Use What You Have — Shamgar’s Ox Goad

March 9, 2024

Use What You Have

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.

“What is that in thine hand?” The Lord once asked Moses (Exodus 4:2).  It was just a rod — his humble shepherding tool.  Nothing special to look at I’m sure.  But with the power of God coursing through it, the rod became a feared symbol of God’s might.  

The same is so with Shamgar and his lowly ox goad, the tool of his trade; something of which he took not a second thought.  The object he knew so well, holding it in his hand since boyhood, now took on a life of its own through Shamgar’s trust in God to deliver the enemies of Israel into his hand.  But Shamgar had to do the work!  He had to take a first fearful step and fall fully on the Lord’s strength.  

Use what you have!  Use what is familiar and comfortable in your hand.  Take that first step and fall full weight on the Lord.

For me, that mighty weapon is the humble pencil.  From a pencil came the ministry of Illustrated Evangelism (visit ministries webpage here, scroll to bottom). From the pencil have come my journal pages full of stories and lessons gathered on the mission field.  Stories to share with you.  

Use what you have, whether a literal object (pencil, guitar, etc) or a more figurative gift (hospitality, teaching etc).  That which the Lord has placed in your hand, now place back into His hand for Him to use through you.  You will be amazed at what He can do with simple things!

Post Script:

Some years back, I wrote a blog post on this same topic which you may read here.  After struggling to understand my God-given place in the ministry in Sierra Leone, the Lord used Exodus 4:2 to clear my mind of confusion, doubts, and questions.  Now, these many years later, the same answer is spoken to my heart from the pages of scripture in the story of Shamgar.  As I slowly regain my health, the Lord has spoken to my heart nearly every day this week, assuring me that He’s not done with me yet; that there is still work He has for me, both in art and writing.  And that I am to now start taking those baby steps while trusting Him and falling fully on His strength. 

Sketches in the “idea and planning” stage along with one of my journals and an assortment of pencils, the common, familiar tools which the Lord graciously allows me to use for Him.

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  1. Betty on March 12, 2024 at 7:09 pm

    My Dearest Friend, I have enjoyed the gifts that God has given you and you have shared for years now. You always have the knack of making me feel I was there with you in your many adventures. I smiled and cried when I saw your art work in book form teaching so many. I was overjoyed when I saw the photos of the villagers being taught with many canvas hangings. I imagine for most it was the first real understanding of Jesus Christ our Savior.

    I love you very much and pray for you and your family often. It gives me great joy to know your health is improving. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  2. Laura Malm on March 14, 2024 at 5:17 pm

    Praise the Lord! Thank you for this reminder today!

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