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Where is Your Burning Bush?

Burning Bush

by Audrey West

I have never seen a burning bush.

Oh, sure, there are clippings from the butterfly bush that turn to ash at the bottom of a backyard burn pile, and a lovely shrub from our local nursery with leaves that change color in the fall to match the flames in the neighbor’s chimney. But I have never encountered a bush like the one Moses saw: the extraordinary, miraculous sort of burning bush where God speaks up and tells Moses exactly what to do. “Take off your shoes, Moses. You’re on holy ground.”

Not that I want anything like Moses’ life, if that is what it takes to experience such a magnificent (and terrifying) encounter with God. I must admit, though, that it would be awesome to have a life story that includes being rescued from a basket in the bulrushes and growing up under the protection of the local Pharaoh. With a beginning like that, it might be easier to recognize the hand of God in one’s life, even if only in retrospect.

My own childhood was a lot less inspired. The closest I have come to Moses’ escapades on the water is the time my 1984 hatchback and I got washed away by a flooded creek in Kansas City and I had to swim for safety as the car spun through the current toward the parking lot of a local Jiffy Lube.

A young woman in an approaching sedan dragged me out of the water before my arms went limp from exhaustion and panic; I have always thought of her as an angel from God. The car was totaled, having been swallowed by the creek, but I was safe. Was it simply good fortune that I had spent a dozen summers before that as

a competitive swimmer or was it the providence of God? Whatever the case, a Missouri creek swollen by rain hardly compares to the Nile River, although I certainly give thanks to God for the rescue.

Another strike against me with regard to a burning bush is that my people have not been enslaved for generations away from home by a foreign power. My father and his family were migrant workers who followed the crops around the Western United States, and I once spent a couple of months picking asparagus on a farm in Washington, but compared to most of the world I have lived a comfortable life.

Besides, I am not too eager to wander the wilderness for 40 years with a bunch of folks who whine incessantly about the gifts God has given them. Manna, anyone?

Audrey West is the author of Gather’s 2012–13 Bible study, “Gathered by God.”

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