“A Staff”

Genesis 4:1-5

“What is that in your hand?”

God chose a slave turned prince turned criminal turned shepherd turned 80 years old – Moses – to shine through and deliver the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt.  Not only was Moses old and had a complicated past but he sees a bush that shines with fire but is not consumed. Moses turns aside to check it out and enters a conversation with the Holy.

         God gives Moses an assignment.  Return to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.  The movies present Moses as a man entering into the presence of Pharaoh with a mission.  We might now say that Moses is “on fire.”  We use the idiom “on fire” to talk about literal burning or about a burning sensation as “my throat is on fire,” or to complement someone who is performing very well as in “he is really on fire tonight,” or it can even be used to talk about someone looking sexy.  Moses was focused, “on task,” ”on fire!”

         But there is first a give-and-take conversation between Moses and God.  Moses is not so sure he is the man for the job and tries to convince God to choose someone else.  Moses is wanted for murder and realizes return to Egypt will be problematic.  God lays out the plan but then God challenges Moses.  “What is that in your hand?”  Most has an ordinary staff, not even a whole tree, just a piece of a tree.  God did not need a whole tree, only the piece that Moses was used to using.  He tells Moses to throw it down and it becomes a snake.  He tells Moses to pick it us and it returns to being a staff.  This staff will be held out over the Red Sea, will hit a rock and be used in various other ways.  Moses only had to be willing to let God use him and his staff.

         I suspect often we think God wants to use the talented, the trained, the gifted or perhaps the wealthy.  But more likely God delights in using ordinary, broken people like you and me to work amazing acts that display his character.  He asks only one question, “What is that in your hand?”  While in Kenya, my friend visited her neighbor who had absolutely nothing in her house.  The woman had just returned from walking miles to fetch firewood and had yet to walk to haul water so could not offer her guest a cup of tea.  The woman begged my friend to accept a piece of firewood as a thank you for the visit to.  What do you have?  A smile, a glass of cold water, an email affirmation, a hug, a listening ear?  We all have something, perhaps not a staff, but something God can use.  We just have to be willing.  Blessings.

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