Turning aside to look.

As we look closely at the account of Moses, we see that there is something about that bush that wasn’t quite as amazing as we imagine it to be. There is something about it that invited questions from Moses rather than instant overwhelming obedience.

I mean, we can criticize Moses for a lack of faith. And I’ve heard that. Often.

  • God says take off your shoes.
  • Moses hides his face.
  • God says, “I am going to deliver Israel from Egypt and I’m sending you to lead them.
  • Moses says, “Who am I that you should use me?”
  • God says, “I am with you.”
  • Moses says, “Who should I tell them that you are?”
  • God says “I am” and then describes in detail what will happen in the future.
  • Moses says, “But they won’t listen.”
  • God gives him two signs
  • Moses says, “But I can’t speak very well”
  • God says, “I will give you the words.”
  • Moses says “Is there anyone else”

And then God gets frustrated with him.

burning bushBut the fact that there is a conversation here, and at other points in their interactions, suggests that we should look at God’s presence more than Moses’s faith. God is not as overwhelming in his presence before Moses as we imagine. God is more approachable, more engaging, more engagable that we imagine.  Or at least to Moses.

Does that mean that God isn’t awe-inspiring?


But it means that somehow, God’s presence doesn’t squash conversation, doesn’t overwhelm the moment.

Which is really odd. Because i think we want God to be huge in these moments. They’ve been described as massive. And God is capable of that. But I don’t think he wants to cut off conversation. To destroy it. And us.

At least not when look at God’s patience with Moses.

This restrained presence is clear at the very beginning of the story. Moses notices the bush off to the side and goes to find it. He turns aside. It is as if God is waiting for us to notice what he’s doing and approach to find out. And then begins the conversation.

So this week, what if we looked around to see where God may be working and then turned aside to find out what’s happening. And then joined in a conversation.


From a reflection on Exodus 3, first published in 2017.