Time to read: a donut and a short black) doughnut and short black)
What You Have In Your Hand: Repurposing your talents
We have things at hand the Lord expects us to use for his glory, yet we wait for special instruments, life-changing sermons to come to mind, a more cultured voice or something professionally fashioned.
When we look at biblical heroes, they used what they were proficient and comfortable with — what was in their hand.
We rarely think of our hands unless they are incapacitated in some way or missing, yet, we spend a lot of time worrying about whether we have a calling. The Lord talks a lot about the victories wrought by his hand, and we wonder when we will be given the tools to win the bigger battles for him ourselves.
I want to re-share with you the short story of the biblical Judge Shamgar, a nobody who was elevated to Judge of Israel by using what he had in his hand. Shamgar's story is contained in a brief section of the book of Judges, possibly at the tail end of Ehud's ministry. If you missed it, I understand. His feat is overshadowed by Samson's accomplishments, and his lineage may be under question, as so little is written of him.
The background of the times of Shamgar is mentioned in Deborah's song. Judges 5:6, "In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways."
The days were grim in Israel's south-west. Those living close to the border of the Philistines wouldn't travel on the main roads for fear of being robbed or murdered by them. Farmers and country people feared to live outside a walled city for the same reason.
Then we learn that God raised up Shamgar's ministry in Judges 3:31 "And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel." Short, isn't it?
Although brief, God put on Shamgar's heart to physically oppose the thieving, marauding Philistines. An ox goad (a cattle prod) is what Shamgar had in his hand. It was what he used often and was familiar with as a tool of peace, but God repurposed it for an instrument of battle.
But, let's look at it realistically. What can one man with an ox goad do against 600 people? Think about it. Could Goliath with his massive spear and sword go up against 600 people? I doubt it. Othniel, Caleb's son-in-law and the first judge slaughtered Goliath's forefathers.
However, what one man with an ox goad can do under the power of the Holy Spirit is another thing altogether.
God made this basic farmer a judge over Israel, be it all minor. It seems his historic slaughter was sudden as if the Holy Spirit said as the enemy came across the field to steal, "up and fight. I will be with you." He used what was in his hand. He didn't have time to throw out a fleece as did Gideon, nor question his own abilities, as did Moses. He just grabbed his ox goad, ran into battle and flayed them bare like a warrior who had done the same thing a thousand times.
THIS is what the Holy Spirit can do for you using what you have in your hand. Are you good at speaking? Then speak of Jesus Christ. Are you a writer or a singer? Then use that pen, computer or voice to write or sing about the Saviour. Do you play sport? Then let that sport be the avenue for communication about the changes in your life and that fact of Heaven. Are you a pray-er? Then run into the battle and pray to defend people against the enemy.
When Moses was a shepherd in Midian, he used a rod to control sheep. God called him to ministry, then turned that rod into a staff of authority over the nations of Egypt and Israel.
When David was a shepherd like Moses, he used a sling to defend his father's sheep. God turned that into a sling to defend his spiritual father's sheep, Israel. Later, as King, he used his unashamedness to show people of his love for God. Further, he used his poetic nature to write as much as he could about the intricacies of his relationship with him.
Solomon, when following God, used his intelligence to document wisdom and understanding, helping millions make better decisions.
Elijah, after the brook dried up where the ravens were feeding him, was told by God to visit a poor widow. What Elijah used to keep them all alive during that famine was a small pot of oil and a handful of oats in a barrel, a meal for one person. That's what was in his hand. The Lord turned that into satisfying meals for three people for weeks, maybe months.
Jesus took a mere five loaves and two fishes and turned them into a fulfilling meal for five thousand people.
Peter had a sword. (Oops. let's not mention that one). After that, he used his testimony, both of being a direct witness to Christ's life, persecution and death, as well as his own personal failures, to tell people about the love of his Saviour.
Paul was stubborn. God turned the stubbornness he once had against Christ into a tool to overcome all obstacles and preach of the salvation he found on the road to Damascus. He used his tent-making occupation as a means of sharing his views on Christ; telling others that all his pursuits are dung compared to what he has found in Jesus.
The Bible has many instances of followers using what they had in their hand to defend, protect, and communicate. The disciples also had in their hand the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the testimony of Jesus Christ in their hearts. With these extra tools, they changed the world.
We don't need ox goads, staves, ass jawbones or slings, but we do need the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of Jesus Christ in our hearts. Following that, the Lord will use any and every skill we have if we lay them down at his feet for his use as he sees fit. The Lord is a master craftsman who can repurpose anything, regardless of how worthless you might think it is, into an honourable instrument in his ministry. Offer all you have and see the changes take place.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, I think I have little you'd be interested in, but I offer what I have to you to repurpose for your Kingdom's glory. Please show me what else I can do, and give me the strength and humility to offer more of my skills and talents for your profitable use.
Photo by Paul Alnet