And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses.” And he said, “Here I am.” – Exodus 3:1-4
Moses was just doing his thing, living his life as an outcast – a murdering outcast. He was doing his job, taking care of the sheep of his father-in-law, minding his own business when all of a sudden – What? What is happening with that bush? It’s on fire but… but it’s not burning up. There has to be something going on here. God presented himself to Moses as the something-going-on-here.
God had a plan for Moses from the get go. He had been listening to His people’s legitimate groanings for years. He remembered – like God needs to remember. Like a God who exists outside of time maybe forgot for awhile but all those groanings jogged his memory.
God saw the people of Israel – and God knew. – Exodus 2:25
God knew that it was time. He knew that the Israelites were ready, that Egypt was ready, that Moses was ready. How did He know? The same way He knew when you were ready to meet that person or read that thing or change jobs or move to another country. He’s the God of everybody. He just knows.
So He decided/knew the time was ripe for an exodus (hey! that’s the name of the book!) and He set off to introduce Himself to Moses, the man of the hour, the Hebrew-killer who was going to liberate a nation. Right after he gets the sheep back to dad.
God presented Himself to Moses in a flame. A flame that did not consume. A bright, illuminating, powerful and yet controlled flame. Moses’ interest was peaked. God did the showing up, Moses did the responding. And all it took was Moses turning aside, all it took was an interested second look, and suddenly Moses is chatting it up with the God of the universe.
I wonder what would’ve happened if Moses hadn’t turned aside. What if he had been looking down at his iPhone or distracted by his responsibilities and he had passed right on by the burning bush, catching a glimpse of it out of the corner of his eye but categorizing it as “not my problem?”
What it? Well, God is patient, merciful, and He pursues us so He would’ve gotten to Moses eventually, one way or another. He’s God and what He purposes happens so His people would’ve been free one way or another. Moses, on the other hand, would’ve missed out on the awesome opportunity to talk face to flame with God. He might not have heard those words, “take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is a holy ground.” He might have spent days, weeks, months, years more as nothing more than a distracted outcast taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep.
God shows up. But it’s up to us to notice, to decide to turn aside, to take a second look. Look around. You might be standing on holy ground.