What's That in Your Hand?
One of my husband’s pair of jeans has been around since the Flood, I have no doubt. It is evident by the color, tears, and size of the jeans. Every spring when I clean out closets, I ask about those jeans. His reply is always, “No, don’t give those away. I love those jeans! And besides they are still good.” Good is a matter of perspective. I’ve decided not to mention the fact that his waist size is slightly different in 2013 than it was back when we met and he wore those very jeans. (So, is mine, in all fairness.)
Most of us have things that we hold on to. It is a favorite item, or has sentimental value, or reminds us of days gone by that we don’t want to forget. There is nothing wrong with that. But every once in a while, especially in ministry, there are things in our lives that we are called upon to lay down, to let go of, to set aside, at least for awhile.
Exodus 4 tells the story of Moses and his rod. “Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you”?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ ‘A staff,’ he replied. The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground’” (Ex. 4:1-3) You know the story. The rod became a snake until Moses picked it back up and then it turned back into a rod. At the end of that encounter, God said to Moses, “This is so that they may believe that the Lord…has appeared to you.” (Ex. 4:5)
From that moment on the rod possessed new strength. It was with that rod Moses used to part the Red Sea and lead the Israelites out of captivity.
For Moses, the rod was his tool. He relied on it daily to help with his herd and to maneuver the terrain as he walked from place to place. It was not something he wanted to do with out or to give up. Yet God asked him to throw it on the ground. After he laid it down, the rod was nothing more than a snake that no one would want! But when Moses picked it back up after giving it to God, it was no longer just a tool, it was no longer a snake that no one would want; It was God’s instrument that held great power and it would change the lives of thousands as it parted the Red Sea and brought water from a rock.
In my life, there have been a few times God has said to me, “What is that in your hands? Lay it down.” Each time was hard and came with struggles causing me to question. But in the end, there was new strength.
One time, it was leaving the mission field to come home permanently. “What is that in your hand, Gayla? Lay it down.” There were Filipinos in my hand and I didn’t want to lay them down; they were lost and needed to hear the message of hope. “What is that in your hand, Gayla? Lay it down.” It was hard to let go but it was also clear that God was calling us home and asking me to let go of what I was so desperately holding on to. But once I let go, God did amazing things.
- We left 23 churches and now, there are almost 50 churches.
- I still have the privilege of telling the God-stories of the Philippines more than ever before!
- I live next door to a Filipino, the very people group I laid down.
- Last year I had the privilege of being asked to write a book about it.
God is full of surprises! “What is that in your hand? Lay it down….that they may believe.” The stories in the Philippines are no longer about the missionary who lived there but about the God who stayed there. “Lay it down…that they may believe.”
This year God has asked me once again to lay down what has been in my hands, a project I’ve been working on for many months. I’m not sure what God will do with it but I can say that I have already seen Him at work. When I get to pick it back up – and I know I will – it be full of new strength that can only come from God.
“What is that in your hand?” What is the talent, gift, resource, job, ministry or person that you are holding in your hand? Do you have a tool that needs to be God’s tool? Is God asking you to lay it down today? No worries, when He tells you to pick it up again, it will have new strength that can only come from God so that all will “believe that the Lord…has appeared to you.”
“What is that in your hand? Lay it down…that they may believe.”