Young Moses understood that God had called him to lead the Hebrews out of Egyptian slavery. He was the perfect choice for the task, after all. Pharaoh’s own daughter had adopted him as her son. So Moses had connections in the highest places. He had power and property. He had the finest education. The people of Israel would naturally see his suitability for leadership and fall in step whenever he was ready to assert himself.
They didn’t. One day Moses struck down an Egyptian taskmaster for mistreating a Hebrew slave. He thought his people would see this act of deliverance as a precursor to freedom for the entire nation of Israel. The next day he saw two slaves engaged in a violent struggle. When he tried to intervene, the man wronging his neighbor angrily asked Moses just who had made him prince and judge. Did he intend to settle this dispute with another killing?
Moses was afraid. If Pharaoh was seeking his death — if the Israelites were rejecting his leadership – then Egypt had become a dangerous place. Moses escaped to Midian. He lived there for 40 years. He tended sheep in the desert. He forgot about leading Israel out of slavery.
But God hadn’t forgotten the suffering of his people. The humble task of leading sheep in the Sinai desert had prepared Moses for leading Israel there. The Lord called to Moses from a burning bush. It was time to return to Egypt and bring the Hebrews out of slavery. Moses resisted. He felt so ill-equipped for such a great responsibility. And what if the Israelites didn’t believe that God had sent him?
The Lord asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” (Exod. 4:2). It was a shepherd’s rod. Throw it on the ground! The rod became a snake. Moses ran from it. Catch it by the tail! The slithering serpent once again became a rod in the shepherd’s hand. The Lord said that this sign and others would convince Israel that Moses was God’s messenger.
What’s that in your hand? Great question. We’re tempted to think that changing the world for good requires the exercise of human power—money, position, intellect. Not so. God can use any common thing in your hand for his glory. Maybe it’s a pan. You bake things and brighten faces with your sweet gifts. Maybe it’s a phone. You call the sick and make them feel so loved and missed. Maybe it’s a screwdriver. You are the trusted friend who can fix anything. Want to change the world? Do what you can with what you have.