When Francis Bellamy first wrote the now infamous Pledge of Allegiance for the United States of America back in 1892, he also provided some instructions as to how people should position their hands while reciting its words. For nearly five decades, children were taught in schools that when the pledge was read, their arms should be stretched out towards the US flag, with the palm of the hand facing down.
It was not until 1942, when the United States joined forces with other allied countries like France and Britain to go to war with Nazi Germany, that a special ‘flag code’ was written and adopted by Congress. This code recommended that instead of accompanying the pledge with hands stretched out, hands placed over hearts would be a more suitable position to demonstrate our patriotism.
This was primarily due to the fact that Germany had adopted a similar hand salute when pledging allegiance to its flag and leader, Adolph Hitler. In fear of having any form of association with Germany and its values, the flag code was created, and the hearts of Americans have been covered by hands during our pledge and national anthem ever since.
It is important to note however that the positioning of hands over hearts is not an American invention, but one that originated with God and a man named Moses at the base of mountain in Egypt. In fact, the repositioning of hands over heart can serve as a blueprint to discover the calling and purpose God has for our lives.
In Exodus 4:1-2, even after God had already demonstrated His miraculous power by speaking to Moses through a burning bush, Moses begins to ask God what should he do if the Egyptians, whom God was sending him to deliver out from slavery, would not accept him or his message. God’s reply in this passage of scripture was nothing short of remarkable.
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.
It is interesting that when God was asked to encourage Moses concerning the calling He had placed on his life, he did not do so by asking Moses to describe what he had in his ‘heart,’ something that would have seemed quite natural to us as believers. It is very common for us to believe that the plans and thoughts God has for our families or our careers are just a reflection of the desires of our own hearts. We have adopted the common flag code that what our hearts feel inside is what will move God’s hands to perform on the outside, however our purpose in God is rarely framed by simply what we have a passion for.
They are often framed by what we have a possession of already.
As a shepherd, Moses’ prized possession was his staff. It’s what he had in his hand. It’s what he had used for years in protecting his sheep and cattle. It’s what he used in order to climb tall mountains, and to reach distant fruit from trees. What Moses already had experience using, God was fixated on redeeming.
If today you find yourself frustrated that your life goals and desires are not coming to pass, it may be time to pledge what’s in your hand over what’s in your heart. Today’s experiences will soon become tomorrow’s resume. So take heart, have patience and steward well what God has already given you.