Turning aside to see

Exodus 3:1-4

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in 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, "Moses! Moses!"

And Moses said, "Here I am."

I have often spoke of the contact points Moses has with the prisoners I see as a Chaplain. I remind them that he was put up for adoption by his parents. How as an adult, he murdered an Egyptian and did a runner for a considerable length of time before realizing that things would change dramatically despite his major earlier mistakes in life, and that God used him despite those weaknesses (maybe even because of them).

Here we have Moses on a farm, looking after someone else’s sheep – his father in-law’s. Life was comfortable for him never the less. Moses leads the sheep towards Mount Horeb, where he unexpectedly meets God. The bush is burning, and Moses saw something brightly shining to one side…. and turned towards it and saw something.

God’s call can often seem to only mean a start of ‘ministry’ to a lot of people, that’s what happens to Christians in their testimonies isn’t it? As a result, we often find ourselves more confused and desperate to understand this new calling to such an extent that we often struggle by being a square peg trying to fit into that round hole….. we can often feel guilty for when that initial enthusiasm fades and we return to the world of comfort and the familiar.

Jesus didn’t say, ‘My call is heavy and difficult’; he said, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (Matthew 11:30). Moses still broke out of that comfortable routine, and he discovered that his natural curiosity did not lead him away from God, but nearer to Him. This encounter was a transforming one. That act of following what he thought was interesting was the initial hook that God eventually used and turned Moses from a murderer on the run and a shepherd to a political reformer and religious leader.

We mustn’t let the fear of losing our faith limit our imagination and sense of adventure. It is when we embark on such exciting things, that we hear God’s voice often being lived in others.

Eric Liddell was a Scot, a missionary, an international rugby player and an athlete. He was gifted and because of this known as the ‘Flying Scotsman’. He and his brothers and sister were born in China and were committed to returning there as missionaries, but he was also chosen to represent the British Olympic team for the 1924 Olympic Games. That section of his life is immortalised in the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ made in 1981. He faced challenges during this time, he faced a conflict with his faith.

Eric Liddell won a gold medal, and in 1925 he returned to China as a missionary and stayed there until his death. His mission work involved teaching English Language and the Bible. Yet his most enduring sermon to the world that reflected his commitment to his faith and God given gifts was not from the pulpit. It was by doing what he did best – running.

So, put aside what others say you should do. Instead, do what Moses did – follow whatever is intriguing, interesting and stimulating; and when you do, keep an ear open because at some point there will be a voice quietly speaking your name and respond.

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