Monday, January 24, 2011

"What Is That In Your Hand?"

Most of us are familiar with the events recorded in Exodus, chapters 3 and 4, where an octogenarian comes to a personal encounter with Almighty God.

For forty years this man had known the privilege of being raised in the halls of power. Born into a family of slaves, this adopted Prince of Egypt, had been known as "The Son of Pharaoh's Daughter". Then, after seeing an Egyptian task master brutally beat one of his enslaved kinsman, he exacted revenge, killing the attacker and hiding his body in the sand. Later, when he learned that his actions had been witnessed by others, he fled to the Arabian desert as a fugitive from justice.

The next forty years of his life were spent in obscurity, as he married, raised a family, and served in the father in law's family business. He was a shepherd in the desert. Not exactly an easy life, but one in which Moses had put down roots. Much like most of us, he had developed his own "comfort zone" as he lived out the days of his life, going through the regular routine.

Then he was suddenly called into God's presence - and was commissioned to perform the unthinkable.

The voice speaking to him from a burning bush gave him an incredible set of marching orders. He offered every excuse that he could come up with. Still, God pressed him to be obedient to His calling. A sovereign God, who revealed Himself as "I AM" answered each excuse with the simple promise that He would be with Moses. He warned Moses in advance, that his attempts would at first seem futile, but that "The Self Existent One" would be with him. God would use him to bring about one of the most unlikely events in human history - the emancipation of nearly two million slaves - and lead them on a forty year journey to a land that had been promised to their progenitor, roughly 500 years earlier.

One of the most intriguing parts of this exchange comes in Exodus 4:1-2. It reads, "Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.' " So the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod."

God demonstrated to Moses that He, the great "I AM", would use something as simple and as ordinary as a rugged shepherd's walking stick to help bring about a miracle. The excuses ceased, and Moses humbly confessed to God his own inability. Again, God promised the power of His presence, and Moses took a step of faith and yielded himself to the task that God had given him.

Then a most interesting transformation takes place. If one is not careful, it can easily me overlooked in the narrative. Notice verse 20: "Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand."

Did you catch that?

A simple shepherd's staff in Moses' hand, (verse 2) becomes "The Rod of God" (verse 20). The remainder of the Pentateuch narrative reveals great wonders done with that rod.

A dead piece of wood in the hand of an obedient man, can be a powerful tool.

Now, obviously, you and I are not Moses. Nor, is it likely that we will ever be called to a task of such monumental and historic proportions. But the same "I AM" who called Moses into service, seeks such a relationship with each of us. He is always at work, and He seeks men and women of all ages and all walks of life to partner with Him in the work. He seems to care less about our limited abilities, and more about our AVAILABILITY.

Are you available? Are you willing to use the resources He has given you for His purposes?

What is in your hand?

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