Exodus 4:1-3 (NIV): 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.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.
Moses was a shepherd that God was calling to far greater things – from overseeing sheep and goats to overseeing a nation of 2 million people. And Moses was uncomfortable with the whole idea. He could only see the downsides of the situation. He was comfortable where he was at, capable at the job he was doing, and unwilling to step outside of his comfort zone.. This was the third reason he had given for God to leave him alone and choose someone else to do the job.
So rather than talking any more, God decided to give him a live illustration of His ability. Moses’ staff was a tool of his current trade. It not only provided him with stability over rough terrain and defense against enemies of the flock, it also helped him to keep the flock in line, out of trouble, safe. He had learned to use it well over 40 years, and he not only relied on it, but saw it as the emblem of who he was. He was a shepherd, and his staff proved it.
So God had him throw his staff on the ground. That act of obedience was the first real crack in his defenses. In changing his staff into a snake as a miraculous sign, God showed him how the tool he had relied on so strongly, the tool that, to him, signified his identity in his work, could be used to an even greater advantage in the new job to which God was calling him. The things he had learned among the sheep, the ability to use the “tools of the trade” were all transferable to the new and much higher calling God was placing on his life. It’s no wonder that when Moses headed for Egypt to take up this new calling, that he now called the staff that he carried “the staff of God.” (Exodus 4:20)
It was the same way with Jesus when He called His disciples away from their nets and boats, telling them, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:20) In this case, the physical tools that they laid down, the nets and the boats, were not the “tools of the trade” that God used. Instead, it was their patience; their stamina; their willingness to fish all night long without a catch, and then go out the next night and do it all again; their awareness that it was God who provided every catch, but that they wouldn’t catch anything if they didn’t put out into deep water and do the hot, sweaty, exhausting work of casting and hauling nets. All of those skills, the thing they had learned over years of fishing, were all transferable to the new and much higher calling Jesus was placing on their lives.
When God calls people today, whether it is to become harvesters in the ripe fields, shepherds of the flock, teachers to help new believers to start producing fruit, God will turn all of the knowledge that we have and enhance it. He will take every skill that we have learned over our years, and back it with miraculous power. He will take every passion that drives us, and give us that same passion for the hearts and souls of people.
The kingdom of God has no sidelines, no cheering section, no concession stands. Every single Christian is called to get in the game, to be a player in the program of making disciples of all nations, rescuing them from their slavery to sin and death, and then helping them to grow into powerful, godly, witnessing disciples. If we are willing to respond to this new and much higher calling that God is placing on our lives, we will see how He will use us and all that we bring to the table to spread His kingdom all over the world.
Father, this is exciting stuff! Help us all to be willing to be used by You to spread Your kingdom. Help us to hear Your call, and to throw down our old identity, so that it can be refilled with Your miraculous purpose for our lives. Amen.