What Is That In Your Hand?

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.'” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff”.

Moses – a man who had nothing to offer God but a stick he held in his hand and a pile of sand.

A man born into a nation that hated him.

Born to a Hebrew family during the reign of a ruthless Pharaoh in the nation of Egypt, Moses had a target on his back the moment he joined this earth. With nothing to offer God but a cry and a death sentence, Moses entered this world as the nation cried out:

ALL MALE HEBREW BABIES MUST BE KILLED.

Born at the hands of a nation that wanted him dead.

Riding on the faith of his mother and sister, the infant Hebrew child was spared the sword as his mother looked in faith to the God of Israel and sent Moses in a basket down a river, shrouded in prayer for the baby with no hope but that of God.

And so Moses found himself drawn into the hands of the daughter of Pharaoh, bathing in the river and filled with compassion for the child with no home. Wrapped in the Will of God, Moses was handed a second chance at life – a life covered in grace and conflict as he was a Hebrew raised as an Egyptian in the very palace that oppressed the people he came from.

And one day, he made a choice – a choice that revealed his loyalty and burst forth from the conflict inside of him. He killed an Egyptian in order to save a Hebrew. And he ran for his life, the all-too-familiar death sentence sealed back onto his forehead.

He ran until he found desert far enough away and he sat and he… stayed.

Moses was born into a nation that hated him, joined the nation that hated him, and then fled from the nation that hated him – leaving himself with nothing but dry desert air and sand and sticks and a defeated heart, orphaned once again with no one to scoop him from a river.

And yet, the depravity of this one man could do nothing to halt the plans of the All-Powerful God. And God’s call ran out and found the heart of Moses, the lowly Moses, the murderer Moses.

How often am I Moses? Though I am given a second chance at life – a New Birth – I kill and steal and then I run. I run away and hide in my desert corner, surrounded by nothing but rocks and heat and mortality.

And yet the call of God rings clear. How can it be? I am Moses, staring at a bush that won’t burn. Given a call I don’t deserve. Bare feet. Unbelieving heart.

How can it be? 

But the call. The call is too grand, I complain to God. I can’t do it. It’s too hard. Too impossible.

“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?'”

Who am I, God? Who am I to love the un-lovable, find the hurting, weep with the weeping? Who am I to learn your word, pray with sincerity? Who am I to say “Yes” always?

Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?

The more I know my Lord, the more I know the question is not “Who am I?” I have been wrong for too long. The question is not “Who am I?”, for I am just as I feel.

Mortal.

Sinful.

Weak.

The question is not “Who am I?”. Instead, God looks to Moses and asks,

“What is that in your hand?”

What is that in your hand?

God was unconcerned with the list of sins Moses had committed, for if God desired to call perfect people He would never have called a soul. God’s Will ran clear through shame and murder and found the soul He desired, beside a burning bush.

And He only asked him one question. “What is that in your hand?”.

A staff. I think I have little to offer the Lord? Moses had a stick.

And yet that stick parted oceans. That stick turned water into blood. That stick became a God-stick because God made it so.

God has a way of taking our nothingness and using it to change nations and move mountains.

What is that in your hand?

As I write I begin to tally every excuse I’ve ever made to the Almighty God. How dare I tell the Creator how to create? Tell the Caller how to call? The Lamb took every ounce of my torture and punishment upon Himself, and I stand in His presence, watching a bush that will never burn, and tell Him that since all I have is a staff He has called the wrong person.

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”

Jim Elliot

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