What do you have in your hand?

I hate that question.  It’s not original with me, though, and it wasn’t thought of by somebody’s mother catching them in the cookie jar.  In Exodus 3, God appears to Moses in the course of his daily life, when he’s out in the wilderness tending his father-in-law’s sheep.  Not doing anything fancy-making a living, doing life, and doing what’s in front of him, hiding out ’cause he screwed up really bad in Egypt and had to leave town….not necessarily prime leadership material in most of our eyes.  Just a working guy trying to get it right.  Then God shows up.  God got Moses’s attention with a burning bush that didn’t burn up, but then He broke the news–“I have plans for you to help be part of the solution!”  (Don’t know what went through his mind-maybe “Been there, done that-really really didn’t work!” (Exodus 2).  I don’t know about you, but I don’t always view an invitation to get involved as good news!

I like Moses, especially at this stage, even though he’s looking at a burning bush, he’s trying to be reasonable and explains to God some of the reasons why he is definitely has the wrong guy. They discussed this for a while, but as Moses kept arguing, they got to what, for me, has been the punch line…Moses protested that it would never work, trying to turn him into a leader, and God asked, “What do you have in your hand?”  If you haven’t read it, or you’re curious, read the rest of the chapter (better yet, the whole book), and see that God took the simple shepherd’s staff that Moses had….a tool of his trade, something easily overlooked if you’re trying to do something great, and did amazing things with it (and with Moses’s crazy acts of obedience).

What gets me about this is that God didn’t ask him for something he didn’t already have.  He didn’t say to submit a proposal,  do a fundraiser, be better looking, be in better shape, be smarter, be better educated, more connected, more articulate (he and God get into that discussion a little later), pray more, have more faith, or do anything else except trust Him, and be obedient with what he already had been given. That’s scary stuff.  It takes away all my excuses and exit strategies when I have a task I’m given and think there’s been a mistake–it should have been given to someone more capable or more whatever (fill in the blank with your own personal favorite).

I try to forget about this story sometimes.  It screws up my escape strategy. It reminds me God’s not asking for what I don’t have, and that He’s more interested in obedience and trusting Him to make something useful out of what He’s already given me than in a lot of other things.  The speaker at church last Sunday used a quote from Mother Theresa “God’s not after our success, He’s after our faithfulness.” That seems to say it all.

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