John Cook – Special Meeting

Isaiah 41:14, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob.” How would you feel if someone called you a worm? In one sense, you could accept that as a compliment. A worm is one of the most insignificant things in the earth, but also one of the most useful. It lives in the earth, yet there is no earth clinging to it. We also live and work in the earth, whatever our occupation. Are we like the worm? Is there no earth clinging to us? This is what God meant and intended for His people to be. Abraham walked through the land but he did not take any of the land with him. He was just as clean when he got through the land as when he entered it. That is kind of a testimony the Lord desires of His people. If we have it, He is satisfied. If not, He is disappointed.


There are other good things about the worm. It keeps itself out of sight. It goes into sour land and makes it sweet; it works until it has sweetened it. The sour land does not make the worm sour! We are constantly in contact with sour people. Does our contact make us sour? During my first year in the work, in the North of England, a young couple came to our meetings. The young man professed, but his wife did not. She made it very hard for him. She would hide his clothes, and do everything she could to hinder him from getting to the meetings. He never got aggravated. He kept up the sweetness while she kept up the bitterness. Finally she broke down and said, “I can’t hold out any longer.” He had sweetened the sour land.


We may say that some people are cranky and we cannot do a thing with them. The worm isn’t like that. The worm gets into the land that is very poor, and he keeps working until it has enriched that land. It is our responsibility and privilege to sweeten the sour land around us. You may contact some people and say that they are poor material. How do you know? Maybe all they need is for someone to be doing for them what the worm does. Someone to put into them something that will enrich them.


What is it that makes it possible for the worm to live in the earth without the earth clinging to it? The worm has something in it that rejects the earth. It is what we have in us, also, that counts. If we have that something in us, we will be able to do something with the world that is around us, without the world affecting us. Sometimes we look on people, and we see the earth sticking to them. It worries us, because we know that there is something lacking within them.


Supposing you step on a worm by accident. Would it bite or sting you? No, it would try to get out of your way as fast as possible. There are times when people might step on you. What effect does this have on you? Do you give them a stinging reply? If you do, you are not qualified to be a worm. If we are not qualified in this sense of the word, we are failing in the purpose God has intended for us. We are failing to fulfill the mission as planned for us. Our Master, when He was reviled, reviled no again. To revile is to speak in a cutting way to a person. He did not give a cutting reply. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, but He opened not His mouth.


Jacob did not always have the testimony of being a worm. His name suggests that he was a supplanter. He wanted to get the best of everything, and of everyone. There was a time when a definite change came into his life. Genesis 32:24-32 tells us of the time when Jacob wrestled this thing out. You may think you have a hard nature. Perhaps so. If you had no other battle to fight, only with that which is within you, you have enough. Wherever we go we have to battle against our own nature. Jacob gained a real victory here.


“My soul cleaveth unto the dust,” Psalms 119:25. The word cleave means to cling; to stick like glue. “Ye that did cleave unto the Lord are alive every one of you this day,” Deuteronomy 4:4. By nature we all have a tendency to cleave unto the dust, and there is a tendency for the dust to stick to us. How nice when God can change this, as He did in Jacob’s case, and that a person can from then on cleave unto the Lord.


Jacob’s name also changed at this time, to Israel, which means a prince of God. A person who belongs to the ruling class. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city,” Proverbs 16:32. You consider a man to be a great general when he has the wisdom and might to take a city, but he that ruleth his own spirit is greater than that. This one thing is necessary, if we are to be counted in with the ruling class. You read of the time when Abraham returned from the slaughter of the kings. He ruled over the things that otherwise would have destroyed him. If we don’t face some things up, those things will face us up. It is always nice to look on those who have returned from the “slaughter of the kings.” They faced the issue and gained the victory.


Jacob’s name was changed, but you read of something else being changed also. His walk. The angel touched the hollow of his thigh and it was out of joint. The children of Israel were not to eat of the sinew that shrank. There is a tendency to feed on the things that would cause us to shrink from the touch of God upon our lives. We look back upon some times when we almost failed. What were they? The times that we had fed on the things that caused us to shrink. After Jacob’s walk had changed, the world became a better place because of his being in it. He was then like the worm. Perhaps it would be wise to ask ourselves the question, is the world a better place because we are in it? This is what God is anxious to see. He wants us to enrich the world around us, instead of the world influencing us.


Young people have to watch the world. It is a constant enemy. It could easily influence a young life into doing something that would spoil their entire future. Old people have to watch the world, also. It could easily influence them into doing something that would wreck their past. That would spoil a good testimony that we have been years in building up. A brother once said, “I am an old man, but not so old that I could still do something that would wreck my testimony.” We all want to leave a good testimony. We would not want to be found hating ourselves at the setting of life’s sun. We want to leave behind a testimony that would be a good influence after we are gone.