Thursday, April 14, 2005

Barefoot at the Burning Bush

Back when I was in the Presbyterian church, my old pastor and I used to have a running discussion about Moses and the desert and the burning bush (see Exodus 3). At the time, we were both trying to understand our own circumstances and callings in the flickering light of that paradigm. We began to develop a theory that when Moses ran from Egypt and fled to the desert, maybe it was not originally a desert at all. Maybe it was a lush and lovely forest. Not the backside of the desert, but the backwoods.

So maybe one day, God decides to get Moses’ attention, because He has something that He wants to do in and with and through Moses. And so He sets one of those trees on fire — torches it as a fiery beacon of His presence. But Moses isn't paying attention, and so he misses it.

The next day, God tries again. Whoompsh! Another tree bursts into flames. Again, Moses misses it. But God doesn't give up — He never gives up.

And so, day after day, greatly desiring to do a mighty work for and with Moses, God lights up trees and bushes and shrubs. And day after day, Moses, maybe absorbed with being rejected by his people, and perhaps remembering the princely courts of Egypt which adorned his former days, doesn't even notice.

Months pass. Years go by, until, one day, Moses no longer dwells in a lush and lovely forest at all, but in a dry and dusty desert. He no longer thinks about what once was or what might have been. He is an old man now.

But there is one last little bush left. And God hasn't given up — He never gives up. So He sets this one last little bush on fire. But He cannot let it be consumed by the flames because it is the last little bush.

Now we know from Scripture that Moses does eventually see the burning bush, but we are never told how long it took. Could've been days. Could've been months. Could've been years. The bush burning all the while. But finally! Moses looks and, behold! The bush is burning with fire and is not consumed. Moses says to himself, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn” (v. 3).

It is at that moment, when Moses turns aside from his routine, from his own thoughts and his own ways — it is at that moment that God calls out to him from the midst of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses stepped into a life-changing, world-changing encounter with the Lord of heaven and earth.

God says that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). He calls us to trust in Him with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Are you ready to turn aside from your own ways and thoughts to embrace His? A wonderful adventure awaits.

(You can read more about this "barefoot adventure" in Walking Barefoot: Living in Prayer, Faith & the Power of God, from Walking Barefoot Ministries. Also at Amazon in print and Kindle.)