This week, as I’ve continued work on the book I’m writing about trees in the Bible, I’ve turned to the book of Exodus to look at Moses. When you think of him, what pops in your mind first? The ten commandments? Moses proclaiming to Pharaoh, “Let my people go”? Or maybe it’s a Moses that looks remarkably like Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea? Those are all images of a strong, confident Moses, but he wasn’t always that way.
One day, he was leading his flocks near Mount Horeb (known as the Mountain of God), when he saw something peculiar:
The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush;
and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not
consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight,
why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look,
God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he
said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals
from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said
also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the
God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
– Exodus 3:2-6
Moses’ curiosity stopped him in his tracks, and his encounter with God that day would change him forever. Notice that God didn’t call out to him until Moses had turned aside from his flock. God was waiting until Moses was quiet and fully paying attention.
You see, God had a plan for Moses that He knew would be difficult for him. He wanted Moses to leave his life of hiding and return to Egypt to speak for the Israelites and lead them out of Egypt. But Moses had a lot of reservations.
During their conversation, Moses whined and asked God to choose another messenger to free the Israelites. Take a look at Exodus 3 and 4 to read about this encounter, and you’ll see Moses offer excuse after excuse about not being able to fulfill God’s call. Here’s my take on Moses’ side of their conversation:
- I’m nobody. Shouldn’t You send someone more capable and important? (Exodus 3:11)
- Who are You? Are You really *that* God? (3:13)
- Um, I don’t really think the Israelites are going to believe me. (4:1)
- Besides, You know I’m terrible at public speaking. (4:10)
- Okay, God, it’s a good message to send to Egypt, and so I ask You to send it (just maybe could You pretty please pick someone other than me?). (4:13)
Up until that last comment from Moses, God had been patient, but the last comment finally pushed God over the edge: “Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses” (4:14).
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to face an angry God. And yet, I can definitely relate to Moses’ reluctance to obey God. Did any of his comments sound familiar to you because you’ve said them yourself?
I’ve been putting off writing this book, starting and stopping and getting sidetracked with life and other writing projects for the last seven years. I’m ashamed and embarrassed that it has taken me so long to be obedient to God’s call for me to write a book. Even now, I struggle to keep the book on the front burner as other project ideas inspire me. But this is the season for me to write this book, and so I keep putting other projects out of my mind to stay focused on accomplishing this one task.
Moses’ encounter at the burning bush provides us with two key lessons about our relationship with God, two disciplines we must learn: being quiet and still before God, and obeying His call.
My problem is that I’m crummy at both of those disciplines. I mean really, really crummy. However, because I don’t ever want to read, “Then the anger of the Lord burned against Hope,” I’m working on developing both. Each morning, I take time to be quiet and still before God. Not easy, but I’m trying. I’m also refusing to take on other projects while I finish writing the book.
It’s a daily struggle, though. So – my friends and readers – do you have insights or successes or stories of your own struggles in these two areas that could help all of us learn these disciplines? If so, please share them by writing a comment below.
You don’t even have to sign in or include your name – simply choose to share your story as “anonymous,” if that’s more comfortable for you. (After you click on the word “Comments” below this post, you’ll find a screen with a box where you can type your comment and then a drop-down menu to choose “Comment as.” Anonymous is the last choice in the drop-down menu). I’d love to hear how you’re meeting the challenges of quiet and obedience.