A Staff or a Needle

When it was time for me to leave home to attend Toronto Teachers College, I wanted new clothes. After all, I was on my way to the big city! I presented my request to my mother and she told me to go to the closet and bring back the green garbage bag. The ‘bag’ meant lots of old clothes, someone else’s cast offs. My heart sank. No way would I continue to wear charity garments, not after many years of hand-me-downs.

I dragged the bag to the bedroom and Mom began to pull out each item, one by one. I inwardly groaned. Ugly, tired rags. My visible displeasure in no way stopped her in her mission. She held up a very large, faded wool coat, “I’ll bet this was a really good coat in its day.” It may have been, but it sure isn’t good now!

Mom laid the coat on the bed, unbuttoned the opening and spread it all out, inside facing up. She lifted the worn lining and hiding underneath lay beautiful pink-grey wool, looking just like new. What is her point?

“If you take these panels apart, and lay your pattern on like this, I’m sure you could make yourself a beautiful suit.” I was quite annoyed by now, for I knew our sewing machine was long gone, sold to help pay the bills when Mom became the family breadwinner in our home.

“And how can I sew a heavy wool suit without a sewing machine?” I dared ask.

Quietly, yet firmly, she replied, “With a needle and thread.”

I had no idea how to proceed with just a needle and thread, a seemingly insurmountable task. I had no other options for my wardrobe so I began. I was thankful that the coat’s large size made cutting the fabric simpler. Hesitating at first, and then with growing excitement, I created a fully lined and interfaced suit. To my surprise, the hand-made garment became my favourite to wear for the entire year.

When reluctant Moses questioned God about his inability to lead the children of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt, God asked, “What is in your hand?” Moses experienced a dramatic illustration of God’s power when he gave God his staff … from staff to snake and back to staff again.

Many times as a leader I’m tempted to compare myself to others. When I have it all together like Mary, then I’ll take on this task. When I can write like Jerry, I’ll send off my article for publishing.

What incredible blessings I miss when I assume God is limited by my inabilities.

I can almost hear my mother’s voice saying, “It’s not what you have, but what you do with what you have that matters.” So I’m picking up my needle and proving once again that, with God’s help, what I already have may very well be enough for today’s need.

 

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