A few weeks ago our Old Testament reading told the story of Moses and the Burning Bush. It’s one of those stories I think I know so well, but am still able to find new meaning–and hear a new message–when I listen to it again. This time, I realized the God may ignite burning bushes along my path when he wants to get my attention and call on me to take action.
Moses And The Burning Bush
As Exodus 3 unfolds, Moses seems to be living an average life, tending animals that belong to his his father-in-law. By the time the chapter ends, Moses has seen God and learned God’s plan for him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt into the promised land of milk and honey.
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey …. “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Here I Am, Lord
As I heard these words, I thought of times when something–or someone–caught my eye and caused me to turn away from the path I was on.
Most frequently, I catch a glimpse of a spectacular sunrise that has me detouring to get a better view. But sometimes my mission is more like Moses’s. Sometimes, I see a person in need and something about the person or the situation stops me in my tracks–or nags at me to double back–and has me saying, “How can I help?” Sometimes I hear about a need and feel called to take it on, saying “I can do this.”
Chapter 3 of Exodus ends before Moses accepts God’s calling. It ends with Moses asking God how he could possibly “go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” It ends with him asking what he could say to the people of Israel to get them to listen to him. In chapter 4, every reassuring answer from God leads Moses to ask another question, doubting his abilities and even asking God to ” please send someone else.” But God promises to provide the signs, the words, and the miracles it will take to fulfill the mission.
When God ignites a burning bush along my path, my first reactions may be like Moses’s. I may look around for someone more powerful or eloquent or wealthy to answer the need. But hearing this story again, I was reminded that if my heart and hands are willing, God will make them able. Hearing this story again, I was reminded that when God gets my attention, my response should be simple:
Here I am, Lord. How can I help?