A weary backpacker stumbles down the trail. His trusty hiking stick stops the impending fall. The young man gazes down to the woodburned letters, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” A smile lifts both corners of his mouth. This former tree branch just stopped a potentially tragic tumble down a steep mountain side. Imagine that—an ordinary piece of wood. The hiker gathers his wits and saunters merrily down the narrow, rocky path. He whistles as he walks.
Rewind a few thousand years to a lonely hillside in the land of Midian. A gentle breeze flows up the mountain side as sheep graze peacefully. A tall, tan man stands nearby. Dressed in a long white flowing robe, he rests with staff in hand and surveys his flock. He begins to count. A cry sounds out from the valley below. He turns his head sharply; his eyes narrow as he searches the distant landscape for a wildly bleating sheep. Gracefully, the robe-clothed guardian bounds down the slope, searching for his one lost sheep.
There it is. The small creature stands precariously along a rock ledge, unable to advance up the steep bank. The shepherd gently reaches down with the staff’s crook and lifts the frantic animal to safety. “Now, now, let’s not do that again,” he says and strokes the animal, calming its trembling body. The young man ascends the hill to return the lost sheep, but he notices a fire in the distance. “What’s this?” he mumbles softly. He sets the sheep down, and it prances toward its grass munching companions. The young shepherd rubs his windblown beard. “I must go over and see this strange sight.”
We read the account of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus Chapter 3 and 4. Moses’ simple wooden staff went on to play an important role in world history. With it, he inflicted plagues upon Egypt, parted the Red Sea and secured safety and victory for the Israelites. God channeled His supernatural power through that lowly shepherd’s staff.
In Exodus 17:9, Moses leaves us a key verse: So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”
Notice that Moses calls his stick the “staff of God.” When Moses encountered the Lord at the burning bush, he surrendered his staff to God. This personal tool, this private possession of Moses came to be used mightily by God. Of course, God used other things in Moses’s life—natural leadership skills, an Egyptian background, and his brother Aaron. Still, I’m amazed that God used that ordinary piece of wood. God can use the ordinary in our lives to do amazing things. He can use our ordinary talents, abilities and skills. He can use ordinary people, ordinary tools and ordinary churches. How does He do it? Simple—He is an extraordinary God.
So next time you walk down the trail with your hiking stick, remember the staff of Moses, or rather, the staff of God. What are you holding on to? God may be gently asking you, “What’s that in your hand? Give it to Me.”