Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the [a]west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of [b]a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “[c]I must turn aside now and see this [d]marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush. – Exodus 3: 1-4
God did something to attract Moses. He could have simply called to him; He didn’t. He burned a bush first. “When the Lord saw that Moses turned aside to see, [then] God called to Him.” Sometimes God won’t speak to us till He knows He has our attention.
I heard a friend tell of her young boy who used to grab her face in his little hands and turn it to look into his and say, “Mommy I need you to listen with your eyes,” because if she looked at him, he knew she was listening and he had her undivided attention. (Versus the alternative of multi-tasking and listening while she worked on something else.) Maybe the burning bush was God’s way of telling Moses, “I need you to listen with your eyes.”
What does this mean for me (and for you) in the absence of a burning bush? Maybe hearing God speak starts with me reading the Bible—in many ways it is our burning bush. This ordinary book of text is supernatural and extraordinary and alive with the power of God. When I turn aside from all I’m doing to stop and read, I often find God calling out to me through the text, just as God called out to Moses through the bush.
And maybe I need to be quicker to pause and turn aside from daily life to notice things like beauty, like creation, like stillness and life around me… It may not be anything as extraordinary as a burning bush, but all the better. The point was in the turning to see and while I’d love to see something so fantastic as a burning bush, I’d also like for God to find no need to go to such drastic measures to get my attention, that I am eager and ready to meet with Him, to listen with my eyes. I want Him to find that He can get my attention with the simple things of life because my heart is looking for His, my eyes looking to see signs of Him, of his love, compassion, beauty and creativity, power and mercy… And that each and every time I see such a sign, I do as Moses did: I turn aside to see it. I pause to reflect on it, to marvel at it, and to listen to see if God might be speaking.
(On a comical note, this scene of the burning bush, of what God maybe had to do to get Moses’ attention, reminds me of that scene in the Three Amigos where Steve Martin, aka Lucky Day, is on the ledge trying to get his buddies to hear his signal. They’re supposed to be listening for him…but they’re so entrenched on their own conversation they completely lose themselves and miss all the signals he’s giving them. Burning bushes are cool, but I don’t want to go down in history as one of those guys… talking down below, so entrenched on what I’m doing in the moment I forget the larger purpose and forget to listen for the signal.)
In Miracles from Heaven, Christy Beam said that during Anna’s sickness she had been frustrated that God wasn’t answering her prayers, and that hadn’t seen any miracles until Anna was healed. She also said that after Anna’s healing, she saw looking back that there actually had been miracles during Anna’s sickness, during that time Christy thought God wasn’t showing up. She just hadn’t had the eyes to see them. I dare say someday we will see that the same is true in our own lives, that there are more burning bushes and miracles around us than we see. I dare say that probably more than we realize, God is there, eager to get our attention but waiting to speak until we have put down our busyness and turned aside to pause and listen with our eyes.
Lord let us see and hear.
Related article: Are you the Singing Bush?