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  • Writer's pictureJohn Coleman

What’s Your Burning Bush?!

“I can’t hear you. I can’t see you.” I heard these words not too long ago in Walmart.

I rounded the aisle to see a young boy sitting in a shopping cart with his eyes closed and his fingers in his ears. His mother was trying to get his attention and he was doing his best to ignore her. I could see the exasperation in her eyes and I didn’t stick around to see the outcome of the standoff.

As children, we all employed the little boy’s tactic, and most of us still do. We

pretend not to hear or see. We get so determined to live life the way we think we should or want that we don’t take the time to hear or see anything that deviates from our plan.

I think part of our aversion is that we know if we stop and listen that it will require

something of us. We may have to change course or direction. We may see that the ground we are on is sacred, and we will have to tread lightly and we just can’t do it.

I suppose Moses had the right to cover his ears and close his eyes when he first

encountered God in the burning bush on Mount Horeb. He flees from Egypt to Midian to evade punishment for killing a man. He eventually fades into the woodwork, marries and settles down. Just when he thinks he can cruise, the God he thought he left behind in Egypt shows up. Moses sees a bush, burning, but not consumed. Bushes don’t usually do this, so Moses has to know something is up. He could move right along and avoid the bush altogether, but he doesn’t. Moses turns aside to see what is going on. (Exodus 3:3).

When God had Moses’ attention, he spoke reassuring words, telling him that he had

seen the affliction of the Israelites and that he would “deliver them from the Egyptians.”

(Exodus 3:8). What a wonderful promise of freedom. But God doesn’t leave it there. He

continues by saying that he is going to send Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses turned from his comfortable life, gave God attention and suddenly he was asked to do something.

Would you have turned? I like to think I would, but I have to admit I’m really not so

sure. I join the human race in the ability to avert my eyes and keep walking, especially

when I sense conflict, pain or demand. We walk right by the burning bushes that fill our

lives. We’re so very busy. We really don’t have time to stop-places to go, people to see, and appointments to keep.

We love comfort, but we don’t do so well with demands, do we? The first part, the

promise, is something we can live with. It’s what comes after that gives us pause. You can be a gifted teacher, but first you must go through years of dedicated training and times you’ll feel that the students you are committed to help may chew you up and spit you out. You will be a great athlete, but first you must sacrifice and suffer season after season of humiliating loss. You will lead a great company that will help employee and community alike, but you will first endure many setbacks and times when the thought of making payroll will keep you up at night.

Sometimes it’s easier to just walk on by, close our eyes and think maybe if we wish

hard enough it will all just go away. Maybe we turn, but decide to do what Moses did at

first and bargain with God. “Okay God, I’ll do this, but not that.”

I recently heard a story about one man’s burning bush. His daughter comes to him

with a drawing of her family. The father reluctantly takes a break and asks her about the picture. She describes mommy cooking dinner and her brothers crying because one hit the other. She shows herself and the book she is reading. She then points to her father. He asks her why she colored in his face. She tells him that it’s not his face but the back of his head. He is working on his computer. In an instant, he saw the flames and heard the voice.

We all have burning bushes around us: those moments where God is trying to get

our attention and engage us in the work of helping bring someone or something in bondage to the freedom of the Promised Land. But we walk on.

When we are tempted to walk on, let’s remember Moses. God’s promise contained demand, but God was with him. He was waiting for him when he got to Egypt and walked with him every step of the way to freedom. Maybe if we turned more we would hear God speak in our lives more.

Where is your burning bush today? Can you see it? Can you hear it?

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