Surrender is a hard word. We want to trust God and let him do what he deems best, but we often have our caveats, like “God I want to serve you, but please don’t let [fill in the blank] happen,” or “God I want to serve you anywhere . . . except [fill in the blank].”

Moses was a bit like that. When God told Moses to free the Israelites from slavery, Moses questioned God (see Exodus 3). Moses had many doubts and many fears; he came up with many excuses. But then God asked Moses for what was in his hand:

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. (Exodus 4:2–3)

God used that staff to demonstrate his miraculous power to Moses. But consider the moment before the miracle, when God first asked Moses to lay it down. What did the staff represent to Moses? His identity as a shepherd, his income as a business owner, and his influence as a man in his community.

Like Moses, we may have fears and excuses. We, too, we must be willing to lay down our income, lay down our status, lay down our perfectionism, lay down our finances, lay down our children, lay down our relationships, lay down our self-pursuits. When Jesus asks us to pick up our cross and follow him, it’s a call to lay down our desires and pick up his.

Bianca Juarez Olthoff is the author of Play with Fire: Discovering Fierce Faith, Unquenchable Passion, and a Life-Giving God (Zondervan). She is also the Chief Storyteller for The A21 Campaign and the Creative Director for Propel Women.