Permit me to engage my imagination as I consider the biblical account of Moses encountering God in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-15).
I imagine it was an ordinary day spent tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the desert. After work, he was going into town to meet some friends before heading home. In the midst of his regular routine was where God met him, called him by name and recounted the suffering of God’s beloved people, which was of grievous concern.
God wanted to do something about it, and Moses was being drawn out of hiding to play an important role in fulfilling God’s plan of salvation.
If you are not familiar with this biblical story, I encourage you to take some time to read it. It is a compelling account of God’s love, care and solidarity with oppressed people and those crushed under unbearable suffering.
God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. Now, seeing a burning bush in the desert was not at all unusual. The weird part was that it burned but was not consumed by the fire. Every time I read this text, I can’t help but wonder how long God had been trying to get Moses’ attention.
As a second-career clergy person who had a delayed response to God’s call on my life, I imagine Moses walking by that burning bush for months, maybe even years, before finally “turning aside and look” (v. 3).
I had a lot of excuses. No doubt Moses had a lot of excuses, too. He probably thought he was the last person God could be trying to reach, especially when we consider his background: Moses murdered an Egyptian while defending an Israelite slave.
With no support or protection from pharaoh’s wrath, he fled to Midian. There, he vanished to the margins of salvation’s story for 40 years (Acts 7:30). The other part of his story is that after he was drawn out from the river as a baby, he was raised with pharaoh’s daughter, as a prince in Egypt, only to now find himself tending sheep for his father-in-law.
It’s not exactly a success story.
But something happened that caused him to give all that up to defend and later identify with an oppressed people. What makes a person do something like that?
What makes a person put his or her career on the line — relinquish all his or her money and earning capacity, his or her security, his or her status, to help underprivileged people?
God interrupted Moses’ pursuit of worldly success with an offer he could not refuse. The unveiling of eternal purposes can make a person live by a different set of values and pursue a different set of goals than societal norms. Life can become routine and predictable.
But just about the time you think nothing will ever change, God often interrupts and gives you a new sense of purpose. But will you “turn aside and look?”
Divine interruptions often carry a message and a calling with them. For Moses, it was a call to deliver Israel out of oppression. For the disciples, it was to be fishers of people. For Paul, it was to be an apostle to the gentiles.
All of them were busy, in the midst of routine and everyday life. Yet that is often when divine interruptions happen, quite unexpectedly, and offer us an opportunity to do something significant for God and the people whom God still loves.
How about you? Are you open to a divine interruption? How will you respond?