Wednesday, January 4, 2017
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. Exodus 3:1-5(NLT)
Moses was drawn to the fire of God like a moth to a bulb on a Savannah night. Not so for my friend Paul, who told me a story about his youthful battle against the darkness. As a young man Paul didn’t own a car, so after night-fall he was walking home along Little Beane Store Road. It was so dark the only way he could be positive he was still following the road was to feel the rough places at the roadside under his bare feet. At one point he fell because he’d stepped on something that felt slick and rope-like. Fearing the worst he jumped up and stomped the unknown dark, slithering evil several times, and then ran home like the wind.
In the morning Paul returned to the battlefield to see exactly what he’d killed. When he got to the spot of the nighttime struggle he discovered his vanquished foe in the grass beside the road – one very mangled corn stalk!
Battling the unknown is a metaphor for coming to terms with the fear we have because of the darkness around and within us. Paul’s youthful fear imagined a reptile laying in wait for him on that summer night. Living in rural North Carolina with corn, greens, and food growing everywhere, the reality of snakes on the hunt for a meal became larger because of the eerie feeling you get walking alone in the dark.
Moses had his own battle with the darkness, coming to terms with the fact that he really wasn’t an Egyptian prince; that was just what people thought. Moses had to contend with his real DNA – he was a Hebrew, and the God of the slaves was his God. Talk about stepping on a snake in the dark.
But then the God of Abraham’s flock called to Moses from a bush that was on fire, but wouldn’t burn down. Moses was drawn to the fire, curious and unafraid. But that was before God spoke – this is holy ground, take off your shoes! It is my firm belief that one sentence is where Moses developed his stutter!
To his credit, Moses didn’t run from God like my friend Paul ran from the snake. (Had it been me that night, I’d still be running!) But Moses’ encounter was with the light of a burning bush; that’s different than running from a snake in the night. The real fight for Moses that day was not the light, but the darkness within. Moses had to deal with the fear that this God who does everything in the light might consume him because of the darkness inside Moses. After all, when light comes, darkness has to go!
That’s the real fear most people have when it comes to drawing near God. After all, we know what fire does…it burns and provides light. We humans are most-burnable and we have this darkness within that is comfortably entrenched. We fear light, and we sense that we ought to, because we understand the difference between God and us:
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 1 John 1:5(NLT)
This is why we venerate Moses; despite his own darkness he went towards the light. And that is how to battle the dark!
When, in your times of meditation on God’s Word, you stumble across something quite dark within yourself, don’t just do battle and run home; run to the light!