Imagine for a moment, you are standing next to Moses. You feel the heat radiating off the engulfed bush and your feet sting from the hot, hard, dessert ground. You see the white-knuckled man next to you, gripping his staff with dear life. Out of nowhere a voice booms through the branch.
“Throw down your staff.” (Exodus 4:3)
“Throw down his staff?” You are baffled. You know what that will mean for your counterpart. You know that staff has etched within its surface generations that have gone before. It is an heirloom piece.
You see the wolf claw marks on it; years of protecting flocks of sheep have given it beautiful character. It has acted as a weapon; it was Moses’ protection. “Throw down the staff?” It had guarded Moses’ primary source of income. Without it, how would he shepherd his sheep? “Throw it down, God?” His family? His safety? His finances? “Throw it down, God?”
Moses is strong. He obeys. He surrenders. 40 years in the wilderness were long enough. Down it goes. As if slow motion takes over, the staff hits the ground. “Am I seeing things?” It bounces back, not as a wooden stick, but as a lively snake.
“Grab it by its tail, Moses.” (Exodus 4:4-5)
“The most dangerous part of a snake?” You really want Moses to put his life on the line here, God? Yet, without doubt, Moses grabbed hold of the tail. Faith surges through his bones. The thing most precious thing to him, discarded, because God was dearer.
The staff was returned. It would be that very staff that ushered in the freedom of the million-plus Jews from 480 years of captivity. It was the same staff that would be held up over the watery abyss, clearing a pathway for deliverance. It was the same staff that would be raised to give Israel victory, time and time again. But without surrender, it would have merely been a stick.
Sacrifice and surrender is difficult. It is death to our pride and our security. It requires trust. But God would never ask of us something He, himself didn’t first provide. Like the ram that redeemed the laid-down Isaac from Abraham’s knife, God allowed His own son to be caught by the head in the thicket, a crown of thorns donning His brow. Jesus was like a staff, a bruised reed (Isaiah 42:3). God released Him, His most precious, that we may experience the ultimate freedom, freedom from sin.
What is it that you are white-knuckling? Gripping with all your might, so dreadfully fearful of loosing? Will you trust Him with it today? Only when you release your grasp will you see the precious gifts of God poured out: supernatural miracles, doubtless purpose and unmovable faith. And friend, there is nothing more precious in the world than these.