by Karen Webb
It was 2008, one of the most difficult years of my life. We had come from a season of abundance and plenty in many ways, into a time of famine and drought. Much like Naomi when she said in Ruth, chapter 1, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty” I was suffering loss in many areas of my life. Job loss for the 3rd time, our home that once resounded with life and laughter was quickly becoming quiet as our firstborn set off for college and within a few months our second son signed papers to join the Marines. Friends who felt like family were removed…and, our thirteen year pastoral ministry that once thrived was hanging by a thread. It seemed everywhere I turned life as I’d known it was being stripped away.
Walking through that year was one I will never forget. My heart was broken, my vision blurred, my faith tested. I knew the Lord was near; in many ways I felt His Presence more powerfully than ever, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around all that He was doing. Have you ever had a time in your life like that…when things just didn’t make sense? I knew God was not the author of confusion, but boy was I confused in the moment at what He was doing, or what He was allowing in my life!
So, I did the only thing I knew to do, I cried out to Him to “teach me Your ways and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your Name (Psalm 86:11). I cried, Lord, “You have torn us to pieces but You will heal us; You have injured us but You will bind up our wounds!” (Hosea 6:1) And, ever so slowly, God began His healing work.
Not too many months later, on June 7, 2009, I was studying Exodus 3. In it Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law and he ended up on the far side of the desert in Horeb (or Sinai), the mountain of God. “There” it says in verse 2, “the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.” He too was in a season of life that he didn’t understand and something that had never happened before was about to happen to him.
Moses saw a “strange sight.” He saw this bush that was on fire but was not burning up. Hmm, he thought. I have to go see why this bush that’s in flames doesn’t burn up. Then it says, “When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush.” He called Moses by name and Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer.” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then God began to reveal Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (the covenant keeping God); then later in the chapter as the I AM (Everything you’ll ever need). He also revealed His call on Moses’ life.
I wrote this blog post late that night…
“The burning bush is you and me! Look at it again. Something caught Moses’ eye. He saw a “strange sight.” It was a burning bush that didn’t burn up. On this earth we will go through fiery trials. But Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed!” The Old Testament burning bush is a shadow (picture) of the New Testament “living sacrifice!!” (Romans 12:1)
When people see us going through something extremely painful but we are not bitter, we’re not angry, we’re not “burnt up” by the flames or feeling sorry for ourselves; rather, like the three Hebrew children in the book of Daniel we are walking through the flames with Jesus in our midst, they will have to stop like Moses and say, “What is this strange sight! Why are they on fire but they’re not burnt up?” And God will speak from within the bush to reveal Himself to us in ways that we’ve never experienced before. Could we live like that?
When God said to Moses, “Do not come any closer… take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” First of all, the ground was holy because God was present. And I think He was saying to Moses, I want you to recognize I AM God, and you are my child (take your shoes off, humble yourself like a barefoot child). Then, we will have sweet fellowship and I will show you MORE of who I AM!
Eight years later I’m still asking, still seeking, still knocking…every question doesn’t have an answer but my heart’s desire is Lord, show me MORE of who You are from within the flames of life.