I have not been able to confirm whether this narrative reports an actual event or not. I do know that when I heard it recounted by a mission president to a group of newly baptized members high in the mountains of Lesotho, they identified well with the story.
Once upon a time a new Christian was just about to be baptized. He had given his heart to Jesus, his life had changed, and his former friends were furious. One of them determined to do anything he could to get him somehow to come back to his old ways.
The friend knew that the new member’s favorite food used to be crow. He liked it boiled, baked, fried; he just loved crow. But now he didn’t eat it anymore. He didn’t hunt crows. And he didn’t go to the bar with the guys after a good day’s hunt. So the friend came up with a plan, one he was certain would work.
It was baptism day, and the new convert was on his way to the baptism joyfully humming various hymns to himself as he walked along. His friend gleefully sneaked along in the bushes not far away until he quietly slipped ahead and around a corner where the candidate had to pass. He pulled a fat, beautiful crow out of his coat and dropped it by the edge of the road. Then he slipped back into the bushes to hide.
The new member came humming and singing along the road. He rounded the corner, saw the crow, and kept on going without even a backward glance or a pause in his singing. But in his mind he thought, Look how God has changed me. I used to like those things.
The friend was disappointed but not discouraged. He followed along in the bushes, watched the baptism from the bushes, and decided he would try again on the way home.
After the baptism, the new member was happily walking along with his new church family. They were all talking, singing, and praising God.
All is ours because He knows that we need help.
The friend had to be really careful this time. But he rushed on ahead in the bushes and bravely dropped the crow again. This time the new member glanced twice at it and kept going. In his mind he thought, This is strange. I never could get those things before, and now that I don’t eat them I have seen two real beauties.
The friend in the bushes noticed the second glance and quietly slapped his knee. “I will do it again. I’m going to get him yet.”
Sure enough, as he rounded the next corner, there was another fat crow. This time the new convert poked at it with his foot. His salivary glands were working now. He thought, Crow sure did taste good. I wonder why God says they are unclean, anyway?
He started to lag behind the group. The next time he saw a fat crow by the road, he stopped, looked both ways, and quickly picked it up and put it under his coat. His face flushed, he was nervous. Suddenly his friend came out of the woods grinning from ear to ear.
My crow story may disgust you much more than it amuses you, since you have never thought of eating fat crows as either a privilege or even a necessity. Nevertheless, some other bird, a prettier one for sure, may sing your song. I know, too, that even more faithfully than that friend sneaking in the bushes, Satan is doing everything he can to get you to fall since your baptism. Peter calls him a roaring lion going around looking for whomever he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could guarantee that suddenly everything will be easy for us until Jesus comes? I wouldn’t mind such a guarantee myself. But you and I both know that it will not be. Commenting on earth’s most exciting day for Christianity since Jesus ascended to heaven, Ellen White wrote: “Those who at Pentecost were endued with power from on high were not thereby freed from further temptation and trial. As they witnessed for truth and righteousness they were repeatedly assailed by the enemy of all truth, who sought to rob them of their Christian experience.”* And it’s no different for us. I’m no prophet. But humanity’s sad experience is that humans fail. That means us. Falling is now ordinary for humans. Mistakes will be made. We will sin. Then what?
When a toddler falls, do you turn away and yell, “Don’t you ever do that again. Why, I’m so embarrassed. I won’t have a child who can’t stand up and walk properly. If you can’t walk, then don’t bother trying anymore!”
Is that how it is with you? I sincerely doubt it. And that isn’t the way it is with God, either. Besides His assurance that He will never leave us alone to the end of everything (Matt. 28:20) is His wonderfully thoughtful promise just for us when we fail: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
Whatever else we may know about Him, remember that our God is our help (Ps. 46:1). The insults and agonies of Christ’s incarnation and passion, His ongoing intercession, the unwavering company of the Spirit our Comforter, the might and glory of angels that excel in strength, and the testimony of His Word—all of these are ours because He knows that we need help. The splendors and glories of the place Jesus has gone to prepare for us are their own proof that He means to see us through and take us there.
Hear Him speaking: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). What a question! What an assurance! What a Father! What a God! Our God is our help.
And what of us, privileged as we are? Shouldn’t we do just as much as we can to help each other? That sneaking enemy called friend is dropping all the fat crows he can on our road, and on our friend’s road too. So the next time you see one of your sisters or brothers, new or old, eyeing a fat crow, try distracting them from crows by attracting their eyes back to Jesus.
Better still: try keeping them on pace so that they don’t fall behind and fall out. It’s so much better than running around telling everyone what you saw. God is our help. We know the answer to Cain’s question: we are each other’s keepers (Gen. 4:9). Let’s keep our fellow believers from the crows. Leave those crows behind on the road.
* Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. 49.
At the time of writing this, Homer Trecartin was president of the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists.