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The Shepherd's Crook

By David Brandt Berg - September, 1971
The shepherd's crook

We were riding the underground late one night (or the tube--that's "London" for subway) in an almost empty car, when suddenly this very strange man sat down directly in front of us, face to face and knee to knee, eyeing us oddly. We had noticed him looking at us in the Station rather peculiarly several times before boarding, and had gotten some very unpleasant vibes from him. I felt that he had a familiar spirit, and was bent on annoying us--and my discernment soon proved true. With all the other places there were to sit in an almost empty train, he had chosen our car, and the seat directly in front of and facing us!--And if you're familiar with the small, quiet London subway cars, this meant literally knee to knee.

As all labour in England, a highly socialized country, the Tube operators are thoroughly unionized and very touchy about their hours, and have been known to walk off the job with the train still far from its terminal, leaving a trainful of people sitting helplessly with nothing left to do but catch a cab, just because it was a few minutes past midnight--as was apparently the case this night--of all times!--With Mr. Spook sitting eyeball to eyeball with us, leering at us tauntingly, while the foreman was trying to find another operator who would be willing to take the train on in.

So there we sat, glaring at each other, with our noses hardly two feet apart, on this nearly empty train in a deserted Station, awaiting we knew not what, for what seemed an eternity of time, with this Dicken's Fagan character sitting there grinning at us like a Cheshire cat--but looking more like the Mad Hatter, directly out of Alice in Wonderland.

--And this subterranean denizen of the deep, now trying to hypnotize me, was of just such a variety! To prove his powers, he startlingly blurted out with,

"You're a teacher, aren't you?"

If he hadn't looked so other-worldly, I might have thought he was some detective on my trail--but he had me quite convinced the Devil was certainly on my trail, which didn't make me feel any better! So a little surprised, I answered,

"Why, yes I am. How did you know?"

"I'm a psychologist", he laughed diabolically, sending the chills up our spines.

We thought of witnessing to him, although it struck us as absurd, like trying to convert the Devil, so we sat there nearly stunned in almost deafening silence--and we were sure that Satan was up to something, we knew not what--but certainly didn't feel like hanging around to find out much longer! At the same time we didn't care to turn tail and flee, because that's when a dog usually bites you--but if you stand your ground and look him in the eye, and resist him in Jesus' Name, you can usually hold him at bay.

So I quickly shot a little telegram to the Lord for instructions in this very unusual situation, the like of which I'd never quite run up against before, and, of course, I got an immediate answer--but a very surprising one, at that! My attention was immediately drawn to the hooked handle of my umbrella which I held in my hands, standing point down on the floor, directly between me and this devil--and it came to me that it was similar to a shepherd's crook, or staff, which was sometimes used in ages past as an exorcist's symbol--a rod of authority, symbolising the power of the Great Shepherd and His Staff, to resist and bind the Devil, and drive away evil. Apparently when coupled with faith and the Name of Jesus, it had done the trick--for at this moment I was impressed to look him straight in the eye, raise the umbrella a couple inches from the floor, with both hands, then bring it down with a firm, sharp thud, between me and him, with a silent exorcist's prayer on my heart: "Resist the Enemy, and he will flee from you".

With that look and prayer, and at the sound of the thud of my improvised shepherd's staff, our tormentor's grin faded. He grew pale, rose hastily from his seat, and dashed out of the car, as though the Hounds of Heaven were on his trail! It worked!--Or at least God worked, and used this simple symbolic device to emphasize the point!--And we were thrilled at the silent power of God, even when no words are spoken aloud!

Some of you remember that I used to carry a cane around the ranch--mostly for the sake of beating off any likely varmints, rattlers, or unfriendly pests--and sometimes jokingly referred to it as the "rod of my authority" or the "scepter of the King". I understand the Pope carried one to symbolize his power. But I'll tell you, that night is symbolised the power of God to me and helped to do the trick to get rid of that pest.--And since then, I've seldom failed to carry either an umbrella or a cane with me wherever I go, just in case I should meet the Devil face to face again!--It just might come in handy. Now you may count this as weird story, but we know it's true, because it happened to us, and thrilled us with the faithfulness and ingenuity of the Lord! I was also reminded of how Moses used his staff to confound the magicians of Egypt, casting it upon the ground, so that God turned it into a serpent which devoured all of theirs! Also how God had Moses use the Brazen Serpent in the Wilderness--the hated symbol of evil placed upon a pole--to stay a terrible plague amongst the Children of Israel, saying that they should "look and live" and be healed!--And later, Jesus Himself said, "As Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have Eternal Life." This astounding illustration of Christ Himself immediately precedes the most familiar verse in the Bible--John 3:16--but is probably one of the most little-known and understood passages in the whole Scripture! Why should the Lord use a Serpent--symbol of evil and the picture of Satan--as an illustration of His own Power in the Wilderness, and His final sacrifice on the Cross? It was certainly a test of their faith, wasn't it, and certainly Christ's identification with common criminals in His Death--the lowest of the low--was a test of the faith of those who had looked unto Him for Messiahship, and an earthly Kingdom! God does some things to humble you, and sometimes later repeats them to see if you're still humble!

Sometimes I think God does far-out and unorthodox, unconventional, untraditional, and very revolutionary, as well as seemingly illegal things, just to test our faith and see if we'll still believe, no matter what like Job did!

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International


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James Arendt
James Arendt

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