The Israelites were in deep suffering in Egypt and cried out to God. The Lord heard their cry and came down to “rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” The Lord Himself said “I have come down.” He came down but still needed a man to act on His behalf. He found Moses and invited him to be the deliverer. Moses felt inadequate for the task and asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Moses was right. He had grown up in Pharaoh’s house and he knew what qualified a man to stand before the king. He knew he wasn’t qualified, let alone to make the outrageous demand of letting go of the economic work horses of Egypt. Exodus 3:7-11, 4:1-5.
After a lengthy discussion about who God was and what was to be Moses’ message to the Israelites and the Egyptians, Moses still fell ill-equipped for the task. He threw up another question: “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” God’s response to Moses’ latest question was to pose a question of His own: “What is that in your hand?” That question, is the focal point of this piece. When a student questions their teacher, it is usually from a point of knowledge-deficit. When the teacher is the questioner, it is different. H/She asks from a place of knowledge, to reveal the student’s level of knowledge on the subject matter and to help the student to deepen their knowledge. When God Himself, the maker of all things, the omniscient one, asks a question, it most definitely isn’t from a place of ignorance but of absolute knowledge. It is meant to be revealing to the one being questioned. That question “What is that in your hand?” was deep. In fact, anytime God asks a question in the Bible, it is deeper than its mere sound. As an aside, I would suggest that you take time to study the questions God has asked in the Bible.
“WHAT IS THAT IN YOUR HAND?”
The question “What is that in your hand?” was God’s response to Moses’ doubt-filled, inferiority-complex laden question, prompted by the rejection he feared he might face in his assignment. God didn’t respond to Moses’ question with the type of answer you’d ordinarily expect. He didn’t respond at this time with an assurance of his presence and power. Those were already promised. God’s question was a probe. It was to reveal to Moses the resources he had already been given for his assignment but knew nothing about. Perhaps the resources were too weak and obscured for Moses to recognize them. They had no beauty or comeliness for him to see the value of what he carried. God’s question was meant to reveal that to him.
Dear Saint, do you have an assignment from God? Do you sense the call of God on your life yet you feel inadequate for the task? Do you feel that you do not possess what it takes to fulfill God’s call on your life? Not eloquent enough? Not educated enough? Not rich enough? Not good-looking enough? Whatever your estimations and knowledge of your self are, God’s question to you is this: “What is that in your hand?”
‘Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.’ Ex. 4:1-2.
God’s searching question helped Moses to look inwards, to discover, to identify what he was truly carrying, though not immediately. “A staff” was his reply. Some bible versions call it a “rod”, a “walking stick” or a “shepherd’s staff”. Whatever its name was, he identified it. A walking stick is a cut, dead and dried part of a tree. That was what Moses was carrying, but he had to identify it. The identification gave Moses the opportunity to submit the stick to God’s instructions, and it became the tool for his ministry.
You, “what is that in your hand”? Can you identify it? That it is a dead and dry stick is not a problem. Many times our problems arise because we feel that what we have been gifted is a dry stick compared to other people’s gifts. You just first identify it. Tell the Master what you are carrying. He knows but He asks so that you too may come to know.
Do not say I have nothing. The Bible clearly says you do: “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” (Eph. 4:7-8).
“Each one of us” means that everyone has received something. “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.” Your next responsibility is to answer the question of what is in your hand.
How can you identify what you have? Ask the giver to reveal it to you. Look at yourself: what are you passionate about? What are your abilities? What are you able to do almost effortlessly? What is it that when you start doing you are oblivious of the passage of time, and find fulfilment and joy? These may help you to identify what is in “your hand.” Ask a more mature Christian or a godly friend (even a contemporary) to help you. Accepting random tasks may be what you need to reveal your gift. Never shy away from them.