“What is that in your hand?”

in your hand

Is it a pencil? A paintbrush? A computer? A soccer ball? Is it a phone? A schedule? Your wallet? Your keys? Are you holding an instrument? A pair of shoes? A schoolbook?

For this man, it was a staff. He wasn’t sure why he was being asked this. It was pretty obvious, he thought. It wasn’t anything special. Just a roughly hewn, solid piece of wood, knotted with age. It had been with him for many long miles. Under his hand and weight, the grip had been worn smooth and the grain familiar. It wasn’t anything special; just a walking tool to balance him in the arid, rocky desert. He wondered why God wanted to know.

“Throw it on the ground.”

Shrugging,  he let the rod fall from his hands. Maybe it was meant as a symbol for leaving this intermittent time in the desert behind.

He could never have foreseen what would actually happen next.

As the staff began to writhe, he jumped back. For in the eyes of the snake, there was something more–there was the realization of the God to which he was committed. Though he couldn’t yet see it, in the eyes of the snake there was contained locusts and frogs and hail and darkness and blood, and the parting of a great, great sea. In those eyes, there was the coming knowledge of what God will do for his own.

At first, he ran. He’d lived in the desert for four decades; he knew not to mess with vipers. But God told him to pick it up.

Are you sure, God? Are you sure you know what you’re doing?

He picked it up.

God gave him two more signs, the leprosy and the Nile. Then he gave him a charge: “Go tell Pharoah to let my people go.” My people–a people of slaves who would be made free, and then bring freedom to the world.

Moses’ reaction was visceral and immediate. “Send someone else!” I am slow of speech and tongue. I am not ready. I am not enough. I can’t.

And God responds: “Is it not I, the Lord? Is it not I, the Lord, who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind?” Is it not I, the Lord?

I ask again: what is that in your hand? Is it a hoe, a needle, a broom? Is it a calculator or test tube? A pen or a sword?

“Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart as unto the Lord.” (Colossians 2:23)

Jesus himself was a carpenter. Do not make the mistake of the Nazarenes. Someone once said, “That Jesus was a carpenter was to them poor credentials of divinity, but it has been divine credentials to the poor ever since.”

Yes, yes, a carpenter, same trade as mine!
How it warms my heart as I read that line.
I can stand the hard work, I can stand the poor pay,
For I’ll see that Carpenter at no distant day.
–Maltbie D. Babcock

This is the carpenter of whom God said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

So what is that in your hand? Time is in his; he knows your beginning and your end. He was there at the start and he’ll see you through to the end. He knows where you’ll be on your final day, and where you’ll end up; he knows that it will all be okay, and you’ll see his face. He’s put you where you are for an exact and specific purpose. Maybe he wants you to use your staff, and maybe he wants you to pick up your snake.

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before you, may you be singing when they evening comes.

Blessings!
Bre

It’s NOT fair

Someone explained to me the concept of stewardship vs. ownership this way: When you own something, and you let someone borrow it, you tend to be pretty clear that sure, you can use it, but DON’T FORGET IT’S MINE. (Don’t laugh, you know it’s true.) And God, he’s the same way. Not in a petty way, but in a this-is-a-gift-from-the-King-of-the-Universe kind of way. Don’t forget it’s his. “Ownership” is the false perception that you’re in control; stewardship is recognizing who really is.

2 Corinthians 8:1-9 talks about not just giving to God out of the extra. Because that’s what we tend to do, isn’t it? But if we really set our eyes on the end goal here, if we really believe that this world is not our home, then isn’t it true that whatever successes to which we lay claim, whatever secret treasures we tuck away, whatever castles we build are really all just made of sand?

But that’s hard though, right? Because this world, well, we can say we’re strangers in a strange land, that this isn’t our final destination or our true home, but…it’s all we can see. All we feel like we’ve ever known. Maybe that’s why, in the everyday miracles of life, God gives us a glimpse of eternity.

It’s in the bride and groom, smiling into each other’s eyes and seeing only beauty and joy as they are united as one.

It’s in the father telling his son “I love watching you play,” after every game, win or lose.

It’s in the fact that even when all seems lost, the sun is still going to rise tomorrow morning, and it’s never too late to start over.

It’s in the sisters who argue over shower time, but when it comes down to it will always defend each other.

It’s in the phosphatase of your cells, just one of the millions of enzymes, each one without which your cells couldn’t live.

It’s in the best-selling, under-read book that secretes truth that cleaves between heart and soul, bone and marrow, and that gives a foundation of rock in a sinking-sand world.

It’s in the things we overlook, the everyday, mundane miracles, the little hidden messages of God, saying, I’m here.

Because sometimes, it’s so easy to forget. Because I feel sometimes like I’m drowning, under the weight of the expectations, demands, standards, responsibilities, pressures, choices, decisions–the heaviness of it all threatens to crush me and I want to complain that I don’t deserve this but the fact that I have the option to choose these things puts me in a really, really privileged place.

And you know what? Sometimes life isn’t fair. But this world is not our home.

In closing, I wanted to share a poem I wrote last April bemoaning my frustrations when it connected that you know, my frustration and exhaustion and overwhelm and indecision and demands really do suck, but there’s a whole lot of things that really suck a lot more, and probably don’t have half as much volume. And maybe, just maybe, despite how worn and fed up and irritated and exhausted and wanting-to-scream-into-a-pillow-feeling I am, the real question should honestly be, how much more can I give? Because in reality, this world is NOT my home, and all these castles, they’re made of sand, and will be worn away with a single wave unless I find for myself a foundation of stone.

 

It’s not fair
That I try till I cry
and I’m never recognized
It’s not fair
that I’m putting all my time into this
and still expected to live
up to everything else.
It’s not fair
the expectations and standards, requirements and demands
the time I don’t have;
I’m struggling to stand and
It’s not fair
that kids are abused
and women are used
and some are refused
respect
based on the color of their skin
It’s not fair
that the world we’re in’s
so full of sin
that no one can win
It’s not fair
that children in Africa are forced to drink
the same water that killed their mothers
because they have no other option
It’s not fair
that we live in a world of illusion
absorbed in self-delusion
and all are refusing
to listen
to the cries
of the invisible broken.
We’re all human together!
We can stare at the stars
or stand in the dark
or just watch from afar
and ignore the suffering of our brothers
We made it to the moon, but somehow
we still can’t reach each other.
We’ll never find justice, till we stand with one another
and say
and shout
and sing aloud
with one voice:
This.
Is.
Who.
We.
Are.