What’s in Your Hand?

What’s in your hand? A lot of Christians dream about having big ministries, reaching a lot of people with the gospel.  But we often discount the opportunities that we have in our daily lives.

It’s easy to look at successful people with large ministries and decide that I can’t be of much use in the Kingdom of God unless I can write books read by millions, preach to multitudes, or lead scores of people in worship. These are the ones put forth for public adulation.  And I’m just a nobody living in the middle of nowhere. What can I do?

Lost influence

Moses could relate. Once upon a time, he had it all. Though born a slave, he was adopted into the royal family. Whether he was in line for the throne is unclear, but we can be sure that he was set up to succeed. He had the best education available in Egypt, and influence with all the right people.

As an adult, he turned his back on all the privilege of his adopted family and chose to identify with his family of origin. But this decision led to him to become a murderer. And he soon became a fugitive despised and pursued by both the Israelites and the Egyptians.

Fugitive, not Pharaoh

The erstwhile prince fled to the desert, far removed from the palaces of Egypt. There he married a local girl, settled down,  started a family and gave up on any grandiose ideas of saving anyone, and started herding sheep to make ends meet.

Divine intervention?

Then God showed up. Not that Moses was looking for Him. Isn’t that how it usually is? About the time we settle into what we think is a mundane existence, things shift and change.

While Moses was watching sheep in the desert of Midian, God appeared to him.  When Moses first settled in Midian, I wonder how many nights stared up at the stars and questioned his choices? Did he imagine that God had not only abandoned him, but all of Israel as well?

Herding sheep — or– What’ s in your hand?

But after 40 years herding sheep and watching the world go by, Moses was not a confident swaggering prince, ready to take on the world. He was  aware of his limitations, and not at all ready to go back and repeat the mistakes  that marooned him there in the first place.

After some discussion, Moses blurts out his biggest objection. “How can I prove that I’ve met with you, God? How will they know you really sent me?” It’s a legitimate question. Few people in Egypt would remember him, and he had no credentials, no official letters of introduction.

That’s when God asks, “What’s in your hand?” And the answer seemed to underscore Moses’ argument. 40 years ago, he was somebody. He probably had a signet ring on his hand that symbolized the power of Pharaoh.

But Moses was a working man now. And he had a rod, not a ring.

“What’s in your hand, Moses?”

“This, Lord? Just a rod.”

“Throw it down.”

Wait. You want me to pick up a snake? By what?

Perhaps there was confusion in the shepherd’s eyes. But he obeyed. And then ran in terror from the hissing serpent where the rod had just been.

“Pick it up by the tail.”

This is where I would have stopped negotiating. I hate snakes. I don’t want to be in the same zip code as a snake. But even I know you don’t pick up a snake by the tail.

But Moses complies. And there in his hand, the snake stiffens once again into the shepherd’s rod.

A different kind of education

What’s in your hand Moses? A rod.   The desert had taught him where to find food and water. What kinds of predators lurked in the rocky outcroppings all around. What kinds of traps the unforgiving terrain could harbor. All this would be necessary to rescue over a million people.

God doesn’t waste our experiences. If we surrender them to Him, He will use them. Our problem is that too often we disqualify ourselves. Moses tried desperately to do just that. He spent hours– no,– days arguing with God. Telling Him to send someone else. He didn’t realize that the past 40 years in the desert had given Moses everything he needed to be the leader he was supposed to be.

What’s in your hand? The question is asked often in scripture. Bezelel and Oholiab were skilled craftsmen long before they were tasked with building the tabernacle. What was in their hands? The tools of their trade. And long years of education.

One young boy had only a lunch he had brought with him when he wanted to see Jesus. He got more than he bargained for when Jesus took his lunch and fed thousands.

What’s in your hand, Grandpa Ernie?

My neighbor Ernie spent his young adulthood preparing to be a missionary. And he and his wife spent several years in Belize. Circumstances changed and they returned to the United States to raise their family. But Ernie was an evangelist. And he loves kids.

Balloons and Beads and the Gospel

Grandpa Ernie. What's in your hand?
Grandpa Ernie ready to share at a local Night to Shine event.

He began focusing his attention on sharing the gospel with children. He used balloon animals at first. Then he discovered water balloon yo-yos, and colorful beaded bracelets that he uses to explain the gospel even to children too young to read.  He has taken these ideas all over the world and all around our area. Grandpa Ernie has become a fixture at local Vacation Bible Schools and Harvest Festivals. Countless children have come to know Jesus because of Grandpa Ernie and his balloons.

What’s in your hand, Kate? A sewing machine.

Where Ernie’s ministry is public, I have another neighbor who shares love to many using a sewing machine. Kate is a fixture in our small town. Retired from the school system, she helps out the local elementary school by proctoring year end exams.

Kate showing what's in her hand
Kate at her sewing machine

But she is best known as a seamstress. I often see police cars parked at her house. No, she’s not in trouble. When the department orders new uniforms, most of the officers will pay her a visit to get the pants shortened, the sleeves or waist band adjusted.

Last year, a young deputy sheriff died unexpectedly. It seemed like every officer in the county made a pilgrimage to Kate’s home in the next week. She altered dozens of dress uniforms so his brothers and sisters could look their best when they said goodbye.

During prom season, you’ll be fortunate to catch a 5 minute conversation with Kate. She’s too busy altering dresses. Countless Haywood county brides have said “I do” wearing dresses she altered.

She does all this and never charges anyone. It is her gift to her community, and to God.

Life in the outdoors

My brother Myron and I grew up in the country. Our dad was an outdoorsman and he encouraged us to love nature.  He taught both of us how to handle firearms safely before we learned to read.  He taught us both how to shoot. I’m a decent shot and don’t embarrass myself often.  But Myron is good.

In recent years, we have been introduced to the sporting clays. This is a game something like golf where you use a shotgun to hit clay targets thrown in various configurations. They mimic game animals like pigeons, pheasants and sometimes rabbits and squirrels.

What's in your hand? A shotgun.
Myron ready for a target.

Myron loves the game. He spends a lot of time perfecting his skill. And it goes beyond being an accurate marksman. He knows how to tweak the weapon so it fits an individual, and what kind of ammo is best in given situation.

He studies the game. And it shows. He is also very patient, and a good teacher to boot.

What’s in your hand, Myron? A shotgun!

Myron attends a church that like many in the US is aging. There aren’t many members under 50.

About a year ago, a group of college students arrived at church.  When Myron talked to them, he found out that they had meant to visit a church just a couple of blocks away. But he also found out that these young people were members of a college shooting team. They were all avid shotgunners.

Myron seized the moment and engaged the young adults. He took them to one of our favorite ranges. He focused on getting to know them.

They continued to attend church. Some of them had little religious background, while a couple of them had grown up in church.  So Myron decided to start a Sunday school class for them, based on some of the principles of shooting.

Meet them where they are.

Sound far-fetched? But did you know that Paul often looked to the athletic endeavors of his audience for examples. He wrote about wrestling, boxing and running races, all as examples of how to live the Christian life.

Shooting requires focus, discipline, and practice. So does  the Christian walk.  Myron  has used these ideas to engage  students decades  younger than he is.

Many Christians are perplexed by how to reach younger people. But my brother took what was in his hand and transformed into a ministry.

What’s in your hand?

Is God speaking to you today? Is He asking you what’s in your hand? He calls some people to go around the world. But most of the time, He asks us to start right where we are.  The people we meet on a daily basis, our friends and family, are the ones  who are most likely to listen when we share what God has done in our lives.

So, what about you? Who can you influence? What’s in your hand?

Lisa Crowe

Lisa recently retired from the State of NC where she served families of children with disabilities, and now spends her time writing and serving missionaries as Partner Services Advocate for MAP Global, an international mission sending agency. She serves as Prayer Team Director for her local church and leads a Ladies Bible Study. Lisa loves to travel, read, and hike the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. She shares her Canton NC home with her two dogs Daisy and Bernie. You can connect with Lisa on Facebook or Instagram where she microblogs.

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  1. Lisa, first, like you, I don’t want to be in the same ZIP Code as a snake either. Imagine what happen the day I discovered one in my dishwasher, but perhaps I’ll share that in a story here sometime.😉

    Second, I love this so much. Thank you for the reminder. Your examples are great and, also like you, I love Ernie Gentry! What a great missionary — and with balloons! 🎈

  2. This line stood out to me – God was preparing Moses for the Exodus while Moses thought he was just herding sheep. Thank you!

    He didn’t realize that the past 40 years in the desert had given Moses everything he needed to be the leader he was supposed to be.

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