Last Sunday we explored the story of Moses’ life-changing encounter with God at the burning bush in the wilderness of Horeb (Exodus 3:1–10). After 40 years of exile in Midian, God captured Moses’ attention with a strange and inexplicable sight—a bush that burned but did not burn up.
Perhaps this extremely significant encounter got you thinking: Does God still reveal Himself to us in this kind of eye-catching way today?
Now, on one level the answer is obviously no, because “…in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Heb. 1:2). Jesus Christ is God’s enfleshed, final Word to humanity. And what a Word He is; a Word full of grace and truth (John 1:14). And yet, at another level, there is little doubt that God still uses metaphorical ‘burning bushes’ to capture our attention and turn us aside.
Think about what the burning bush actually was. It was an inexplicable event. It was an occurrence that could not be explained or accounted for. The bush burned but it did not burn up. God used this inexplicable sight to draw Moses to Himself. And God, I think, still works in much the same way today in order to draw us to Himself.
So, what forms might a ‘burning bush’ take in your life?
Well obviously the answer is any number of different forms! There is no limit to the ways in which God may be at work in your life. However, I think pastor & author Tim Keller is correct to suggest there are 3 common ‘burning bushes’ God may use to capture our attention or to turn us aside.
The first is an inexplicable person. I think it would be illuminating if we could share with each other how we first came to faith in Jesus? I would venture a guess that a large percentage of us came to faith because of the influence of someone else. Someone who displayed a peculiar love, or care, or courage, or boldness that attracted us to Christ. God almost always uses His people to draw other people to Himself. (As an aside, this begs the question for those of us who are Christians: Are we a ‘burning bush’ in the life of someone else? Is someone likely to be attracted or turned aside to Christ as a result of our life and influence?)
The second ‘burning bush’ we may experience is an inexplicable trouble. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Problem of Pain: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” When life is rosy we delude ourselves into thinking it is something we can control. But when tragedy or trouble strikes, that façade of control comes crumbling down, and if we’re wise we will turn aside to the One who upholds all things (Is. 41:10) and to the One who is our rock and our refuge (Ps. 18:2).
The third ‘burning bush’ God may use in our life is an inexplicable emptiness. Though he’s not exactly a noted theologian, comedian Jim Carrey was spot on when he remarked: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer”. Sometimes God will give to us our deepest wish—that thing we think we need in order to be happy and fulfilled—so that we can experience firsthand its failure to satisfy. And again, if we’re wise we will allow such an experience to turn us aside to the One who promises eternal satisfaction (John 4:10).
Friends, do you recognise these ‘burning bushes’ in the details of your life? Don’t waste them. Don’t miss them. Let them turn you aside and drive you deeper into the arms of your Heavenly Father.
Grace and peace,