It’s Exodus chapter three, Moses is working his father-in-law’s flock, herding sheep in the wilderness. Actually, he’s working these sheep in the middle of the desert: ‘…and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.’
You know the story – Moses, turns to see a bush on fire, not a phenomena since he would have seen this before but, closer inspection reveals the bush was not consumed. The story within a story begins to unravel.
Sometimes there’s more than meets the eye – never mistake the ordinary for what God might make extraordinary. God will often be in places and circumstances that we don’t expect Him to be. Think about the Pharisee’s chief complaint against Jesus … “He sits with the tax collectors, vile sinners them all … Does He not know who it is that anoints His feet with those filthy tears?’
God loves to be in places our polished religion forbids Him to go! Don’t ever stop being ‘surprised by God’. Back to the story.
Moses encounters God, he is found standing on holy ground, bare foot and busted in the middle of the desert. God does great things in desert places!
Horeb is also known as mount Sinai — it’s literally translated to ‘a desert place full of thorns and thistles.’ This kind of pokes a gaping hole in our tip-toe-through-the-tulips-with-rose-coloured-glasses Christianity doesn’t it!
We don’t journey through pain because we have a lack of faith or an abundance of unbelief. Trials and tests are a good part of our spiritual diet that brings strength and growth. James 1:2 asks us to embrace these desert places with ‘pure’ joy since it’s good for our faith!
I know, there are times where it would just be easier for God to leave our faith alone, but it’s just how faith works. It’s cliché I know, but there’s truth here, you can’t have a testimony with out there being a test.
God does His best in me when I’m at my worst, lost and searching in the middle of the desert. The message of Jesus in the beatitudes starts with ‘blessed are those who recognise their need for God.’
Do you feel lost, dry, or thirsty? Are you feeling isolated, wandering in the wilderness, walking the sands of a desert place?
If you are, search for God and know that He does great things in desert places!