I’ve been very busy lately. I’ve been busy bungee jumping, busy making mountains out of molehills, busy trying to move those mountains that I made because now they’re in my way. But mostly I’ve been busy searching for the burning bush. Why the burning bush, you ask? After all, there are plenty of things on fire these days. Does it have to be a bush? Will any bush do? And what could I possibly want with a burned out bush? These are things I am sure you must be thinking right about now.
I am looking for a burning bush because that’s where God is, where God speaks, where His voice is heard. At least that’s where Moses met God and heard His voice – at the burning bush. So naturally, I’m on the lookout for a burning bush. I want to hear from God like Moses did. I want some clear direction, some reassurance that I’m on the right path. Ok, I know we’re supposed to walk by faith and not by sight, but is it so wrong to want the burning bush experience?
So my search for a burning bush continues. Moses was tending flocks when he had his encounter. It went down like this. “Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.’ When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ . . . Then He (God) said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.” (Exodus 3:2-6)
It was during this burning bush encounter that Moses received his marching orders from God, so to speak. God wanted Moses to go to Egypt and free the enslaved Israelites. No small task to be sure, but God promised His presence would be with Moses at all times. This would be the first of many conversations between God and Moses and God did indeed go with him. During Moses’ and the Israelites’ days in the desert, God’s presence was in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, both displaying His visible presence abiding with them, leading, guiding and protecting His people every step of the way. God’s presence does all those things and more. Who wouldn’t want His presence in the burning bush experience?
Now there are plenty of fires burning all around me nowadays. But these fires are burning things up, unlike the bush that Moses saw burning and yet not burned up. This is what got Moses’ attention in the first place. I’m sure it would get my attention too. But am I looking in all the wrong places? Elijah wanted a word with God, he was alone and in danger and didn’t know what to do. He didn’t get a burning bush conversation, however. This is what happened to him –
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, . . . The Lord said to him,” (1 Kings 19:11-15)
Interesting isn’t it, this time God wasn’t in the fire. His voice was in the gentle whisper that came after wind, earthquake and fire. It was then Elijah heard God’s voice and received His instructions about what to do next. “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. . . . ” (1 Kings 19:15) Maybe I don’t need a burning bush in order to hear a word from God. (actually I have a book full of words from God, which Moses didn’t have at the time of his burning bush meeting)
Even now, I confess – a song is running through my head and it seems particularly relevant to right now. “This is my Father’s world, He shines in all that’s fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.” (old hymn) God is speaking – I just need to be still and to listen! He will speak to me anywhere and everywhere. In fact Psalm 19:1-4 tells me that God is doing just that, speaking to me non-stop –
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
burning bushes abound – speak Lord, for your servant is listening –
sincerely, Grace Day