NOTE: The writing below was prepared by Janet Brown for a recent speaking engagement...enjoy!
IN YOUR HAND…a woman’s search for meaning
Our hands are amazing tools. God has given them to us to do life. We work with them, play all kinds of games with them, comfort and attend to others with them and enjoy hobbies and interests with them.
IN THE HANDS OF OUR HEART He places skills, abilities and life experiences … all there to accomplish His purpose.
Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed."
Today we are going to attend to what God reveals ... what He has placed IN YOUR HAND.
In Exodus 4:2 God asked Moses this question: WHAT IS IN YOUR HAND? He had called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt at the burning bush but Moses was fearful ... afraid that that the people wouldn't follow him because he had a speech impediment. So he suggested that God use Aaron, his brother instead which God ignored but promised that Aaron would assist him.
Moses had another fear … that the people wouldn't believe God had sent him. So God gave Moses several ways to prove to the people that He was with Moses. He began with a question, “What is in your hand?”
Moses quickly answered that it was a staff. Then God gave clear directive to Moses, “Use it.” Read Exodus Chapter 4 for the rest of the story.
Sometimes, like Moses, we question whether what is in our hand can be used…BECOMING HANDCUFFED!
HANDCUFF #1 - ERRONEOUS INFORMATION
You may have heard about the young wife who would often prepare a roast just the way my mother did. First, she would carefully cut off each end of the boned ham and then place it in the baking pan. One day her mother came to visit watching as she carefully cut off each end and placed it in the pan. This puzzled the mother so she asked her daughter why she had cut off the ends. Her answer: I was doing it like you always do it. The mother giggled softly and then said: I did it because my pan was not big enough! ERRONEOUS INFORMATION.
Moses had come to believe that his speech problem would keep him from successfully leading people … ERRONEOUS INFORMATION!
Some people give in to the idea that they are too old to be useful…ERRONEOUS INFORMATION. Don’t let your age determine what you do with WHAT IS IN YOUR HAND.
These words of Robert Browning echo in my ear, “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be … The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in his hands”
A recent speaker put it this way: “If you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.” Get busy being born!!!
Even misleading information cannot stop the plan of God. Moses did lead his people out of their bondage and ultimately to the land God had promised them.
QUESTION: What misleading information have you held onto that has kept you holding on to what is in your hand?
CHALLENGE: If erroneous information has put what God has placed in your hand at risk remember … we are to LIVE LIFE BY DESIGN NOT BY DEFAULT. “Leaders must lead,” as Bill Hybels, Pastor of a thriving church and church leadership expert, would say. And singers must sing, and teachers must teach and so on!
HANDCUFF #2 - DIVINE DELAY
Recently a friend came over for dinner and was helping me clean up. She carefully loaded the dishwasher, plopped the dish soap tablet into the dispenser, and closed the door at which time the wash cycle would automatically begin...but nothing happened. She waited a couple of minutes but it still wasn’t starting. I was hoping it wasn’t broken and began to fret. Finally I opened the door to look at the settings… the DELAY WASH was on!!!
Sometimes God sets His purpose for what is in our hand on DELAY WASH. He knows the best time is for something to occur.
Moses had experienced a delay in getting God’s chosen people into the Promised Land. Because of some bad decisions that he had made, he personally could not enter the Promised Land. But he had faithfully used what was in his hand – his leadership skills and abilities - and God honored them by keeping His promise and the Israelites entered the land of milk and honey promised to them…God’s purpose was complete.
Often we know what we have at our fingertips to use but things just don't seem to work out! Our response? IMPATIENCE, FRUSTRATION, QUESTIONING??
"Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this." Psalm 37:5
He will do it IN HIS TIME and IN HIS WAY… and perhaps others will complete it for us.
DELAY IS NOT DENIAL ... with God isn't a matter of time - it is a matter of circumstance!
Which brings us to HANDCUFF #3 - SUFFOCATING CIRCUMSTANCES?
One of the things that we love to hold in our hand are the fingers of a new-born baby. In 1970 I got to hold the fingers of our new baby girl, Jayme Noel, in my hand. The hopes and dreams for her were many and they included her big sister. They would play together, grow up together, laugh and cry together... live out their lives as forever sisters. One of the first things that Jayme's big sister, Stephanie, did when she saw her was to take her hand...two precious daughters, given to us by the GRAND DESIGNER of our lives to love, nourish, train, care for, play with and share her dreams for life.
But what was in our hand was taken from us 21 years later...a truly SUFFOCATING CIRCUMSTANCE!
It was unexpected and devastating ... it challenged our faith and turned our world upside-down. We were strong believers, leaders in the church, etc. and we had prayed for the protection of our children nearly every day. Now a car accident at the hands of a drunk driver had snuffed out the life of one of our two children.
QUESTION: What SOFFOCATING CIRCUMSTANCE is IN YOUR HAND today? Is it causing disappointment, set-backs, lack of direction or discouragement? Does it seem to have no purpose? Is it being used to bring deep meaning to life as God has planned?
David wrote in Psalm 68: “God arises from His holy dwelling and marches before us.”
CHALLENGE: Don't buy the valley…just borrow it to take you toward your purpose. If it is a valley that is IN YOUR HAND, use it to take you to your God-ordained destiny.
Allow the impact of your circumstance to converge with your skills and abilities so its purpose can emerge… CONVERGING INTO AN EMERGING!
God wants to turn our MESSES into MESSAGES and our TESTS into TESTIMONIES . . . IT’S IN YOUR HAND.
Paul reminds us of this truth. “The things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12
Jesus' disciple, Peter, wrote, “The dream is IN YOUR HAND and all things that have come into your life are working together to accomplish it. The question is ... what will you do with it?” I Peter 4:11 The Message
So I ask…WHAT IS IN YOUR HAND? What has handcuffed it? It’s time to fully emerge and put feet to the dream.
God has revealed what is IN YOUR HAND today... let’s use it! Grasp the hand of the Grand Designer who carefully placed your skills, abilities, life experiences and dreams within you to perform His purpose.
PRAYER OF COMMITMENT: “Dear God, we acknowledge you as the Great Designer of our lives. Today we have “attended to” what you have placed in our hands. We believe that it came from your heart to bring hope to our world. Fill us today with the power of your Holy Spirit as we take what is in our hand and partner with you to use it for Your purposes. I pray this in Jesus Name and for His sake until we stand before You with empty hands … lives poured out into our worlds as vessels for your sake.”