My Summer-time project - just finished! No title yet, just the verse that inspired it - 'There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.' (Psalm 46:4)
'Let's cover mummy's feet with sand!' So we did and then mine got covered too! My little three year old grand daughter ended up with sand almost to her knees, much to her delight! She was so delighted we had to cover her legs to her knees a few times! Here we were in not-so-sunny (well, actually we were indoors!) in Costa del Milton Keynes! In the middle of a shopping trip enjoying sand, brightly coloured stripy deck chairs and watching amusements for the 'Big' children. An indoor beach! What unexpected fun! This was one of those special step aside days when females from three generations could just enjoy each others' company.
There are special 'step aside' moments we can have too. Moses had one of those moments that changed the whole direction of his life..
'Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was burning away but it didn't burn up. Moses said, 'What's going on? I can't believe this. Amazing! Why doesn't the bush burn up?'
God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush. 'Moses! Moses!'
He said, 'Yes, I'm right here!'
God said, 'Don't come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You're standing on holy ground.' Then He said, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.'
Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.' (Exodus 3:1-6 The Message)
This was just another day for Moses - alone tending his father-in-law's flock in the arid landscape that was now his home. He had been raised by Pharaoh's daughter in Pharaoh's palace and had lived there until he was forty when he had to run for his life. He was now eighty years old and he'd been doing this job for forty long years. But now something extraordinary broke into his routine - a bush that was burning except this bush didn't burn to a cinder. Probably in that hot dry climate Moses was used to seeing the occasional bush suddenly erupt into flames, but it would turn to ashes in minutes. This bush just kept on burning and unusually, it wasn't burning up. It caught his attention - wouldn't it have caught yours? It certainly would have caught mine! Moses stopped in his tracks. With curiosity getting the better of him, he stepped aside to see what was happening.
It was at that moment that God spoke. He introduced Himself. He knew He had Moses' full attention. God had got a new job for Moses. (Note that - Moses was eighty - you're never too old to start something new!) God said, 'The Israelite cry for help has come to me and I've seen for myself how cruelly they're being treated by the Egyptians. It's time for you to go back. I'm sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.' (Exodus 3:9 The Message)
This was the mission God had for Moses. However, Moses was very reluctant to go. His mind must have been in a confused whirl at this sudden intervention into his quiet life. Despite the Lord's patient encouragement, Moses suddenly cried out, 'Oh Master, please, send somebody else!'
That could have been the end of the story, but the Lord never gave up on Moses. Despite all the hardships that Moses faced during the next forty years leading the Israelites away from Egypt to Canaan, the Promised land, the Lord was always with them.
'By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could travel by day or by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.' (Exodus 13:21-22 NIV)
God provided for their every need. Although they were in the desert, they never went hungry or thirsty. God guided them and prepared their way forward.
F.F. to Jesus, about 1400 years later. The day before He was killed He said this to His disciples:
'I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever - the Spirit of Truth.' (John 14:16-17 NIV)
After the Resurrection, Jesus said this:
'..surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.' (Matthew 28:20 NIV)
So listen out for the Lord! He is still with us. You may not come across a burning bush that talks, but you may have had a heartfelt nudge or an email from a friend who hasn't written for a long time, or maybe you've had a chance conversation that has made you stop in your normal routine tracks. Whatever. Pray. Check it out with honest friends. Pray again. You may repeat the process! When the Lord grabs your attention and you step aside for a moment, remember you don't just step aside, you step aside into. God has planned the way forward already and He will be with you every step of the way.