when there’s a burning bush

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement…..

“Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people out of Egypt?”

God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob–has sent me to you.

This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.

[Exodus 3:1-2;9-15]

I’ve thought this week a lot about Moses and how many times he protested God’s call for him to lead the people out of Egypt.

I’m not up for this, God. I’m not good with words. What if they don’t believe me? What if they hate me? Send someone else, please. Please.

Moses begged, Moses fought back, he fought against the call because fear was real and obeying God seemed like an impossible task. He was afraid to lead.

There are burning bushes in my life — a metaphor instead of a real smoke-in-your-face-what-is-happening-panic that I’m sure Moses felt that day while he was tending to his sheep.

I look at Moses and don’t understand why he constantly protested God. I know the end of the story: the staff-turned-into-a-snake, the plagues and the parting sea and daily manna. I don’t understand why it was so hard for Moses to trust that God was going to guide and equip him to be the leader he was called to be.

But I only have to look at my own life to see that the same fear, same protestations, same resistance is not far from my door-step. Moses and I share a lot more in common than I would like to admit.

Perhaps one of the biggest things I’ve learned about myself in my twenties is that I am a feeler. We talk a lot about “feelers” and “thinkers” and how people perceive the world. For me, my first way of processing events and changes and life circumstances is feelings-oriented. And I love to talk about it. I’m an extroverted-feeler-processor and always want to name the feelings, explain them, connect them so others can understand me and so I can better understand the world.

It’s a good thing, a good trait to have. It enables me to be empathetic and kind, emotionally intelligent and available.

But the thing about having so many feelings is that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and to run away and protest when God and a burning bush are standing in front of you. The feelings are real and intense: the feelings of fear, inadequacy, loneliness, and hurt.

The feelings sometimes scream “no!”, because the task seems impossible and unexpected, the steaks way too high, the fear so close and petrifying.

I am on a journey about trust, about me and God learning how to walk together, and me how to trust him. I’m learning how to be honest, learning to how to express the feelings, how to tell him I’m lonely, I’m scared, I’m sad, I’m confused, I’m heartbroken.

But I also want to learn how to do that while trusting him at the same time — never denying the feelings, never denying the fear. I don’t want to deny being human, feeling so small in the midst of the Goliaths, holding a small sling shot.

Yet I don’t want to spend too much time protesting and resisting. When I think about what God carried Moses through, I’m amazed. And I’m sure Moses was humbled to have been given the task he was given to do — the call to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Imagine if he had insisted God pick someone else and decided to stay in the fear. Imagine if he hadn’t let God work through him and just stayed in Midian, ignoring the burning bush that was telling him to go and do what God had made him to do.

I’m trying to learn from Moses. I want to take off my sandals too, as I stand on holy ground. I’m trying to be honest with my feelings, honest about being human and that it isn’t a bad thing to be afraid, it isn’t wrong to feel scared or lonely.

But I don’t want the fear to hold me back. I don’t want the confusion to be an obstacle to keep moving one foot in front of the other. Because I too have seen the staff be turned into a snake, I’ve seen miracles happen in my own life. I’m watching God use my passions for people and politics and justice come together. I’m still watching him work through my anxiety.

I have reason to trust. I have reason not to flee from the burning bush.


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