One of the first sermons I ever preached was in high school. It was real bad… Like seriously, bad (I found the notes and my face turned red while reading it in my office this week). But there is an object lesson from the story, that even though I communicated poorly, is still true today.
The life of Moses is one big restart. He spends 40 years in Egypt as a prince, then he flees Egypt and spends 40 years in the desert. At the age of 80, God finally calls him and gives him his purpose. Can you image being 80 years old and finding out God’s purpose for your life? Here’s a freebie lesson for all the elderly folk who might read this: If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done.
Let’s get back to the story. Moses is 80 years old and it’s time to restart… Again. One day he’s out with his sheep, and off in the distance he sees a little fire. He walks over to it, totally mesmerized by this burning bush because though it was engulfed in flames, it was not burning up. The Bible tells us that the Angel of the Lord was in the burning bush.
As Moses gets closer, he begins to hear the voice of the Lord and God tells him the plans for starting over. Go read the story for yourself in Exodus 3, but for our purposes here, just know that God was calling Moses to go confront Pharaoh and lead God’s people out of slavery… What a job to start at 80 years old!
And like many of us, Moses accepted the call right away with no push back, right? Wrong. Moses had a past and felt totally unworthy to lead Israel. Moses decides that he knows best so he goes back and forth with God insisting that he really isn’t the guy for the job. He pretty much says, “I appreciate it God, but no thanks.” Finally, in Exodus chapter 4, God had had enough.
Moses protests one more time and finally God says, “What is that in your hand?” In Moses’ hand was a shepherd’s staff. Upon hearing this, God says, “Throw it on the ground,” and when it hits the dirt, it becomes a snake (Ew, Gross)! As the story progresses, it’s clear that the shepherd’s staff was going to be the one of the ways in which God expressed His power through Moses.
So here’s the object lesson in all this (And I stole this idea from my dad who stole it from someone else)… Everyone has something in their hand that God can use. God looks at each of us and says, “What is that in your hand?”
Maybe your staff is hospitality and God is calling you to host your neighbors on a consistent basis. Maybe your staff is financial security and God is calling you practice radical generosity. Maybe you’re great with kids and you need to go serve them. Maybe you’re an athlete and you can coach and mentor younger athletes. Maybe you are tech-savvy and need to help your church go digital in this COVID world.
Whatever your staff, God calls each of us to trust Him with it. He calls each of us to use it to build the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven. And if you’re wanting to start over, maybe start over by looking at what God has already given you. Don’t try to be something you aren’t, but use your talents, your gifts, and your resources to be who God created you to be.
Often times, the key to starting over is already in your possession… What’s the staff in your hand and how can use it for God?