On Sunday morning
, Jurie walked us through the "burning bush" passage in Exodus, where Moses is called to free God's people from the Egyptians. During the sermon, one phrase jumped out at me; I don't know that I've ever noticed it before: “This is strange!” he said to himself. “I’ll go over and see why the bush isn’t burning up” (Exodus 3:3, CEV).
When I read the Bible, I often catch myself thinking, "Well of course these people believe - they see miracle after miracle all the time!" or, "Why do these people have trouble believing that God will take care of them. Haven't they seen miracle after miracle?"
When Moses said, "This is strange," it suddenly made me realize something. The Bible crosses thousands of years... thousands. The Bible feels long, but when you consider how much time it covers, it's actually quite short. So what's in between all of the miraculous works of God and the historical events depicted in the Bible? Just to use one example, there were 400 years of waiting and watching, between the temporal end of the Old Testament and beginning of the New Testament.
Jurie spoke about times of isolation as times of incubation, when God uses social distance to stir up something in the hearts of His people, so that they are prepared for what lies ahead. Times of isolation are usually "in-between times." There are so many in-between times in our lives - between falling ill and getting well, between losing one job and finding another, between breaking up and finding new love, between a child's conception and his/her birth. These can be times of pain, uncertainty, loneliness, or anticipation, but they're almost always times of great change.
Right now, our entire world is caught in between the first cases of a brand new disease and the development of a cure, vaccine, or natural resistance. We're caught between the beginning of a time of social distancing and the time when we're allowed to meet again in person... between the beginning of the economic effects and workplace adaptations, and a time when these changes have become a memory.
In the passage in Exodus 3, Moses was in an "in-between time." He was isolated from his people, in the wilderness, having lost his sense of cultural identity with both the Egyptian family he was reared with and the Hebrew family who helped rear him. He didn't expect God to show up; he certainly didn't expect God to show up the way he did. But when the bush was burning and he said "this is strange," notice how he followed up that statement - “I’ll go over and see why the bush isn’t burning up.” He found the strangeness attractive... interesting. With something so strange, why didn't Moses run away in fear? How would you respond?
There must have been something about Moses, or something about the burning bush, that drew Moses forward rather than sending him into retreat. Miracles are strange, but they can also be attractive. In the same way, God's people are strange, but because of our strange reactions to things, people can be drawn to us.
One of the things I've noticed on social media these past few weeks is that the men and women of God are responding quite differently from others. We are posting "faith vs. fear" verses or activities; we are posting offers or opportunities to serve the medical community, homeless, or hungry; we are praying in public and inviting people to join us online at church. While the world is wallowing in the news of death tolls, shortages, shopping nightmares, and general panic, I've noticed the Christian community being aware of the situation yet exceedingly calm. This really is a strange response, and it's an attractive one. People are longing for the peace we have; it's nothing short of miraculous. We are the burning bush.
Do you feel like the burning bush, or do you feel like you're seeking the peace that surpasses all understanding? Let us know how we can pray for you and help you find peace in this time.