In Exodus 4:1-5, Moses was having doubts about His ability to do what God commanded, to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian captivity. Moses resisted and made excuses.
God asked him a simple question: “What is that in your hand?”
Do we suspect for even a moment that God couldn’t see what Moses was holding in his hand? God could see it perfectly!
Moses answered, “a staff.” Indeed, it was a simple staff. A mere walking stick that a shepherd would use for support while climbing hills and descending valleys. Cut from a tree, likely worn with use. A reminder of the frailty of the human frame.
God asked the question because He wanted Moses to contemplate the commonness of that object. God wanted Moses to realize that the power to accomplish God’s will is not in any earthly vessel, but in God’s power to use it.
God turned it into a living snake, and Moses fled from it. God told him to snatch it by the tail, and it became a staff once again. Moses used it demonstrate God’s power to the elders of Israel (4:30). The staff was in Moses’ hand when he stretched it out over the Nile and turned it to blood (7:15), and again to bring the hail (9:23) and locusts (10:13). The staff was in Moses’ hand when he parted the Red Sea (14:16).
Interestingly, there is a debate about whether Aaron used Moses’ staff or perhaps used his own staff (a different staff) to impress Pharaoh’s magicians (7:10), to cause the reservoirs to turn to blood (7:19), and to bring up the plague of frogs (8:5) and gnats (8:16). As if to remind us that Moses’ staff has no magical properties, sometimes no staff was involved at all (9:8, 11:4).
The power to defeat Pharaoh and lead Israel was not in Moses himself, but in God’s power to use him.
“What’s in YOUR hand?”
So, what is in your hand? You may be just a common person, without special qualifications or talents or riches. It doesn’t matter. If you’ll devote yourself to God in diligent service, He will take your little bit and turn it into a lot. Just obey!
Here is a brief list of some things that you DON’T need to accomplish God’s will:
Eloquence. Moses was “slow of tongue” (Exo. 4:10) but nevertheless became one of Israel’s greatest prophets. Paul was no pulpiteer (2 Cor. 10:10) but taught hundreds. It didn’t take “persuasive words of wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:4) to get the message across.
Secular Education. Advanced degrees say little about a person’s knowledge of Scripture. The aimless pursuit of letters can become a hindrance to the gospel. Peter and John were “uneducated and untrained men” (Acts 4:13), but nevertheless convinced many of the truth of Jesus Christ.
Great wealth. Jesus had nowhere to lay His head, but the lack of worldly possessions and entanglements likely made Him a more successful preacher. Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you” (Acts 3:6). If we have little to spare but the precious gift of the gospel, we have been very generous stewards of our time and money. There’s a place for money in the kingdom (Rom. 12:8) but it’s not a prerequisite for successful service.
Perfect health. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-10) was so painful he prayed three times for relief. Even so, it did not prevent him from walking and sailing all over the known world preaching.
A convenient opportunity. Peter and John were persecuted (Acts 4:1-4) but they didn’t let that stop them (18-20). We often pray for the perfect time, or spend years trying to arrange our affairs, waiting for the chance to serve God. Mostly, that time never comes. It’s amazing how hours become days, days become months, months become years, and years become decades. If you want to look back on decades lived in God’s service, redeem the hours! Rather than waiting for the perfect chance, prioritize more faithfully (Matthew 6:33), and carve out time to work in the kingdom. If we are too busy to serve God, we are too busy.
Years of experience. Some talents take time to develop. Others can be used immediately. Paul preached right away (Acts 9:19-20). Jesus sent the formerly Legion-possessed man to report God’s mercy to his people (Mark 5:19). Immediate testimony from a changed person is powerful.
So stop making excuses. What is in your hand? A few bucks? A few hours one night a week? The keys to a car? A saucepan? A needle and thread? An old Bible? Use it in His service! God has given you everything you need to serve Him.
God uses common people and common objects, “treasure in earthen vessels,” (2 Cor. 4:7) to accomplish great things in His kingdom. Do what you can. He will use it to perform His will. –John Guzzetta