Friday, August 17, 2012

Remove your sandals... this is Holy Ground

Mt. Horeb

Moses was busy doing what he was suppose to be doing, he was caring for his father-in-law's flocks. Then God --- put a burning bush before him.

It was up on the mountain, Mt. Horeb (also called Mt. Sinai), the same mountain where Moses would later receive the Ten Commandments.
Moses saw the bush. 
The verse jumped off the page at me as i read through this old, old story again last week.  
Moses SAW the bush. 
I wonder, were there other flock tenders out that day? Was anyone else given the chance to see the burning bush or was it hidden from all others except Moses' eyes?

"Moses saw..."
The fullness of the verses read: "There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought,  'I will go over and see this strange sight -- why the bush does not burn up.' When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush..." Exodus 3: 2-4a

First -- Moses saw ----
Next -- Moses thought ---
Then -- Moses went over to look ---

Moses was not passive, he was not complacent; Moses was active and attentive. We children of God would do well to make note of that.

After God called from within the bush --- the first thing God told Moses to do --- "Take off your sandals -- you are on Holy Ground... "(v.5). God clarified for Moses who it was that was speaking to him --- "I am the God of your father..." (v.6) and what did Moses do?
He hid his face --- because he was afraid to look at God. (v.6)

Oh my soul --- how these long ago written words have vibrated inside me for 7 days now.

How many burning bushes have gone unnoticed?
How many of us have a "burning bush" of sorts in our life, that we are either too busy to notice or too focused to stop and have thought over. How many of us are so time restrained that we would dismiss the thought of going over to look at it even if we did have eyes to see it. So attentive to the clock and the schedule the tasks and the plans, that we miss the burning bushes of our lives. And then how many of us ---- don't want to see those unsettling burning bushes?

Not for a second am i being critical or negative. I'm carefully using the pronoun "us" here. I believe God has opened my eyes to understand --- Moses was no more "special" than any one else. He was broken enough though --- to be in the desert tending the sheep and goats that belonged to another man -- so he was in a position to "see" what another might have missed. He was willing to pause, think, and go look. And he was obediently humble. He took off his shoes and hid his face ---- for he understood, he was on Holy Ground and the Holy One was in front of him.

Moses was not watching for a burning bush in his life. In no way does scripture lead us to interpret Moses was waiting for a great "call". Moses was doing the thing that was in front of him ---- obediently. But he was willing to notice when the bush burst into flames, and yet did not burn up. Moses was watchful but not expectant. Then when it was before him, he was curious enough to approach and stunned enough to listen.

All this captures me.
To be positioned to "see".
To be willing to approach and listen.
And then ---- to obey...

Moses words --- "Here I am..."
For those of you who have heard the specifics of my personal call to full time service in Kenya -- you know -- it was while singing an old hymn that my mouth refused to follow the guidance of my mind. The words were in front of me on the hymnal page, but the words that came out of my mouth were different. The words of the song were, "Here I am Lord, is it I Lord?" However, my mouth sang words in response to God's call saying, "Here I am Lord, it is I Lord..." I'll never forget the other-worldly feeling of trying to make my mouth sing one thing and listening to it repeatedly sing the response God was asking for.
How moving for me to read Moses response to God calling out to him. "Here I am..."

Then immediately -- God began giving instructions to Moses.
-- Do not come any closer Moses. (v.5)
-- Take off your sandals Moses (v.5) --- you are on Holy Ground.
-- Then after clarifying exactly who was speaking to him ---
God told Moses to GO... (v.10)

And the conversation that followed was much like this:
God - Go
Moses - But who am i that i should go?
God - I will be with you.
Moses - Who should i tell them sent me?
God - "I am that I am" has sent you, the God of our fathers.
Moses - But what if they do not believe me? What if they say "the Lord did not appear to you..."
God - Show them your staff, it will become a snake, then return to being a staff -- then show them your hand in your cloak, sick, and then healed. Then if they still do not believe, pour water from the Nile onto the ground and i will turn the water into blood.
Moses - But I do not speak well.
God - I will give you words you say.
Moses - Please send someone else...
God - ... then the Lord's anger began to burn against Moses, but still He said, what about your brother Aaron? He will go with you and speak.

Five times, Moses questioned the word "Go..." --- he had his excuses ready...
But God was relentless. He had chosen His servant, and had given His orders.

Moses was/is one of the "greats" in the Bible, yet in reality he was just a simple shepherd tending someone else's sheep. He was humble and unsure of himself. He knew he was ill-fitted for what was being asked of him. He knew he needed help...
Moses is my close brother these days.

I did not realize it until reading this passage again and again --- that God had stirred me with the same words Moses had used --- "Here I am Lord..."
I knew the day i was sitting in a Bible study class with my friend Carolyn, that all my world was changing even as i sat perfectly still. A burning bush was in front of me --- no one else in the room saw it --- but i did (i believe Carolyn knew it was before me as well). I saw and I timidly approached it. And the God of our Fathers spoke to my heart just as surely as He spoke to Moses' those many years ago. 

I cried --- crocodile tears.
I will confess, they were terrified tears.
Almost hard to breathe tears.
Hide my face tears.

But almost immediately --- God reminded me -- I was on Holy Ground. And on Holy Ground reverence is necessary.
So later that same day --- i began "removing my sandals". For about 545 days now i've been removing more than just my sandals.
I've been removing/laying down my house, my car, my furniture, my friends, my pets, my favorite restaurants, my creature comforts, my kitchen, my flowers, my normal, my family, my precious children, my front porch, my world...
And the conversations between God and me have been such an echo of Moses' words. Unintentional, but almost exact ---
"But Lord, who am i to go ..."
"But Lord, why would they listen to me..."
"But Lord, i do not speak well..."
"Oh Lord, could i please nominate another, someone much better suited for this calling..."

Then i've gone further that Moses did -- I've whined to the One who created and gave me everything good in my life and i've said --- "But Lord, will i really be able to keep breathing day in and day out so far away from "home"? 
And His response ---- 
"you are not home yet. You've never been home. You're just comfortable in the box i've allowed you to live in. But now i've called you out of what is comfortable and onto the path that will carry you closer to home. Home is ahead."
 "follow Me --- remove your sandals --- this is Holy Ground."

Was it easy for Moses? No -- Not for a day after his eye caught sight of his burning bush.
Did it seem impossible for Moses? Surely -- everyday --- but then there was always God with Him.
Was Moses perfect? Never --- he messed up big at the rock and it cost him much.
Did Moses need help? Always, from God, from his brother, from his wife -- even from his father-in-law Jethro.

Climbing Mt. Horeb was no small feat. Moses did it several times during his years of Holy Ground servanthood. It was a challenging, difficult climb.
Would it have been easier to have just "not seen" the burning bush and kept right on tending Jethro's flocks for the rest of his life.
But then ---  what would it have felt like, on the day he drew his last breath here, then breathed in the air of Heaven and heard God ask --- "son, why did you ignore the burning bush i placed before you? you were created to lead men and women out of bondage not tend flocks of goats in a field."

Easy = less
Comfortable = Easy
A burning bush > Comfortable
Obedience > A burning bush
Peace = Obedience
Surrender > Peace
Savior > Surrender
Home = Savior
Holy Ground is the path where the Savior walks with us, barefooted, together ---- it leads to HOME.

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

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