ADVENTuring # 11
Day 9 – December 9
Ornament – Burning Bush or Sandals
There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within the 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 does the bush not burn up. When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:2-4
Moses was peacefully tending the sheep of his father-in-law when something strange caught his eye. Compelled by the curious, yet familiar, he drew near. At first, all he could see was the raging fire. But as he moved closer, he saw that within the fire was a bush. Though fully engulfed, the bush was not destroyed.
Hanging in the balance of the risk of moving forward or the reward of backward steps to safety, Moses heard his name from the center of the fiery bush, not once, but two times. Whenever God says a name twice, an invitation to covenant will follow.
Knees weak and tongue tied, Moses responded, “Hineni (Here I am)”. Though a statement of his full presence and his willingness to keep going, on the fringes of his story, I hear a unique inflection. “Here, I AM.” A shaky offering from a shaken heart. “Here, have everything. I know Who You are, and this time, I’m going to run to You, instead of away.”
And I AM replied, “Take off your sandals.” In Hebrew, sandals represent inheritance. God was taking Moses up on his offer. “Leave behind all you have garnished and gathered for yourself while you hid your eyes from the mirror of My face. It is time to stop scrutinizing yourself through a foggy glass and to begin to see through the blaze in My heart. Empty yourself of all you have collected and become Me reflected.”
Intrepidly, Moses said yes. When Pappa told him what his yes was for, Moses could only ask a simple question. “Who am I to do this?” But in the presence of the answer, his question fell away. God said, “Don’t tell them who you are, tell them that I AM.”
‘Tell my people that I AM coming to them just as I came to this bush. As you speak, remember the imagery of the burning bush and the mercy it revealed. Though judgment comes to their masters, mercy will be shown to My people.”
Moses, filled with the wonder of how God would perform all He said, emboldened by the delight of being part of such a magnanimous plan and ignited by the awe of it all, gulped and said, “Here I go,” moving forward to the place he never wanted to go back to, while returning to the God he never wanted to leave.
What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Something I so love about the story of Moses is that he had the will to wonder! His name means “to draw out water” yet he did not try to squelch the fire of God’s presence or purpose. The ground he was upon became holy because he knew not what Pappa was asking, but was drawn to yes anyway.
As his bare feet began to move in the direction of Pappa’s plans, he would need to appreciate the miraculous. To pause each time he recognized it, so those with him wouldn’t blow past it, hair on fire, to get where they were going. Moses would need to never lose his wonder, and have no pail with which to bail himself out of what Pappa was doing. The awed venture ahead would not bring checks to Moses’ bucket list. No, he would need to take note of miracles and majesty.
He made his ways known to Moses, his mighty acts unto the children of Israel. Psalm 103:7
The children of Israel, were yet to embrace Him who called them out, so the miracles and mystery of the wilderness would be their wooing. But Moses not only believed Pappa, he loved Him and desired to know more of Him. The word for “know” in this scripture is ‘yodi’a’ and means “to cause to become intimate with His ways.”
It is one thing to be aware of what God is doing. Another to become part of it. Pappa had placed himself in the picture of Moses’ life and he wanted no other view. His desire to “know” is what would compel him to split a sea, follow a pillar cloud, rest aside to a pillar of flame, forage for manna and spill water from rocks. He who had sheltered sheep would now be fetching a people, keeping them from wandering with the staff of his wonder.
When Moses was paused with Pappa at the burning bush, He inquired about His name. Pappa knew that Moses would not simply need to say His name to the Israelites, but reveal it. The Israelites would not always understand what Pappa was doing, yet need to embrace His ways. There would be a daily choice to let God be “I Am who I Am. I will be Who I will be.”
This is the name of the timeless One–Who can be past, present and future. He comes behind to heal us, He dwells with us, now, to hold us, He goes ahead, preparing a future that brings hope for us.
This name–my goodness–how wonderful is this name! It is the one I cling to when I don’t understand, when things are yet to unfold. But I say yes, right there, where His fire burns bright for me, when He’s calling my name, times two, so I know covenant is coming. I call this name when I want to make the place holy and hallowed–because I have nothing but a yes as offering on my altared heart. My altered heart. And I want more than anything, for Him to be who He will be!