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Burning Bush

I doubt Moses was expecting anything other than another average day spent ranging over bleak, wind-swept highlands. The quietude of a shepherd’s calm, even mundane existence was now the engrained rhythm of decades. There was meagre forage to hunt and the unrelenting task of straying sheep. Every hillock, gorge and buttress of Midian were as familiar to him as the back of his hand. Tribal life enveloped the Ex-pat on every side like a fleecy robe; home and family holding him in the embrace he could not have dreamed possible.

Roving over rugged terrain day in, day out, however, offered plenty of scope for rumination. Lots of mental space to ponder, to regret. Even in his great contentment, the sights and sounds of Egypt came unbidden, flashing over inward eye with a tenacious and disconcerting clarity. That fierce culture, steeped in color, pageantry and the grip of powerful occult would not let him go. Once again, he stood in the court of Pharaoh, among the looming shadow of massive temples and monuments worshipping a potent dynasty. And he heard afresh the cry of Hebrew slaves forced to build them. Again the memories flooded in, impossible to completely sublimate. They haunted him as he pondered yet again his meteoric fall from grace.

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”

So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”

There are few divine encounters as dramatic as this. Although he had always walked under an inescapable destiny, Moses had yet to meet the theocratic architect.

Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:1-3, 6, 9-10

Marvelous, isn’t it, how one encounter with the Almighty suddenly aligns all the disparate pieces of a life? With God’s words, Moses’ destiny, long obscured, is revealed. Even lost time is redeemed. Moses isn’t a monumental failure, a privileged royal who squandered his status on stupidity. He’s not a displaced exile or a criminal on the run. He’s an anointed one, traveling a long-prepared path into a task so epic, only he could possibly fulfill it. But it takes a burning bush encounter to consume the confusion and set Moses back on his true path.

Beloved, in the monotony of our well-beaten paths, in the jaded despair of ordinary days, in the accumulation of drab decades, do not discount the burning bush. Though we may be quenched by countless banal demands, consumed by the guilt and lament of the past, swamped with disappointment for lost opportunities and disillusioned by life on this cruel planet, the Almighty is not finished with us yet. We may suspect our ship has long sailed and we missed it, but in fact, that magnificent craft is still slicing through the waters, straight into her desired haven.

The Lord still meets His people in the most unanticipated corners of ordinary life. His passionate zeal has not forgotten the difficulty. When we see Him, the burning bush cuts off the power of the past, opens new chapters, brings clarity out of confusion and infuses us with divine passion for the final chapter. It is holy ground where we can finally accept, without apology or regret, “This is who I am”.

Don’t give up on either yourself or your great God. No matter how grim it seems, it ain’t over, ‘till He says it is. Moses learned that as he stood on the far side of the Red Sea, and saw his past, with all horror, shame and remorse, fully and finally, drowned. Final word?

The Lord is my strength and my song, And He is become my salvation. Exodus 15:2

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