"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.'
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.
Then the Lord said to him, 'Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.' So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a snake in his hand."
Exodus 4: 1-5 (NIV)
“How do you eat an elephant?” Mom likes to remind me when I’m bemoaning the three hundred math problems I need to complete by Wednesday.
“One bite at a time.”
How do you live daringly...change the world…pursue your dream…fulfill your destiny?
One surrender at a time.
Don't you just love Moses? He makes for great movies and provides endless fodder for my overactive imagination.
What’s more, we both greatly dislike snakes!
But Moses wasn't just afraid of snakes, you know. He frustrates me with his inferiority complex and struggles with doubt, until I realize I’m annoyed because he is only echoing my own pleas to God.
Here we see him making the right choice (something he didn’t do much of in these beginning chapters of Exodus) and surrendering. In obedience to God’s command, Moses tossed to the ground the staff in his hand, the tool of his livelihood, the symbol of the new beginning he had made in Midian after those tumultuous years of growing up in Pharaoh’s royal household.
Only to watch as the staff slithered across the ground.
Hold up. Wait a minute. That is sooooo not what I expected here! he may have thought as he darted as far away from the snake and the burning bush as he could get.
Can’t you just hear the complaint running through his mind? This is NOT the morning I had planned when I kissed Zipporah goodbye.
The problem is Moses forget that surrendering means... well, surrendering. It means relinquishing all our rights and laying them on the altar. It means giving up complete control to Christ.
It means that the staff can become a snake, it can bud, it can become whatever God wants it to be.
And oftentimes we don’t like that, because we already have plans for the staff.
Moses certainly did. He was a shepherd. He had a very real flock that needed a very real staff. No snake required, thank you very much.
When Moses saw just how powerful was His God and just what his little staff could become once God got a hold of it, fear grabbed him by the throat and held on tight.
How often do I do that? How often do I take my dreams to God, lay them at His feet, cry over them, pray a sincere prayer of surrender... then just as God is beginning to work His wonders, do His thing, and transform my little hopes and vision into His, I balk. W-Wait a minute, God. I think we need to discuss this first…
Two years ago I would never have imagined that writing a short devotional and having the guts to submit it to a ministry I've respected for years, would release a flood. I've watched as God opened door after door for me to write for several amazing ministries, complete a novel, the sequel to said novel, another, completely different, novel and attend a writer’s conference!
One year before that I would have never thought that I would raise money for Haiti in a read-a-thon or begin a blog.
One year before that…
And the list goes on and on…and I’m sure it will only continue to grow as the years are added to this heart.
After every surrender, God takes my trembling hand and transforms my ordinary staff and ordinary dreams, turning them completely on their head.
And I get downright terrified.
Sometimes I’m so excited that I jump and down, worshipping, shouting for joy, squealing until my dogs go crazy with me.
But most of the time, like Moses, I glance around, searching for a place to run and hide. I can't possibly do this. This is not what I bargained for.
Then God tenderly speaks to my heart. Oh, no, honey. You can’t be frightened yet. This is only the beginning.
And I cry, Are you sure? I’m not certain I can take much more.
There’s a cosmic nod and chuckle. I’m just getting started.
So I take a deep breath and follow Moses’ lead and ...reach for the snake.
By the tail.
Always by the tail.
Why is that?
He knows my fears. He hears my doubts. He sees my trembling. He holds my hand.
And He is a patient God. He doesn’t reveal His extraordinary plan all at once (He knows that I’d just faint). He gives it to me piece by piece, step by step, day by day. Tail first. If He had revealed up front all the craziness my life would be, I would have balked. But He didn’t. All He said was, “Write.” And I did.
Moses grabbed his staff-turned-snake by the tail end. He didn’t grab the head, where the full potential of its Pharaoh-plucking-power lay. Just the tail.
This month we've talked a lot about daring. It has been so much fun to journey through Daring December with you! But what is the next step? How to go about grabbing God’s daring plan? First, surrender. Then, take the one step you can see, do the one thing you know to do, or pray the one prayer He is leading you to pray.
Throw it on the ground. Surrender.
Grab it by the tail. Trust
And hang on. It’s a wild ride!