Simplifying helps us pay attention.
Moses had fled from Egypt after trying to right a wrong on his own. Years passed and he was busy building a life and family for himself in Midian.
While doing his job – leading the flock of sheep to pasture – God tried to get his attention.
Oh, yes you know the story, right? There was this burning bush and God called out from the bush and gave Moses his marching orders.
Yes, but not quite. Take a closer look at Exodus 3:1-4 (NKJV)
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So, he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
4 So 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.”
God did not call to Moses to get his attention. Let’s be honest, if God audibly called out to me, “Mary, Mary!” I’d take notice!
No, God placed something unusual in Moses’ ordinary, workday path and waited for Moses to notice.
What if Moses hadn’t noticed or turned aside? What if he’d been so consumed with his anxious thoughts over his endless To-Do list?
- Get the sheep over the mountain
- Scan for predators
- Remind Zipporah to sharpen the shears
- Clean the wool
- Talk to Jethro about a new shepherding stick
- Contact wool buyers – need to negotiate a new price
Ok, you get the picture…
I submit that if Moses hadn’t noticed and turned aside the Lord would not have called out. I suspect He would have presented Moses with another opportunity. But that would have delayed Moses’ encounter with the Living God and delayed his obedient response to go, and also delayed the freeing of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.
God wants us to notice…
…notice that He’s waiting for an opportunity to lead us to obedience.
Jan Johnson says, “God invites us into obedience.”
He is not pounding down your door, tearing up your To-Do list and waving His arms in front of you to get your attention.
He’s burning bushes, waiting for you to notice.
Because He’s interested in freedom. He’s eager to break bondages, ease burdens, and lead us to freedom. But not for our individual sakes alone!
The Israelites were weighed down, the work was piled on them, “crushing them under the cruel workload” of the Egyptian taskmasters. (Exodus 1:14 The Message)
Who/what are your taskmasters?
- Your self-induced striving?
- The expectations of others?
- That goal you’re convinced will be the pinnacle of your joy and freedom?
- The bills and debt that demand to be paid?
Here’s the reality: when we’re weighed down by a workload or cluttered life we don’t look, we don’t turn aside, we don’t notice.
I shudder to think of the missed opportunities when I was burdened with too much to do. Too busy to notice, too tunnel visioned to look to the right or the left to see God waiting for me to stop, turn aside, and notice. Too consumed with the “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19) to hear the cries of the oppressed around me. Too hurried to pay attention long enough to notice.
When the Lord saw that Moses turned aside to look, He called him by name, introduced himself, and let Moses in on His great plan.
It’s all so charming when you paraphrase it: “Hey, look – oh good – Moses noticed! He’s turning this way…Hey, Moses, Moses! I’m so glad you noticed Me. I’m God and this is holy ground. And I’ve got this plan to rescue all my people, and guess what? I’m sending you to help!”
God’s people are still stuck in bondage. Bondage to pain, bondage to the cares of this world, bondage to hurt and abuse. Will you free up your mind to notice and step aside?
Will you free up your schedule, your pursuit of the world’s goods, the position at work, the accolades of man, to have the mental space to notice, step aside, and hear God calling you to rescue someone in bondage?
Because you see, when we’re overburdened and hurried we hurt ourselves, it’s true, but what’s worse is we hurt those around us when we fail to stop and notice.
The antidote is simplicity.
When we intentionally simplify our lives so we have mental and emotional space we can notice others, we can stop to look, listen, inquire, help.
We can stop to see God calling us away from the ordinary to a plan of His extraordinary making. A plan much bigger than our plans, much more fulfilling than our personal achievements could ever be.
Are you ready to pay attention? Don’t miss another burning bush! ~ Mary
Looking for quietness and confidence? Read here for a little encouragement to help you get there.