What do you have in your hand?
September 18, 2023
From Pastor Joseph Wamack
I get the privilege of speaking this weekend (September 22 and 23) at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN, to the School of Religion students. This is a humbling experience for me.
I have been thinking about what I want to say and how I can encourage and/or challenge these young men and women as they continue their professional and personal growth.
It causes me to reflect on my pastoral journey when I attended Pacific Union College in 1985-1987 and then the Seminary at Andrews University in 1987-1990. I came into those programs with excitement, fears, doubts, and struggles to keep up. But somehow, I managed! In those 4 ½ years, we had two children, and I earned two degrees and kept a 3.6 GPA. God is good even to people like me.
I think I want to remind these students of this Bible story which I think about a lot.
When God called Moses, after 40 years of being a shepherd, Moses replied, “But what if they don’t listen to me? Are you sure you have the right guy? I can’t speak well. I am a shepherd-that is all”. And God asked him a rather profound question. He said, “What do you have in your hand? Throw it down.” (This in Exodus 4).
Through those long years Moses spent as a shepherd, he had carried a long rod that was used as a tool and a weapon in caring for the sheep. That rod, and his natural ability, were the only things that Moses had that God wanted.
God asked Moses to throw down his most valuable possession, to give up his source of living, his security. Moses obeyed. And when he did, God allowed him to pick it back up. When Moses released his staff to God, God allowed him to receive it back and to use it to the glory of God. With the rod, Moses parted the Red Sea. With it he saved the wanderers by bringing forth water from the rock. With the rod of God, he oversaw the conquest of enemies and led the people to the Promised Land.
God called Moses to do a mighty work. The freedom and deliverance of God’s chosen people was at stake, and God chose a stuttering, meek, humble, frightened, doubting, excuse-filled man, on the run for murdering an Egyptian, to perform that mighty work.
But God saw something in Moses that man cannot see. He saw the heart of a man who would commit his all to God’s work. He saw a man that would not back down in the face of opposition, even under the threat of death. God saw a man who would become one of the greatest leaders in history.
That is what I want to share with those students (and you and me too!). God takes us, uses us as we are, grows us, changes us, improves us, upgrades us, remodels us-God does whatever is needed - with our permission - to be used and to grow the Kingdom of God. So...what is it you have in your hand?