July 1. I came home from a sweet time away in sweltering rural Illinois to a long list of things that needed to be done: emails to send, books to read, appointments to make, curriculum to write.
Overwhelmed, I did the one thing that did not need to be done: organize my cleaning supplies, since that was clearly urgent. While I was working, the Lord was working on me. While I was arranging Mrs. Meyers sprays, He was rearranging things in my own heart.
When I think of the staggering scope of shaping souls, imaging God, speaking His Words, and modeling life-with-Him before my children who see me when I am not behind a podium or on the clock, I stutter and stagger, hiding my face like Moses did in Exodus 3.
Tending his flock, perhaps on an average Tuesday, Moses turned aside in the midst of the terribly ordinary to see something terrifying extraordinary. A burning bush that was not consumed. Perhaps he initially thought he was losing it from the isolation and long hours of shepherding. No, that really was a bush burning yet not.
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed…When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am” (Exodus 3: 2-4).
God sought him out, got him alone and got his attention. Then, he proceeded to call him by name twice. Naming someone twice is a sign of intimacy and friendship in Jewish literature, thus God transcendent became God intimate.
Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God (Exodus 3:5-6).
The God who longed to reveal Himself, the uncreated Creator who had established a relationship with Moses’ forefathers was not done yet. He was inviting Moses into his story, revealing Himself yet again that He might carry out the plans He had formed long ago.
Talk about staggering scope. God invited Moses, who had not really asked for a burning bush or to witness Someone so holy and other that he had to remove his shoes and hide his face, to an unthinkable task.
To follow through on this call, Moses would have to deal with his own murderous guilt and shame by going back to the land from whence he fled. He would have to confront the strongest, most scary leader in the known world. He would bring out a bustling, breeding people from slavery. Talk about a to-do list.
But all that God was inviting Moses to do was essentially wrapped up in God’s being.
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:13-14).
After a little more cajoling, Moses began to move in faith towards the impossible to-do list set before him because of the God who revealed Himself to him.
While God has not called me or you to set free captives on a massive scale, He does have a call on our lives. He has revealed Himself to us in an event even more jaw-dropping than a burning bush. In the death and resurrection of Christ, we have the clearest picture of God’s character. God transcendent became God imminent in the incarnation. He set us free from captivity to sin and death. He invites us into the extraordinary redemption story right where we are in our ordinary lives.
And still, our doing must flow from His being. Our executing the tasks set before us is deeply rooted in His existence.
Thus, we must begin a new month of tasks and challenges with fresh reminders of His mercies.