Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:1-6 (NRSV)
God called Moses out of a burning bush that was on fire but not being consumed. For me, this is symbolic of the call of God in our lives. We might hear the call, burn with the fire of passion for God, but it doesn’t burn us up. Rather, it “lights a fire” in us that might move us to follow God’s guidance and lead us to serving God in whatever way possible.
Another thing about this story is that God calls the most unlikely people to serve! Look at Moses: adopted by an Egyptian princess, raised early in his life by his own Hebrew mother, learned the beliefs of the Hebrew people, then introduced to the ways of the Egyptian culture. However, his roots in Israel went deep, and he killed a guard who was viciously beating a Hebrew slave, so he ran – he was a wanted man.
How could God call someone who was a fugitive from justice, a murderer, and to top it all off, a Hebrew who had married a Midianite, someone who wasn’t part of his race? Well, maybe we could ask the same question about ourselves. How could God call any of us human beings, as sinful as we are. What could God even hope to accomplish through us?
When we think about the people God has called to ministry, no matter what vocation, we see that God can accomplish a lot in spite of the imperfections and faults. Moses argued with God that he wasn’t the best person since he stuttered. He didn’t even know what to call God. David was just a boy when Samuel anointed him king over all of Israel, and he had his share of sinful behaviors!
Jesus’ disciples were great examples of backsliding, faltering, misunderstanding, being argumentative, and showing all their humanness, yet Jesus was able to teach them and send them forth to be in ministry to build the Church. Many of the church reformers struggled with their calling: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John and Charles Wesley. Yet, they changed the face of the church and opened doors for many to find Christ in a variety of ways.
Where does God call us? How do we find our own burning bushes? Do we pay attention or ignore them? When we figure out that it is God’s call in our lives, do we follow through or make excuses? How can we trust that God knows what God is doing? Thoughts to ponder as we journey through life and as we strive to be faithful to our Creator who knows us better than we even know ourselves.