"The LORD said to [Moses] 'What is that in your hand?' 'A staff,' he replied." (Exodus 4:2)
Moses’s staff was among the few possessions he had. It was probably his shepherd’s staff and represented what he knew and what he already had. God took that staff and made it a tool Moses would use many times on the new journey that lay ahead.
All of us already have gifts, talents, resources, and experience given us by God that we can use to glorify Him and serve others. He’s asking us to be faithful with what we’ve got, to bring it to the table. 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Whatever our skill set or gift mix, wherever we are, and wherever we go we can participate in the mission of God.
All of us already have gifts, talents, resources, and experience given us by God that we can use to glorify Him and serve others.
So, what’s in our hand that God can use? How about doing an inventory of all the things God has provided? For example, a house or apartment, your vocation, your skills and gifts, a car or motorbike, your finances, your position of influence in your family or workplace, your time, even your dining room table (hospitality is a great way to participate in mission!).
For years I thought the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) involved David making a totally unrealistic, impossible attempt at taking out Goliath with a few stones and that it was a total miracle. In fact, David knew how to wield a slingshot. Wielded by an expert, stones could be sent flying with great speed and accuracy. David was using what he had, what he knew. Unlike all the trained soldiers who stood in fear on the sidelines, he cared so much about God’s glory that he stepped forward, combining his trust in God with his skills, and took a risk.
David’s approach was unconventional; the other soldiers had swords, spears, and armour. Maybe we’ve been sitting on something God wants us to use but we don’t think it fits with the norm or it doesn’t seem useful. Sometimes we let false humility keep us from using our gifts, talents, and resources. Or we’re waiting until we’ve got more—more resources, more qualifications, more influence. Or we let a perceived limitation, including a disability, stop us. Moses hoped his limitations would get him out of what God was calling him to do. He told God he didn’t speak well (as if God didn’t already know!) and even said, “Please send someone else to do it” (Exodus 4:10, 13).
Calling everybody who loves Jesus: bring your tools to the table; God will put them to use.
George Stott wanted to make Jesus known in China. Because he only had one leg, he was turned down by several mission organizations. Hudson Taylor, founder of what is now OMF International, accepted him. When Taylor asked him why he would think of going to China with one leg, Stott replied, “I do not see those with two legs going, so I must." He wanted to use what he had and do what he could instead of coming up with reasons for why someone else should do it.
Use What You Have; Don't Lament What You Don't Have
One of our national offices wrote to me earlier this year about a teacher and his family interested in joining our team. He has rheumatoid arthritis. I love his willingness and courage for the sake of the gospel. Many healthy, gifted people are doing very little with what they’ve got. We’ve found there are workable solutions to managing his condition here, and we’ll see how things develop. Examples like these challenge me to use what I’ve got, not lament what I haven’t got.
About our vocations, Charles Spurgeon wrote that "Every lawful trade may be sanctified by the gospel to noblest ends." Maybe God is nudging you towards a new way of using your vocation, perhaps in another culture. Our team here is involved in a wide range of fantastic work. Some have started social enterprises and small businesses to create jobs and help families out of poverty. Some are serving vulnerable, exploited, or abused children and youth. Others are discipling students and teaching at a university. A few of us are health care professionals. We teach the Bible and share the good news about Jesus, partnering with local churches as they witness to their local communities. Others of us provide vital support to the missions community through teaching at an international school, providing member care, and running a language school.
So, we're calling all artists, carpenters, teachers, engineers, accountants, techies, nurses, or administrators–calling singles, couples, and families–calling everybody who loves Jesus: bring your tools to the table; God will put them to use!
Lord, I bring before you all the gifts, talents, and possessions You have so graciously given to me. I dedicate them for Your service that they will be a blessing to others and be tools in your hand to help others come to know You and experience Your love and the transforming power of the gospel. Amen.
Alex Hawke is a mission worker and Country Team Leader in South East Asia with Interserve. He and his wife have two sons and are from the UK. They run a transitional housing and mentoring program for young women from exploitative backgrounds. Alex started Burning Hearts: Fuel for the Journey to encourage us to live lives that are fervent, faithful, focused, and free. You can follow him on Twitter.