Chapell in Part 2…
What we are, what we shall be, is only a result not of what’s in our hands to do, what we can hold on to, what we can claim, but the sole fact that in our weakness, in our lowliness, in our being despicable, Christ alone is all in all. He is our only righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
What that means for you, and for me I suppose, is that when I look at somebody with the frailties and the failures of William Cowper, I begin to rejoice in this: If God could use such a feeble man, if God could use such a crooked stick to draw such wonderfully straight and beautiful lines, then He can use me and you. Despite our frailty and our weakness and our difficulties. I look at William Cowper and I recognize you don’t have to have a great reputation or even a great faith, not a spotless record or a shining reputation, not a great past, not even a great future, to be greatly used. William Cowper tells me that the instruments of God’s plan do not have to be well suited to that plan to be well used in it. And when I face my failures, when I know I have not done what I should as I should, even find myself despicable, I can say, “But God can still use you. After all, He used William Cowper.” It really is a surprising grace, in the worst of spots, the place we least expect it, that God would use such a one. In God’s use of this desparing poet, I just learn there’s hope for my use by God.
For more on William Cowper: John Piper’s 1992 Pastor’s Conference biography, Wikipedia, Poets.org.