The Welford family make an annual Easter pilgrimage to Skegness, where the coast is low, the sea is cold, and modern windmills proliferate a short distance offshore. We don’t come to Skegness to gaze at the unspectacular coastline or the windmills that seem to float on the sea. We come to Skegness because of Spring Harvest, an annual Christian event in which followers of Jesus populate an entire Butlin’s resort for five days.
The Spring Harvest theme for 2016 is ‘Game Changers’. While there are many game changers in the Bible (Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul to name but a few) we are being reminded this week that God calls us all to be game changers. The subject for the first day was ‘Encounter.’ We learned about the encounters Moses had with God. I hadn’t thought about it before, but Moses was probably not comfortable working as a shepherd in the desert, even after forty years. However, during his burning bush encounter with God Moses clearly thought that being a shepherd was a better option than confronting the very powerful Pharaoh armed only with a wooden walking stick.
Yesterday we moved from encounter to enlistment. Just as God enlisted Moses, so He enlists us. Moses was eighty years old when enlisted and given the task of submitting a request to Pharaoh concerning the future of his workforce of Hebrew slaves. One speaker (Simon Ponsonby) said; “You are never to old to be put to service for God.” Simon pointed out that God used what Moses had in his hand – a stick! God is not asking us to use what we haven’t got. Rather He asks what we do have, and then He uses it supernaturally. Jesus did this when He used the contents of a small boy’s lunch box to feed thousands of people. The question is what do we have that Jesus can use? One speaker said that ‘God is far more interested in our availability than our ability.’ We may face or even erect hurdles to God using us, but what appears to be a hurdle for us is nothing to God.
Another speaker (Nathan Foster) gave a reminder that temptation is one of the hurdles we face as Satan tries to deflect us from the God-given task in hand. Nathan told how jellybeans were used in a Sunday School class his son had attended. The jellybeans were labelled and his son apparently took great delight in telling his father that he had eaten the black jellybean labelled ‘sin,’ and that it had tasted good. Jesus faced the black jellybean of sin immediately after being baptised in the Jordan. Three times Satan tried to tempt Jesus and three times Jesus demonstrated how to deal with even the most extreme temptation.
We should expect encounters with God. Why wouldn’t we? Is it because we are apprehensive of being enlisted? I was apprehensive when I enlisted in the Merchant Navy as a sixteen-year old boy (age is no barrier!) but I was also excited about the prospects ahead. We should be excited about the ways in which God will use us if we enlist. The black jellybean of temptation will never be far away but it will never be as close to us as Jesus is, if we are fully surrendered to Him. Are you?
But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”
Then the Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.
“Throw it down on the ground,” the Lord told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.
Then the Lord told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand. (Exodus 4:1-4 NLT)