Snake or Staff?

Israel has been in bondage to Egypt for close to 400 years.  God meets Moses through a “burning bush” and drafts Moses into His service.  God has heard the cries of His people and is going to free and bring them to the Promised Land.  Then God says, “Moses, you’re My man.  You will go to Pharaoh and lead My people out.” But Moses is overwhelmed with fear.  He is not qualified and feels inadequate. He was a failure at helping his people forty years earlier and that Pharaoh wanted Moses dead.  Five times he gives excuses for why he should not obey God.

Exodus 4:1-4 records this interaction between God and Moses.

“Moses, What’s in your hand?”

“A shepherd’s staff.”  It symbolized his gifts and abilities to care for sheep. The staff represented who he was and what he’d become. A deliverer or leader for Israel?  No.  But sheep? He could care for sheep.

“Throw it down.” God was saying, Give it back to Me.  Let it go.  Surrender that staff and your gifts and abilities (and inabilities) to Me.  I made you Moses.  You will use the gifts and abilities I have given you to be the leader I have made you to be.

Moses threw the staff down and it turned into a serpent.    Moses jumps back in fear.  Was he afraid of what God could do with what Moses thought were his abilities?  It was a snake!  Sometimes we are afraid of the potential that God has built into us.  We’d rather run and hide.  But God has other plans.

“Pick it up by the tail” God says.  Moses does so and the snake once more becomes a staff.  However, now the staff is different.  It is no longer Moses’ staff, a mere shepherd’s staff.  Now it is “the staff of God.”  When Moses goes to Egypt he takes that staff with him.

What is God calling you to do?  How is God calling you to make a difference in the world?  What if you surrendered your fears, your abilities and inabilities to God?  Maybe you can make a difference where you are by using your staff—your God given abilities (or inadequacies as you might label them)—to make our world a kinder, gentler place; by speaking peace where there is hatred and fear; by seeking harmony where there is division and discord; by listening to someone else’s opinion and trying to understand them, even if you don’t agree with them.

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