Friday, May 27, 2016

The Burning Bush: Paying Attention and Asking Questions

I think I have always known the story about how God speaks to Moses through the burning bush.  That's what happens when you go to Sunday School. You hear the same stories over and over until they take on a tone of familiarity. And once you have the basics down, you tend to skim over the details.

Okay, maybe that's my own experience.  

As I'm going through the Bible, I'm trying to see new things, trying to notice the details that the Sunday School teachers may have glossed over in trying to present the story of God and humanity to small children. (By the way, this is in no way critical of my Sunday School education.)

So yesterday, I was reading about Moses and how he was shepherding his father-in-law's flocks in the desert when he decided to take the sheep to new territory. Who knows why he headed off to a new area. Was he bored? What he asking questions about his purpose in life? Was he wondering about the circumstances that had led him from prince of Egypt to shepherd watching someone else's flocks? Was he grateful his life had been saved? 

The Bible doesn't tell us. But it does tell us that he went to the other side of the desert, and while he was there, he saw flames. He went to check them out and discovered a bush burning, but to this was no ordinary fire.  He asks himself why the bush isn't totally burning up. That's what fires do. They burn things up and then they spread. This fire was doing neither of those things, and so he gets closer to check it out.  

And that's when the Special Messenger, the Holy God, speaks to Moses from the center of the bush.  

The rest of the story is pretty fascinating, but this is the part that stood out to me, maybe because I'm always asking myself how I can hear God's direction in my life more clearly. And so this is my takeaway from this short passage.   
  1. Moses goes someplace new. He does something a little out of the ordinary.  We're more likely to pay attention to our surroundings if they aren't completely familiar to us.   
I gravitate to the same places and do the same things the same way.  Not always, but mostly. This lowers my anxiety level and makes me feel in control. I don't have to think about what's new. I don't have to process what I see. I can just be. And while that's probably fine some of the time, if I don't venture into new places, I am probably missing opportunities to hear God's voice speak to me in new ways.  

      2.  Moses is paying attention! He notices something new, and he goes to check it out.  He's got questions, and he wants answers. 

He could have just said, "Hey! that's weird." But instead he moves closer.  I picture him circling the bush, examining it. It's always interesting to note that God doesn't speak to Moses until he approaches the bush. God doesn't call out, "Hey, Moses. Come over here." It's only when Moses moves toward God that God calls his name.  

Much of my life is lived in automatic pilot. I do the same things over and over. Facebook has a feature that reminds users of old posts from the same day. It was freaky how they could easily have been current posts. It's quite possible that I need to shake things up in my life.

Do I want to hear God? 
Do I want to make myself available to be used by him?  Do you? 
Are we more comfortable with the status quo? Why?

What holds us back from venturing into new territory? What keeps us from seeing what's going on around us? What prevents us from looking more closely? Asking questions? 

Of note, I tend to be a little fearful of heading in new directions, and it is reassuring to remember that Moses is too, but God uses him anyway. 

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