By Gayla Parker, BCM/D WMU Executive Director, Missionary for Missions Education and Customization, Missions Innovator Specialist (WMU, SBC)
One of my husband’s pair of jeans has been around since the flood; I have no doubt.
It is evident by the color, tears and size of the jeans. Every spring when I clean out closets, I ask about those jeans. His reply is always, “No, don’t throw those out they are still good.” Good is matter of perspective. I’ve decided not to mention the fact that his waist size is slightly different in 2010 than is was in 1973 when we met and he wore those very jeans. (So, is mine in all fairness.)
Most of us have things that we hold on to. It is a favorite item or has sentimental value or reminds us of days gone by that we don’t want to forget. There is nothing wrong with that. But every once in a while there are things in our lives that we are called on to lay down.
Exodus 4 tells the story of Moses and his rod. “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’” (Exodus 4:1-3) You know the story. The rod became a snake until Moses picked it back up and then it turned back into a rod. At the end of that encounter, God said to Moses, “This is so that they may believe that the Lord…has appeared to you.” (Exodus 4:5)
From that moment on the rod possessed new strength. It was with that rod that Moses used to part the Red Sea and lead the Israelites out of captivity. The rod had been Moses’ tool, but now it was God’s.
Brian Pruitt, a former football player for Central Michigan University, tells about letting go of football for awhile. Brian was a sought after player in high school, but was disqualified his freshmen year of college because of low grades. He had to lay down his football. It was his talent, but he had to lay it down. When he picked it back up, it wasn’t his anymore; it was God’s. God took that year to prepare Brian for the fame and publicity he was about to receive. Brian was no longer a football player, but a Christian who played football.
In my own life, there have been a few times God said to me, “What is that in your hands? Lay it down.” Each time was hard and came with struggles causing me to question. But in the end, there was new strength.
One was leaving the mission field to come home permanently. “What is that in your hand? Lay it down.” There were Filipinos in my hand and I didn’t want to lay them down…they were lost and needed to hear the message of hope. “What is that in your hand? Lay it down.” It was hard to let go, but it was also clear that God was calling us home and asking me to let go of what I was so desperately holding on to. Once I let go, God did amazing things. We left 23 churches and now there are almost 50. Secondly, I still have the privilege of telling the God stories more than ever before! And third, I live next door to a Filipino, the very people group I laid down. God is full of surprises! “What is that in your hand? Lay it down….that they may believe.” The stories in the Philippines are no longer about the missionary who lived there, but about the God who stayed there. “Lay it down…that they may believe.”
This year God has asked me once again to lay down what has been in my hands, a project I’ve been working on for many months. I’m not sure what God will do with it, but I can say that I have already seen Him at work. When I get to pick it back up, and I know I will, it will be full of new strength that can only come from God.
“What is that in your hand?” What is the talent, gift, resource, job, or person that you are holding in your hand? Do you have a tool that needs to be God’s tool? Is God asking you to lay it down today? No worries, when He tells you to pick it up again, it will have new strength that can only come from God and all will “believe that the Lord…has appeared to you.”