Have you ever been at a crossroads in life and wished God would just tell you what he wanted you to do? And if you are familiar with the Bible at all you know that He could:
- He could send an angel to tell you what job to take.
- He could come to you in a dream and tell you who to marry.
- If he wanted to, he could just tell you in a burning bush.
That would be cool, don’t you think? Imagine you’re gardening outside a few years back and all of a sudden your rose bush catches on fire and tells you, “Cash in your Blockbuster Video stock and invest in Amazon.” God could have done that if he wanted to.
If we are honest with ourselves, there are times when we all want God to do that for us; to just speak clearly. We go to God and say, “God if you would just show up and show me where to go, I would do it without complaining. If I could just know for sure, I would do it. I promise.” Have you ever thought that way? If you have, I’m not sure you really know what you are asking for.
It sounds great and like a no-brainer, but I’m not sure you know what you’re asking for if you’re hoping for a burning bush and I’m not sure that even if He came or sent an angel that you would do it. Why do I say that? Because why would you be any different than any of the people in the Bible who God told exactly what to do. Let me show you what I’m talking about. You have all heard of Moses, right? Well, here’s what God had to say to Moses:
The Original Burning Bush
1 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. 2 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. 3 “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” —Exodus 3:1-3
To which my response is, “Duh.” If you and I saw a bush engulfed in flames and not burning, we would check it out especially since it’s fire season here in California. Then God gives him this instruction:
Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.—Exodus 3:10
At this point Moses has seen a miracle and heard the voice of God, so he goes immediately to Egypt just like God tells him to, right? Wrong.
But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”—Exodus 3:11
So God gives him more instruction and Moses leaves, right? Wrong again. Look at Chapter 4:
But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?” —Exodus 4:1
After this complaint God does two more miracles: He gives Moses leprosy then heals it and then he turns his walking stick into a snake then back into a walking stick. Surely now Moses is ready, correct? Wrong again.
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled. –-Exodus 4:10
After all of this Moses pleads with God, “Please…anyone but me. Send someone else.” He finally gets God to agree that he can bring his brother with him. The conversation God has with Moses reminds me of the conversations I have with my kids.
Kid: “Dad, I don’t want to go to Egypt.”
Me: “Moses, get to Egypt or you’re not getting dessert for a month.”
The burning bush is the most famous sign in all of the Bible, but still that wasn’t enough for Moses. He came up with excuse after excuse. It’s so easy for us to say, “If God would only speak to me directly, I would do it” but I’m not so sure that’s true. Seems to me like we might all be like Moses. Have you had a moment where you felt like God was telling you to do something? He probably hasn’t asked you to save Egypt, but he may have tugged at your heart to feed a homeless man. Maybe you felt like he was nudging you to reach out to a neighbor. Maybe you felt like God was pushing you to invite someone from work over to your home. Maybe you felt like God wanted you to serve in Sunday School or go on a mission trip but instead of going you made excuses:
- It’s too expensive
- I don’t feel called
- I’ll do it next time
- He probably wouldn’t want to come over anyway
- That homeless guy is probably just an addict
Why didn’t Moses do what God told him to do? For the same reason we don’t do what God calls us to do. It was going to be hard; in fact, it was going to downright suck. Moses had what psychologists call “Glossophobia” or the fear of public speaking and according to the selfhelpcollective.com, the fear of public speaking is the second most common fear in the world (the first is the fear of flying). Do you know where the fear of death falls in the list of phobias? It’s sixth! That means Moses would rather die than speak in front of Pharoah. And this isn’t the only time that God specifically called someone to do something out of their comfort zone in the Bible.
Still want that burning bush now? Are you really sure you want God to tell you exactly where to go and what to do? Are you sure that if He called you that you would just get right up and do what He asked? Maybe a more important question is, do you really want to be involved in a God who might ask you to do something so difficult?
Life is Not Facebook
The fact is life is filled with difficult things.
Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions—Ezekiel 2:6
Life is full of briers and thorns and scorpions. You can’t avoid the suck in life but you can grow through it and with God’s help, something good can come from all the pain.
We live in a world were people work hard to give off the illusion of perfection. That’s all we see on Facebook and Instagram, right? We see a snapshot of the best part of all of our friends lives. It can be depressing. We end up comparing our behind the scenes to their highlight reel. Our life is hard. We have difficulties. We struggle. We don’t parent perfectly. We have bad days at work. We fight with our spouse.
Let me give you my least favorite promise in the Bible:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.—John 16:33
Here is a promise I know everyone reading this will find true. In this world, you will have trouble. You don’t have to show everyone that you have trouble. You can continue to post pictures of your Disney Cruise and you’re new Mercedes. But you will have trouble. Health trouble. Relationship trouble. Parenting trouble. Work trouble.
The goal of life is not to avoid trouble. You can’t anyway. You can try, but it will find you. The goal in life is to spend it so that all the trouble you encounter will make a difference. That the trouble will grow you. That the trouble will be something worth going through trouble for:
- Kids who grow up to make good decisions.
- Marriages that endure through the good times and the bad.
- A career that changes lives.
Trust me, the battles you face are worth fighting for.
I’ve kind of been all over the place today so let me close with a few challenges.
- Make sure that you are pouring your life into something that matters. Colossians 3:16 put it like this: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
- When God calls you to do something, do it. Don’t wait. Don’t complain like Moses. Don’t run the other way like Jonah, just do it. Feed that homeless person, go on that mission trip, love that co-worker, get involved in that non-profit. Just do it. I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m promising you it won’t. I think I’ve made that clear. But it will pay off. Each of the people we talked about today either have a book of the Bible written about them or they wrote parts of the Bible. They left a legacy. This is how you will leave a legacy.
- Don’t be surprised when life is difficult. Don’t try to live up to everyone’s Facebook page. Don’t try to look like an Instagram post. The people I enjoy being with the most are not the ones that only tell me the good. The people I enjoy are real about their hardships.